Reddit for Brands: Navigating the Front Page of the Internet

Khoros Strategic Services


In the immense world of social media platforms, Reddit stands out as a unique and powerful channel for brands to engage with their audience. With 52 million daily active users, “the front page of the internet," offers a wide range of opportunities for brands to connect with potential customers, gather valuable insights, and create loyal communities. But like any social media platform, Reddit comes with its own set of rules and challenges. In this article, we'll explore whether brands should use Reddit, how to use it effectively, and what key considerations they should consider when engaging in this space.

First of All, Should Brands Use Reddit?

Reddit can be a valuable addition to almost any brand's social media strategy, but it's not for everyone. Several factors should inform the decision to utilize Reddit:

  • Audience Alignment: Reddit has a diverse user base, with countless subreddits catering to various interests and niche groups. Brands should assess whether their target audience is actually active on the platform and if there are relevant communities where their products or services would be appreciated.

  • Transparency and Authenticity: Reddit users value transparency and authenticity. Brands that are open to genuine conversations, feedback, and criticism tend to perform better on the platform, in contrast with brands who try to use the platform solely for self-promotion. Hello Tushy leaned into their uniquely irreverent brand tone of voice on the platform, successfully earning hundreds of upvotes and replies on their posts found across various (cheeky) subreddits.

  • Time Commitment: Engaging on Reddit can be time-consuming. Consistent participation and engagement is essential to build trust and a positive reputation within the community. Brands must be prepared to invest time and effort.

What makes Reddit challenging for brands?

  • Demographics: Due to a lack of detail about Reddit’s users, derived from the little information required to create a profile or account, it is difficult for brands to find their specific demographic. Additionally, there is a vast gaming community on Reddit, which means that the home page often leans towards topics related to the tech industry.

  • Community Relationships: Reddit users leverage the platform to express their honest opinions, get the views of others, and foster genuine connections. They demand authenticity and will quickly scorn brands who attempt to use the platform as a controlled PR experience.

  • Discussion First: Reddit puts discussion first rather than focusing on content, which makes it highly different from other platforms. Non-promoted brand material that feels like an overt or generic advertisement may get downvoted or marked as spam.

  • No Verification: Users cannot search for legitimate company profiles because profiles cannot be verified on the platform.

  • Content: Reddit's user base is well-known for being highly discerning and critical. Brands should think "audience first" and focus on generating engaging conversations with the audience on the platform, supplemented with compelling content that is unique and separate from that of their Instagram or Facebook editorial.

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How to Use Reddit Effectively?

Once you’ve established whether or not your brand aligns with Reddit's user base and values, here's how your team can leverage the platform effectively:

  • Identify Relevant Subreddits: Start by identifying subreddits that align with your brand's niche. Participate in discussions, offer insights, and answer questions without overtly promoting your products or services. Focus on providing unique value to the community.

  • Host AMAs (Ask Me Anything): AMAs are a fantastic way to humanize your brand and engage directly with the Reddit community. Invite a representative from your company to answer questions and share insights. Ensure your representative is well-prepared and transparent. Also, remember to gauge sentiment towards your brand before conducting an AMA, or it could turn out to be a negative experience. (Want to know more about how to conduct AMA’s on Reddit? Keep reading!)

  • Leverage User-Generated Content: Encourage Reddit users to create content related to your brand. Whether it's fan art, reviews, or testimonials, user-generated content can be a powerful endorsement. Warning: Try to be as authentic as possible, as encouraging users to create brand-related content could be perceived as promotional by the community and cause brand backlash. Lenovo successfully leveraged the creativity of their community on the platform by creating a contest for fans to submit their best 8-bit art for a satirical campaign that ultimately poked fun at themselves.

  • Monitor Your Reputation: Reddit provides an incredible opportunity to look at what people are passionate about and how they discuss those interests with others. The best practice for brands entering the space is to lead by listening first. Use tools like Reddit's built-in analytics and third-party monitoring tools (like Talkwalker) to track mentions of your brand, paying special attention to the sentiment of conversations to help inform your brand's unique strategy before engaging with the Reddit community.

Should Brands Create Their Own Subreddit? A Double-Edged Sword

The idea of creating a branded subreddit can be enticing, but it comes with its own set of challenges. While it may seem appealing to have a dedicated space for discussions related to your brand, it can be seen as a heavy-handed attempt at self-promotion, potentially alienating the Reddit community. Brands like Marvel Studios and Microsoft have been successful with their own subreddits, while others have not.

Here's a list of pros and cons on creating your own subreddit:


  • Controlled Environment: With your own subreddit, you have greater control over the content and discussions. This can be especially beneficial if you want to curate a specific brand image.

  • Community Building: A well-managed subreddit can foster a sense of community among your customers and fans. It allows them to connect, share experiences, and build brand loyalty.

  • Direct Communication: You can directly communicate with your audience without the noise of other subreddits. This can be advantageous for announcements, updates, and gathering feedback.

Cons of Creating a Branded Subreddit:

  • Perceived Bias: Reddit users are wary of branded subreddits that appear overly promotional. It's crucial to strike a balance between self-promotion and genuine community engagement.

  • Resource Intensive: Managing a subreddit requires significant time and effort. Regularly moderating content, responding to comments, and fostering a positive atmosphere demand dedicated resources.

  • Potential for Backlash: If not handled carefully, a branded subreddit can backfire, leading to negative sentiment and even boycotts. Transparency and a commitment to community well-being are essential.

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Exercise Caution when creating a branded subreddit

Considering the potential pros and cons, our recommendation is to exercise caution when creating a branded subreddit. It can be a valuable asset if managed transparently and with a genuine commitment to community-building. However, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, and brands should carefully weigh the benefits against the potential downsides.

We recommend pairing a robust social listening strategy to first gauge sentiment towards your brand, paired with an outbound strategy (ie. participating as a brand on third-party subreddits) to collect information about the community reaction to your engagement in said subreddit, and then use this information to better inform your decision to open a subreddit or not.

Ready to conduct a Reddit AMA for your brand? These are some best practices you should follow:

  • Choose the right timing and subreddit: Timing is crucial. Schedule your AMA when your target audience is most active on Reddit. Consider different time zones to maximize participation.

  • Select the most relevant subreddit to host your AMA: Ensure it aligns with your brand and the topic you'll be discussing. For broader topics, you can use popular subreddits like r/IAmA or r/AMA, while niche subreddits might be better for specialized issues.

  • Prepare and be transparent: Invest time in preparing thoughtful and informative answers. Redditors appreciate in-depth responses. Be transparent about your identity and affiliations. Redditors value honesty, and hiding your identity can lead to a negative backlash. Bonus points if you bring a representative from your company who can give an “insider” POV of things!

  • Follow up and express gratitude: After the AMA, take the time to follow up on any unanswered questions or engage in ongoing conversations if relevant. Express gratitude to the Reddit community for their participation and feedback. A simple thank-you post can go a long way in leaving a positive impression.

Remember that Reddit's community values authenticity and meaningful interactions. If you approach your AMA with the intention of providing value and engaging genuinely with participants, you're more likely to have a successful and well-received session.

Want to know more about other brands with highly successful Reddit strategies?

  • Toyota utilized the Formula one subreddit to promote a video of two professional drivers racing Supras. The content was promoted, but the audience in the subreddit has already expressed a strong interest in racing. Toyota also kept the video entertaining, which helps to mitigate the dreaded "ad effect" on the platform.

  • This fan-made Xbox One subreddit is the perfect example of what can happen when your brand has a significant following. Xbox recognized this as a unique opportunity to engage with their fans, where they already are. Eventually, even official Xbox developers joined the conversations, rewarding fans in the space with exclusive content and answering FAQs.

In conclusion, Reddit can be a powerful tool for brands willing to invest the time and effort to engage authentically with its diverse user base. By identifying relevant subreddits, hosting AMAs, and leveraging user-generated content, brands can tap into the Reddit community's vast potential. As for branded subreddits, proceed cautiously, and always prioritize transparency and community well-being in your Reddit strategy. When used thoughtfully, Reddit can become a valuable addition to your social media arsenal, helping you navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing successfully.

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