Your Guide to Reddit & How to Use it for Your Ecommerce Business

August 10, 2020

Promoting your ecommerce business on social media is an excellent way to find new customers. 

Considering that over 90% of U.S. businesses are currently engaged in social media marketing, you’re likely already using popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to promote your store

But what about Reddit?

Reddit homepage
Image source: Reddit

This platform may not be as popular as Facebook, but it still has a big enough audience to credibly use “the front page of the internet” as its slogan. Reddit’s 430 million active users make it the 11th most popular social network in the world, and it’s the seventh most popular site in the U.S. as well. There’s certainly a lot of opportunity to find new customers here. 

Marketing on Reddit can be tricky if you go in with the sole intention of being self-promotional (hint: don't do that on any platform).

But, if you take the time to earn the trust of this community by actively engaging in discussions and contributing genuinely interesting or entertaining content, you can establish yourself as an authority in your industry and generate some customers who are particularly loyal to your brand. 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up your profile and best practices that you should follow when marketing on Reddit. 

How Does Reddit Work?

The first thing to understand about Reddit is that the “Reddit community” is not a single cohesive group of people. Rather, it’s a collection of thousands of different forums that each have their own set of regular users (these forums within Reddit are known as subreddits). 

The titles of subreddits all have the prefix “‘r/”, which is how they show up in Reddit’s URL structure. There are subreddits for specific hobbies, sports teams, cities and just about any other topic you can discuss. There are also more creatively themed subreddits, such as r/explainlikeimfive, where experts break down complicated topics in simple terms, and r/nottheonion, where users share news stories that sound too ridiculous to be true. 

Subreddits function like a standard forum — users can create a post that either contains original content or links to another source, and each post has a comments section where users can discuss the content. 

Users also have the option of upvoting or downvoting both posts and comments, which is how the visibility of posts and comments is established. Posts or comments with the highest total votes (upvotes minus downvotes) will be shown at the top of the page, while posts or comments with more downvotes than upvotes will be buried out of sight. 

Another thing that sets Reddit apart from other platforms is that, unlike Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there’s no way to follow individual accounts. Instead, the posts that show up in a Reddit user’s homepage feed is determined entirely by which subreddits they subscribe to. 

The Benefits of Marketing on Reddit

Reddit is a unique platform, which allows it to offer some unique benefits as a marketing channel. 

In addition to using Reddit as a way to spread awareness and increase traffic to your online store, you should also take advantage of the in-depth discussions that frequently take place here.

Subscribing to subreddits that are relevant to your business (for example, vintage clothing shops should be sure to subscribe to r/OldSchoolCool) will provide you with an incredible level of insight into the opinions of your average customer. And with Reddit’s upvoting system, it’s easy to tell which opinions are popular and therefore especially worth paying attention to. This is an excellent tool for market research. 

While the demographics of each subreddit vary wildly, as a whole, Reddit users are disproportionately male, (67% of Reddit users are male, compared to 49% of all U.S. adults), young (64% are between the ages of 18 to 29, compared to 22% of all U.S. adults) and college-educated (42% have a college degree, compared to 28% of all U.S. adults). 

If those demographics line up with the type of people who tend to shop at your store, then you would be wise to establish a presence on this platform. 

How to Set Up Your Reddit Profile

One of Reddit’s most distinct features is its stripped-down, minimalist design — and setting up your account on Reddit is as simple as how the site looks. 

To create an account for your store, just follow these steps:

1. After going to reddit.com, select “SIGN UP.” 

Select "SIGN UP" on the reddit homepage
Image source: Reddit

2. Enter your email address and select “NEXT.”

Enter your email address and select “NEXT.”
Image source: Reddit

3. Enter a username and password for your account. For your username, it’s recommended that you include both your name (or the name of whoever may be managing your account) to add a personal touch and the name of your company to improve brand recognition. 

Then, select “SIGN UP.” 

Select "SIGN UP"
Image source: Reddit

4. The final step of registering your account is to choose which subreddits you want to subscribe to. Don’t worry — you can always subscribe and unsubscribe to subreddits later, so nothing’s being set in stone here. When you’re done, select “FINISH.” 

Select "FINISH"
Image source: Reddit

Getting Started

Once you decide on which subreddits you want to join, don’t promote your products right away — that’s going to rub people the wrong way. Depending on the rules of the subreddit, it could even get your account suspended or banned.

Instead, start by engaging with the subreddit as if you were a normal user. If someone’s asking for opinions, provide yours. If someone posts a question that you happen to know the answer to, you can provide that as well. Eventually, you’ll even understand the memes and other inside jokes (every popular subreddit has them), and then you can join in on the fun. 

Most importantly, post valuable content to the subreddit. How-to guides and expert tips that can’t be found elsewhere are always appreciated. And instead of linking to an outside source, using Reddit’s built-in text editor to create an internal post will make you seem more like part of the group. 

Best Practices

Once you’ve established yourself as a familiar face in a subreddit, don’t get too comfortable. If you suddenly start promoting your products and linking back to your store constantly, you’ll ruin all the goodwill that you’ve worked so hard for.

Other best practices for marketing on Reddit include:

  • Ask Me Anything (AMA): This post format, in which you take questions from users after having your credentials as an expert verified, is especially popular and allows you to attract a lot of attention to your brand. But again, you must be careful about being too promotional. When the actor Woody Harrelson used an AMA post to promote an upcoming film, he was abrasive and refused to answer questions that weren’t about his movie — this upset the community and led to many users vowing to boycott the film.
  • Paid Ads: You can also pay to sponsor your posts so that they’re automatically displayed at the top of the page. To inspire engagement and make the most of this investment, you should customize your ad so that the content is exclusively for Reddit. For example, when Bud Light launched its first paid ad campaign on Reddit (“Internet Heroes of Genius”), the content was filled with Reddit-specific references. 
  • Third-Party Tools: TrackReddit and similar resources make it easy to discover niche subreddits that are relevant to your business and measure the performance of your posts and comments. 

You can promote your store, of course, but you need to do so subtly and sparingly. Work in your links organically — a ratio of 80% standard content to 20% promotional content should keep you out of trouble. 

Like any social platform, you want to engage with people and promote your services, sure — but make sure you provide value.

With these best practices and the rest of the advice in this guide, you have everything you need to create your own successful Reddit marketing campaign.

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Adam Ritchie

Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.