Getting your product or brand’s name out there is always a good thing, but bigger doesn’t always necessarily translate to better. It can be beneficial for you to have many followers on your brand’s Instagram page or thousands of likes on its business page, but you have to ask yourself if you are truly hitting the bullseye when it comes to your target audience. Many small and large companies, brands, and influencers have been flocking to the niche social platform Reddit in order to test out new social strategies and see how they can focus their efforts on more narrow audiences.
Roxanne Simonnet (2017) acknowledges the benefits of being on larger platforms due to high traffic and active users in the millions; however, she also points out the importance of being present on niche social platforms, arguing that the return on investment is higher despite the lower traffic and more narrow audiences. Roxanne (2017) argues that a more highly targeted audience translates to a higher conversion rate, but also claims that being present on niche platforms shouldn’t replace maintaining presence on large networks, but rather complement your existing social strategies.
A smaller client base presents benefits such as enhanced client relationships which come from focusing more on the quality of the interactions, less competition, and greater word of mouth advertising (Niche Marketing, n.d.).
“Your effectiveness on social media is largely determined by the ability to locate your audience and then tailor your communication to fit their needs” (Simonnet, 2017).
Reddit is the essential niche platform for focusing on locating your audience due to its composition of “subreddits”, small communities for any interest one can think of that function very similar to groups on Facebook. A stark contrast between Reddit and Facebook is that Reddits users are constantly browsing through topics they want to be a part of whereas Facebook users are mostly looking to connect with friends and watch cute puppy videos, so branded content has a better fit for Reddit where it just comes off as intrusive for Facebook (Csutoras, 2018).
Reddit has large, engaged audiences, and as a result, social strategies have to cater to each unique audience. According to a case study from Search Engine Journal, those who focus their efforts on integrating within the Reddit community without coming off as inauthentic can expect benefits like selling products, driving traffic, and reaching your audience’s interests (Csutoras, 2018). Jumping unto the Reddit bandwagon is no easy feat, however. Big Eye Agency (2020) emphasize this challenge, mentioning how the platform has a reputation for harsh critics and no patience for inauthentic marketing ploys, which can bring a lot of harm to your brand. Big Eye (2020) also brings up the relatively high-income and educated audience for Reddit, given that a fairly high amount of its users earn at least $75,000 a year and are college educated.
Brands and influencers wanting to try out strategies on Reddit must understand Reddit’s unique structure and make an effort to come off as authentic as possible while simultaneously having to gage the audience’s everchanging tone (which occurs even among similar topics). Users check your post history for spam, posts linking directly to sales pages, and other examples of nonauthentic activity. Businesses can engage on Reddit through posts with meaningful and engaging content, which can consist of text, video, links, or images, carefully cultivating an authentic profile page, and through their Ask Me Anything subreddit where they can interact with their communities by having people of interest participate in these AMAs, not to mention the sponsored posts which can help drive brand awareness.
According to Csutoras (2018), in order to make it in Reddit, you need to become a community member, avoid spamming the system, and be careful with excessive and blatant marketing efforts. Csutoras considers Reddit more real than other social networks, which is what makes it appear more difficult.
Pamela Bump from HubSpot (2019) published an article showcasing ten brands which have used Reddit for marketing. One example of a social media faux pas she highlights is the moment the major game publisher EA replied to a comment in a thread about a game they created, Starwars: Battlefront II, in which they defended some questionable decisions that many who played a pre-release version of said game were especially vocal about how frustrating these were, without offering any solution to the issue that had so many up in arms. The comment, needless to say, was massively downvoted, which showcases how one of Reddit’s central features can make or break a brand on the platform.
On the other end, you have successful stories which come as a result of brands analyzing this niche platform and finding and employing the right strategy based on their observations. Pamela (2019) brings up the subreddit for the Xbox One, an extremely popular video game console from Microsoft. Users actually created an unofficial subreddit for the console and beat Microsoft to the punch, but this did not go unnoticed: Xbox One game developers began hosting AMAs on the subreddit, “rewarding loyal fans with exclusive content and finding a low-hanging fruit opportunity on a niche platform.” The brand saw many of its loyal fans on the subreddit creating a ton of posts and discussion threads about its games and the console itself, so Xbox executives and developers added content, making it a highly engaging exchanging of thoughts.
The concept of subreddits has revealed much untapped potential. I myself have seen lots of engaging posts on Reddit from up and coming startups and brands which interact with their existing and potential audiences on a much more constant level than you would find on the larger social platforms. Focusing on target audiences through these subreddits narrows down where you want to focus your efforts on and reduces your competition.
Take artists who want to sell and display their work, for example. These creators have an amazing marketing opportunity in Reddit. Let’s say you like to paint custom designs on white tennis shoes. You realize you have a talent for this, and want to start taking commissions for them. These designs can range from anything, and if it’s something you really enjoy, you could focus on the subreddit for that topic of interest and promote your content there, while at the same time letting that audience know you’re passionate about that particular interest and aren’t doing it just for upvotes or sales.
If you’re a huge Batman fan, you could paint Batman and Robin on white tennis shoes, share your creation, link to your portfolios which could be on Instagram or Facebook, and start to amass interest in your work. Followers of the Batman subreddit could potentially fall in love with your art, and some of those may want to contact you for a pair of their own. To think that this is just one example of the endless marketing opportunities Reddit has as a niche platform.
Big Eye Agency. (2020, June 3). Using a Reddit marketing strategy to reach niche audiences. https://www.bigeyeagency.com/insights/using-a-reddit-marketing-strategy-to-reach-niche-audiences/
Bump, P. (2019, September 25). How 10 brands use Reddit for marketing. HubSpot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/reddit-marketing
Castro, A. (2018). Reddit’s Qanon ban points to how it’s tracking toxic communities[Photograph]. Theverge.com. https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/12/17847186/reddit-qanon-milliondollarextreme-ban-sam-hyde
Csutoras, B. (2018, July 23). Why every marketer should be on Reddit. Search Engine Journal. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-every-marketer-should-be-on-reddit/262239/#close
Delaney, K. (2018). Why you should consider niche social media platforms as part of your social media strategy [Photograph]. Rdwgroup.com. https://rdwgroup.com/blog/niche-social-media-platforms/
DFY Niche Websites. (n.d.). 5 advantages of niche marketing. https://www.dfynichewebsites.com/5-advantages-of-niche-marketing/#.YBmKXulIM6s.reddit
Simonnet, R. (2017, December 27). The importance of niche social media channels. Envano. https://www.envano.com/2017/12/importance-of-niche-social-media-channels/