Redditors are merciless, and marketers are really slow on the uptake.

We know: it’s hard to resist trying with so many eyeballs in one place. Reddit boasts 430M monthly active users—more than Twitter, and growing!—and there’s also growth in virtually every interest category. But while the company is among the top 5 most visited websites, it only crept over the $100M revenue mark last year. Compare that to Google that did $95 billion in ad sales over the same period.

But Reddit has been adding features (like cost-per-click ad inventory in addition to CPM inventory) looking to bring in more ad dollars. With millions of active users and increased frustration with the Google/Facebook duopoly, marketers are ready to listen.

It looks like a gold mine, and maybe it is… but Reddit is the wild wild west, and they shoot to kill.

When marketing on Reddit, keep these warnings tips in mind:

  • Reddit can be actively hostile to conventional marketing. Redditors despise traditional ads and corporate interests, and they’re shameless about saying so. The most-downvoted comment of 2019 was from EA Games (the EA post was an attempt to defend an unpopular decision they made about one of their video games), and the most upvoted post of 2019 expressed fear of Chinese censorship given the size of Chinese investments in Reddit’s Series D. Pander to them and they’ll put you in the ground.
  • They don’t just ignore—they downvote. Usually, indifference is the worst reaction a marketer can get—but on Reddit, people who don’t like a post will shoot it down. Redditors push the downvote button like elevator passengers press > | < — and it doesn’t take many downvotes to drown something for good.
  • Redditors demand the value upfront. Whatever you have to offer them—information, entertainment, cute animal pictures—you’d better bring it on a silver platter. After that, you’re at the mercy of the comments, because unlike the rest of the Internet, that’s what Redditors see first. Only after this trial by fire can your posts get any valuable attention.
  • Reddit requires high-maintenance moderation. There’s no way to delete anyone’s comments from Reddit—even if it’s a comment on your post, on a subreddit you created. That said, Reddit ads do allow you to turn off the comments function. But for organic posting, you’ll need to be vigilant and answer people quickly. You don’t want the mob to start turning against you while your back is turned.

Still… if you have resources, ingenuity, and a little luck, you can take your swing at this massive opportunity. Sure, people died on the Oregon Trail—but the first ones to California found the most gold.

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