#SXSWi 2014 Recap: Reddit: You’re Doing it Wrong

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#SXSWi 2014 Recap: Reddit: You’re Doing it Wrong

Reddit is an online community that is completely user-driven. Posts and images are separated into subreddits based on various topics. Rohit Thawani, the Director of Digital Strategy at TBWA\Chiat\Day and Garrett Tillman, the Senior Social Media Manager at Trulia, kicked off the fourth day of South by Southwest Interactive 2014 by talking about all the ways that brands mess up (and kick ass!) on Reddit, which gets millions of visitors per day.

Thawani and Tillman gave several tidbits of information that could help in industry or vertical, which mostly included things that brands shouldn’t do. The overarching theme to their advice was for brands to be genuine and not try too hard. Regular redditors (Reddit users) will be able to tell when an account is fake or representing a company. Easy giveaways included posting memes with their own products featured or trying to post content with accounts that are only one day old.

Reposts of the same content, using hashtags (which aren’t clickable or used on the site), trying to use hip lingo that isn’t in Redditor vernacular in several different sub-reddits was also a dead giveaway that it was a brand or company account trying to be something they aren’t.

Reddit: You're Doing it Wrong sxswi 2014

The Reddit Community

Knowing the community is one of the main things to having a successful Reddit presence as a brand or company. The common Reddit age range is 18 to 40, with the majority being male, according to Thawani and Tillman. Besides not using awkward language as mentioned above, brands trying too hard shows that:

¨You don’t know your community. This has no bearing, no meaning to the users of Reddit.¨

Again, knowing what interests the Reddit community is crucial, as is being open and honest. Sponsoring a post on Reddit is recommended for brands because it shows transparency that this is a post by a brand and they aren’t trying to hide anything.

One such example was Nissan, who created a post stating that they were from the Nissan marketing team and were new to Reddit. They told the community about their plans for selling a Nissan Versa on Amazon and what they thought. This lead to a discussion about the craziest things that redditors have seen on Amazon that they want, like horse masks or celebrity pillowcases. To further engage with the community, the Nissan team started buying the things users mentioned and shipping it to the people who wanted it. This generated great engagement and a positive experience for Reddit users, especially since Nissan wasn’t necessarily asking for anything in return.

Be Playful

Reddit: You're Doing it Wrong sxswi 2014

Thawani and Tillman also recommended being playful and quirky on Reddit as a brand. For example, a redditor posted an angry image and message of his Fathead order, which was supposed to be a Tom Brady wall decal. Instead, he got Tim Tebow. Fathead saw the post and immediately overnighted the original customer every single Fathead of Tom Brady, which he then posted about it (unprovoked by Fathead).

Tillman stated that content like this shows that a company has done it right:

¨You know you’ve done it right when people from the community are organically posting or posting in other places your company hasn’t.¨

Other Reddit Marketing Tips

Here are some other tips that the panel gave us, in bullet form:

  • Follow these subreddits: Heil Corporate, Shut up and take my money, Circle Jerk (NSFW, what the community is sick of talking about), Expectations Versus Reality (advertising versus actual products)
  • Recommended tools, plugins: Reddit Enhancement, Metareddit, Reddit Visualizer, Reddit Investigator (look up information on Reddit users, use with discretion)
  • Look at trending topics and what people are talking about and jump in to make it awesome (Wordbank is a good example where a zoo could have jumped in, or an animal artist)
  • Lurk, then engage (take baby steps), and if you fail, redeem yourself

Main Takeaway

¨This is a community of specialists. People have obsessive interests…Redditors view Reddit as a safe place where they can go and be themselves. When brands try to intrude, they take it personally.¨


All images taken by author.

Kelsey Jones
When she's not editing and scheduling posts, Kelsey Jones manages the Marketing Nerds podcast and moderates SEJ Summit conferences and Marketing ThinkTank webinars. She has... Read Full Bio
Kelsey Jones
Kelsey Jones
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  • eDigitalFields (@edigitalfields)

    I remember that the Reddit was also used by Obama, so there is no doubt that how popular Reddit is. We use Reddits usually for sharing some tips and news related to custom ecommerce development at, http://www.reddit.com/user/eDigitalFields/ – one would can join us.

    • StalkerB (@StalkerB)

      Looks like you’re either banned or shadowbanned if that’s your correct username.

      Looks like you’re redditing wrong as well.

      • Kelsey Jones

        I agree StalkerB

  • processservicesingreece

    nice Tools, Do you More Tools Related to Reddit. IF yes Let me Know. These all tools are awesome to promote my business through reddit.

  • Clayburn

    Here’s a great case about why SEOs should be on Reddit:

  • Dave

    Ugh, don’t use reddit to market your website. That’s not what it’s for. Use it to engage with your customer base and find out what they’re talking about, but they will see right through any kind fo f self-promotion, even if the content you share is worthwhile.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Hi Dave, you are right. The speakers definitely said this multiple times.

  • Laura

    *too hard, not to hard…

    • Kelsey Jones

      Thanks Laura!

  • SRG

    Like many, I’d heard reddit was a great way to share content. Why do so many “experts” tout it as a way for bloggers and freelance writers to get eyes on their work, when it’s clearly not that cut and dry? It seems like there is an awful lot of bad or misleading information floating around about the site. Is it just a general public misunderstanding, or has reddit’s image fallen prey to the ickier side of SEO-self-marketers? Just earlier tonight I deleted my reddit account, angry as hell because no matter what I did, how honest I was, or (in the end) how many questions I asked the admins about staying within their rules, I managed to get “called out”. This was even after a post proved popular and I answered commenters questions, still being honest about where I was coming from (as a person who liked the topic, but wasn’t an expert on it). I was slammed for engaging. I was slammed for posting a link that had 80 upvotes (and 10 down) because the link was from my own site (where I don’t do advertising!). Apparently I *was* doing it wrong, but it certainly didn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy enough to want to try again in the future.

  • Kelsey Jones (@wonderwall7)

    Hey SRG, im sorry you had a bad experience. Maybe it was giving a link at all that left a bad impression. I’m a reddit newbie myself so I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

    • SRG

      Thanks Kelsey! I checked out your site and it looks like you are doing fantastic work! We need more of you in mid-sized Southern cities that are a bit slow to catch on to the importance of social media. I appreciate the kind words.

      • Kelsey Jones (@wonderwall7)

        Thank you, I appreciate it. 🙂 And thanks for being a reader of SEJ! 🙂