You probably know what Reddit is, but do you understand its full value to PR?
Though the site’s popularity has increased exponentially in the past year, its role in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombers placed it as a vital piece of mainstream media coverage, albeit a controversial one.
The self-proclaimed front page of the Internet did take some flak for creating a flurry of rumors about the identities of the bombers (Reddit later issued an apology), but hugely popular outlets such as Buzzfeed have come to rely on Reddit.
For PR professionals, Reddit holds huge potential in generating interest online. It’s possible that one day a successful post on Reddit could be as rewarding as an article in The New York Times.
According to Reddit, it is “a source for what’s new and popular on the Web.” As of May 2013, Reddit had almost 70 million unique visitors from 180 countries. Given stats like these, who wouldn’t want to jump on the Reddit train?
Not so fast, though. Knowing “Reddiquette” before you do so is an essential step to becoming a respected and valued member. Following are some best practices that PR people should know before engaging:
1. Stay focused.
Reddit consists of hundreds of sub-Reddits on a multitude of subjects and are good places to find topics and fellow Redditors that are most relevant to you. For example, in the technology sub-Reddit, you can find conversations about the latest smartphones, technology company news, and new legislation regarding technology. Commenting on relevant posts will gain you respect in the community and possible “upvotes,” and it increases the probability that people will read and share your information.
2. Put yourself out there.
Ask Me Anything, or AMAs, are Reddit’s version of a media briefing—the AMA host briefly describes himself or herself and then fields questions from interested Reddit users. AMAs may be best known for including President Obama, Don Lemon, and Dan Rather, but there’s room for the common man and budding stars as well. Anyone who has a fascinating story or interesting information to share is welcome to do an AMA. The key to a successful AMA is authenticity and the willingness to answer almost any question that comes your way. The easiest way to develop a negative reputation is to misrepresent who is hosting the AMA (e.g., the PR rep posing as a company CEO) and attempting to focus only on self-serving company news. Hosting an authentic and open AMA (pictures or videos are helpful) can earn you many karma points and will bolster the company’s reputation.
3. Be a respectful participant.
Reddit is wildly popular, but it cannot and should not be treated like any other place on the Web. To ensure a productive and friendly community, each sub-Reddit has its own rules and guidelines. Read them and memorize them before you engage. For example, URL shorteners (common in most other places on the Web) are banned in some sub-Reddits. Posting a large batch of company blog posts, press releases, and infographics when you first join is seriously frowned upon and will immediately discredit you as a contributing member of the community. It’s best to participate in a smaller way at first and then increase participation from there. As you gain the respect of fellow Redditors, you will soon have the reputation to create posts that will increase brand awareness and drive website traffic.
If you’re still wondering how to make the jump to Reddit, check out this post from veteran Redditors about how companies should engage in the community.
Caroline Farhat is an account coordinator at InkHouse Media + Marketing. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s blog.