Reddit Using It For Marketing The Hidden Gem Of The Internet

Reddit Using It For Marketing The Hidden Gem Of The Internet

Reddit Using It For Marketing The Hidden Gem Of The Internet

The challenge of marketing on Reddit

At a glance, Reddit might seem the perfect place for marketers and brands to engage with customers.

And sure, it can be.

But just like any social network, you can’t just dump a bunch of links on people and expect traction.

This is especially true on Reddit, a platform that thrives on a sense of community. Users don’t take kindly to people trying to sell to them without contributing to the community.

Also, users on Reddit can see through thinly-veiled attempts at promotion and are often hostile toward them. That’s why many subreddits have explicit rules that restrict advertising.

Does this mean that Reddit is against businesses? Not. They take a firm stance on self-promotion. Perhaps they put it best themselves:

“It’s perfectly fine to be a Redditor with a website, it’s not okay to be a website with a Reddit account.”

Reddit has no problem with businesses joining the platform. The key is that those businesses need to focus on community relationships and value versus selling. Here’s their “tl;dr” to anyone interested in marketing on Reddit:

“Don’t just spam out your links, and don’t blindly upvote your own content or ask anyone else to! Why? Because Reddit is a community, not a platform for self-promotion.”

Remember that Reddit boasts its ad platform and sponsored posts for brands. With advertising partners such as Audi, Poshmark, and Adobe, it’s silly to say Reddit is antibusiness.

h conversations about brands and products are all the rage on Reddit. People love using the platform to discuss businesses because all content is authentic and unfiltered (hint: no brands butting in).

The takeaway is that there is a place for businesses on Reddit: you have to familiarize yourself with the platform before posting.

What is the best way to approach marketing on Reddit, then?

Even if you never plan on business building a presence on Reddit, you should, at the very least, understand how brands use the platform.

And if nothing else, Reddit is a brilliant place to conduct market research and maintain a pulse on trends in your industry and beyond.

Below are some ideas for how to use Reddit for business and marketing based on your brand.

Uncover customer feedback and suggestions

As noted earlier, Reddit is a potential treasure trove of conversations relevant to businesses.

From your audience’s favorite products to what people say about your competitors, you don’t have to look hard for customers asking for advice and recommendations.

However, the key here isn’t for you to intervene or take action.

Instead, listen.

By keeping tabs on conversations about your products or competitors, you can better understand where you’re winning, where you might fall short, and how you can improve.

For example, check out this /r/personalfinance discussion about IRA accounts. This conversation highlights real-world problems and concerns from banking customers, stressing specific pain points and why one bank might be preferable to another.

Engage with customers from a personal account

This is a subtle tip but one worth mentioning.

Ideally, you don’t want to approach Redditors with an inactive account potentially. Accumulating posts and comments on the site might take time, but it is worth proving to your community that you aren’t a spammer.

Some companies get around this by approaching customers from a personal, non-corporate account.

For example, Beardbrand’s Eric Banholtz is a seasoned Redditor and regularly comments on brand and beard-related topics from his account.

Why Reddit is So Tricky for Marketers

As mentioned, the social network focuses on community building and online discussion rather than highlighting individual profiles or specific content. Posts and comment threads called subreddits move up and down on feeds based on upvotes and downvotes from users.

As you might expect, upvotes are like Facebook likes, which signal Reddit algorithms to move content up. Downvotes do the opposite by moving less engaging content down.

Posts that engage hundreds of others will get moved up and seen by more users. Meanwhile, content that bores or annoys many users get driven down where it might not even be seen. This causes users to see a feed that might be more engaging. But, this can also mean that non-promoted branded material that feels like a generic advertisement could get downvoted or marked as spam.

Another thing that makes Reddit challenging is that you can’t easily search for legitimate company profiles or official business pages. In fact, according to posts from this thread, you cannot verify a profile on the platform, and “anyone can be anyone” on Reddit.

Yes. That’s scary.

There is a search filter for “Users and Communities,” but you’ll primarily see results for the most active subreddits, which anyone could create.

This differs from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where you can easily search for people and verified business pages.

If a customer seeks information on a product and searches for a brand, they might see unofficial community pages that host more specific subreddits about the company. However, fans or customers usually create almost all of this content.

For Example, Search McDonald’s on Reddit

Although you see several communities related to McDonald’s, none say they’re official or run by the restaurant chain. When you click into them, their moderators seem to be Redditors that aren’t affiliated with the brand.

Although they aren’t brand affiliated, these communities can still be helpful to users and even companies. A prospect searching Reddit to learn more about a specific product might find great customer-posted chatter about the item they’re considering.

Gamers, for example, flock to the platform to discuss new launches, pro-tips, and issues they might be having while playing a popular video game. Similarly, users might create a subreddit or community about a restaurant, like Burger King, to talk about the weird or interesting things they’ve seen at the chain.

Since threads show positive and negative feedback, users might even recognize that positive feedback is more legitimate since user comments would destroy the product if it were of terrible quality.

Common Reddit Marketing Strategies

If you want to get your content front and center quickly, you might want to consider promoting your posts.

Promoting your posts will allow you to keep them prioritized higher up in subreddits and target them to specific groups of users. Like promoted posts on Facebook and other platforms, there will be an icon on the bar that says it’s promoted. So, although the posts will be higher up, users will still know that it didn’t get to the top of the thread they’re reading on their own.


promoted content on Reddit feed

There seem to be two major promotional strategies for brands that don’t want to pay for native ads. Hosting an “Ask Me Anything” thread is the first and most prominent. The second strategy involves starting or participating in a subreddit discussion about your brand, product, or industry. Here’s an example of what one of these posts looks like:

When “Ask Me Anything” (or AMA) threads are live, an influencer, executive, or staff member from the company creates a post announcing who they are and encouraging Redditors to ask them questions.

This type of promotion is best when you have an influencer or interesting person affiliated with your brand who can answer questions quickly and in an engaging way. However, pulling attention to these promotions can be difficult if you don’t have an exciting host in mind.

The other primary marketing strategy involves creating or participating in relevant subreddits. Starting a discussion gives prospective or current customers a place to talk about what they like about your product or provide you with feedback. If they use your thread or a user-created thread to point out issues or compliment your product, you can respond to them accordingly to show that you’re interested in what they’re saying.

One downside to starting or participating in a thread is that you might need to watch the comments. If you receive a lot of negative feedback, you’ll want a community manager or team member to address it quickly and in a way that doesn’t feel like a fake PR-styled comment.

You cannot delete other people’s posts, even if they’re on your created subreddit.

Because Reddit is such a niche platform and might require extra experimentation and brainstorming, we don’t encourage small businesses to put all of their time and effort into it just yet.

But, if you want to test out a few posts — or even start a subreddit — here are a few examples of brands that creatively marketed themselves on the platform.

Examples of Brands on Reddit


Toyota recently promoted a video-based post in the Formula 1 subreddit. Because this subreddit discusses everything related to Formula 1 race cars, Toyota’s video of two drivers racing Supras fit well within the stream of posts.

Toyota promoted content on Reddit

Even though Toyota’s content is promoted, the brand still focuses on telling Redditors an action-packed story about racing rather than forcing a traditional ad on them.

By promoting a post specifically in a Formula 1 subreddit, they are leveraging an audience that has already shown a strong interest in cars and the video’s topic.

If you promote Reddit content, take a note from Toyota by picking out a few subreddits that fit your brand. Then, make content entertaining or give value to those audiences rather than just promoting a post with a generic ad.







Ally Bank

While Toyota made content for a specific subreddit that aligned with its brand, Ally Bank got creative by creating and promoting content specifically for the Playstation subreddit.

A banking ad seems like a stretch for an audience that loves video games. So, to connect the two topics, Ally created an advertisement with an interesting analogy: “You wouldn’t settle for a 1-star controller, so why settle for a 1-star bank?”

Promoted content from Ally Bank on Reddit

This is pretty clever. While gamers might not respond well to a standard banking app advertisement, they might identify with buying a lousy controller or heavily researching game-related purchases. This ad might make them question why they haven’t put the same amount of interest in a bank.

Later, when they go to make a banking decision, they might remember the bank more than others because it relates to a suitable gaming controller.

This is an interesting example of how you can experiment and think outside the box to create content that still fits in a subreddit that doesn’t immediately align with your brand.






Lemonade Inc.

Lemonade, an insurance app, created a promoted post targeted at a fast-food subreddit. This video highlights how insurance payments that cost as much as fast food items could help you later cover property losses.

Promoted Content from Lemonade on Reddit

If you’re in the finance or insurance industry, it can be great to create and share content that shows people how valuable and affordable investments can be. This ad shows fast-food fans how much they can benefit from investing the money they’d spend on purchases into an insurance or savings plan.












AMA Promotion


Nissan was one of the early companies to experiment with the AMA format in 2015. During the promotion, their CEO created a thread in the subreddit “IAmA.” He introduced himself in his first thread post, talked about a Nissan launch, and invited people to ask him questions.

While some people asked him about the product, others asked more profound questions like “What’s your rival brand?”

Nissan AMA on Reddit

While the questions might not always be product-specific, this content can be attractive to car fans who want to learn more about the business or its new products.

Additionally, the fact that Nissan’s busy CEO gives time to answer questions might make customers trust him and the brand more.

Rather than thinking of him as a business executive, Redditors might begin to identify him more as a down-to-Earth business owner who wants to create an excellent product for his customers.


The Economist

While Nissan leveraged its leadership for an AMA, The Economist, a London-based news publication, regularly has staff writers host these threads.

Recently, they had an obituary writer answer questions about her life and her job.

The Economist AMA on reddit

Although you might not immediately think a Q&A with an obituary writer could be an effective way to market your news publication, Redditors engaged in the thread and asked several interesting questions.

The Economist AMA replies on Reddit

Because The Economist does this regularly, Redditors can look inside at what motivates the publication’s writers. After reading a few of these, users might relate to and trust The Economist’s writers. Because of this trust, they might look to this paper when searching for a credible source.

The publication highlights a wide range of writers; users could learn more about why each section can be fascinating.

For example, someone who’s never read the obituary section of a paper might want to look at it after learning about some of the unique life stories the writer covers.









Using Reddit’s streaming feature, Audi posted AMAs with a visual twist. In a series of live streams, celebrities sped around in Audi’s newest car on a test track. As they hit high speeds, the stars answered questions from Redditors.

Audi AMA livestream on Reddit

While most AMAs are text-based, Audi leveraged one of the platform’s new features to do something exciting and unique. Although people might not be drawn to car brands or a thread that only uses text, they might be interested in watching an action-packed celebrity AMA.

Suppose you aren’t on Reddit but want to show your product in action. In that case, you could do something similar by having a leader of your company or an influencer in your industry do a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram live video where they take comment-based questions while using that item.




To promote the launch of its BFR rocket, SpaceX had CEO Elon Musk host an AMA. Not only is Musk a chief officer who’s highly knowledgeable about his product, but he’s also a prominent tech-industry thought leader.

Rather than posting this thread on a SpaceX subreddit, it was hosted on a broad subreddit called r/space.

This can be a great way to gain awareness from all space fans, rather than just Redditors who already follow SpaceX subreddits.

Because he’s regularly in the news for his work with space technology and autonomous vehicles, Musk might be incredibly interesting to people who follow r/space — even if they haven’t heard of him yet.

SpaceX Elon Musk AMA on Reddit

While you might not have someone of Musk-level fame on your company’s team, this is an excellent example of how SpaceX identified a subreddit where its most giant possible pool of Reddit fans could be. Then, they contributed to the community interestingly and engagingly.

If you’re a business that wants to experiment with Reddit, you should consider posting engaging content that ties to your product or brand in a broad subreddit yet is relevant to your brand.

For example, if you’re in the fashion industry, you could have your company’s clothing designer host an AMA in a fashion-related subreddit. Or, if you don’t have a team member who can host an AMA, you could ask a question in a post, such as, “What’s your favorite fall fashion?” and then respond to replies.

Branded Subreddits


In 2014, Nordstrom tweeted that they’d launched a new Nordstrom community. Since then, users have posted on the subreddit to discuss new products, share experiences related to being a Nordstrom employee, and ask customer-service or product-related questions.

Nordstrom Subreddit

If you’d like to create an online community of fans, Reddit could be a great platform. However, because the platform prioritizes engaging user-generated content, you’ll also want to promote the subreddit on other social media as Nordstrom did. Otherwise, you might rely on users to stumble upon your branded subreddit or search for it independently.

Because the channel doesn’t feel censored and you see both good and bad comments about products, consumers can do solid research on a product or two before deciding which they should buy.

If you see positive feedback on this subreddit, you might trust it even more and purchase the product knowing that Nordstrom customers would likely bad-talk the product here if it were not good.


Sometimes, brands don’t need to create and grow their own subreddits. If there are enough fans, Redditors will start one. However, even if a brand doesn’t make one, it might still leverage it and contribute content.

XboxOne is an example of this. At some point, users created a giant subreddit where they could talk about Xbox games, ask technical questions, and offer pro tips. But, on a reasonably regular basis, XboxOne game developers began to host AMAs on the subreddit. This happened so regularly that a Developer AMAs tab was added to the subreddit’s top navigation.

User Generated XBox subreddit where Xbox reps participate in discussion

In this example, Xbox rewards loyal fans with exclusive content and finds a low-hanging fruit opportunity on a niche platform.

While Reddit isn’t for everyone, the brand realized that many die-hard fans were there and had already created hundreds of discussions about its products. Rather than spending time on producing a new subreddit, Xbox reps and developers added to communities that already exist.

If you have a brand or product that is getting a lot of web chatter on any platform, it can be great to chime in and boost discussion about it. This can make your fans feel you’re accessible to them if they have questions or feedback.

Additionally, if you join the discussion with a piece of interesting content or a brand-related announcement, fans also might feel like they’re being rewarded for being a great customer. All in all, this might make them more loyal to your brand.

Suppose you’re not planning to make Reddit part of your strategy. In that case, you could alternatively pay attention and respond to positive posts or comment threads that discuss your brand on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

Reddit is still a mystery to many marketers. And, if you don’t have an advertising budget, you’ll need to get creative and strategic to engage audiences.

Right now, the brands that will transition most easily onto the platform are companies that would benefit from community management.

For example, gaming is a crucial Reddit topic because gamers constantly use it to ask for tips, tricks, and cheat codes. Because of this, gaming companies might benefit from joining in on video game discussions with posts or threads that provide value or helpful information.

If you want to start learning more about the platform by testing a few threads, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t post content that feels like an ad or press release. The Reddit community quickly down-vote advertise-y posts or mark them as spam.
  2. This audience will respond more to content that gives them value, even if it’s branded. So, whether you’re creating a tip thread about your product, responding to users, or hosting an AMA, ensure you’re giving Redditors valuable information or interesting content that they’ll upvote or share.
  3. Identify the best communities for your industry and find unique ways to engage with them. For example, if you sell gardening products, you might want to host an AMA on gardening in an agriculture subreddit.

If you’re still struggling with the platform and have a budget to play with, you could also consider sponsoring a post or buying a more traditional native ad block.

Currently, Reddit is still a pretty niche platform, and you should only consider it paid content there if your mission or content aligns with Reddit audiences or various subreddits.

However, Reddit ads are starting to gain steam from more prominent brands. Because the platform aims to improve its marketing features, small to mid-sized businesses might also be able to realistically budget this strategy shortly.

If Reddit doesn’t feel like the right platform for your marketing strategy, check out this guide to see if any of the newest social media platforms pique your interest.

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