A Beginner’s Guide To Reddit – The “Front Page Of the Internet”

8 min

Do you use Reddit as part of your marketing strategy? Well, the chances are that you may very well answer yes and no to this question. As a digital marketer, it’s fair to assume that you’re a bit of an internet hound – and, as such, you may answer “yes, I do use Reddit”, however “no, not as part of my online marketing strategy.”

In fact, even if you don’t use Reddit at all – neither for personal nor professional reasons – it’s still very likely that you will have visited the site at some point. Indeed, is an extremely popular information source on the web. It enjoys almost obscene amounts of traffic, and dedicated users of the site are just that – dedicated. Not to mention committed and often evangelical to boot.

Here are some stats to prove it to you:


What Is Reddit?

Ok, so we can see that it’s popular. And anything that’s popular we should really pay heed to, for we are marketing professionals who are always looking for new channels to promote our respective brands, right? Right.

But what is Reddit?

This is a good question, actually, for, as popular as the site is, it nonetheless has a (not wholly unjust) reputation for being complicated and/or difficult, and, as such, this can be (quite naturally) off-putting, especially for newbies.

It’s not like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (well, perhaps it is a bit like Pinterest), Instagram, or any of the other networks that dominate most our time. It is a social network (of sorts), but the “social” side is strictly refined to comments on links that users upload. That is to say that Reddit is most certainly not another Facebook where we post pictures of what we did last night, nor is it another Twitter where we send out our witty quips about the latest trending topic. And neither is it a professional network, like LinkedIn, nor is it a marketing site (like Pinterest, say) where users essentially browse through links deciding what to buy.

No, Reddit is none of these things.

Reddit is an aggregator site. That is to say that on Reddit, users submit links to other sites. As such, some people tend to think of it as a news website – for most of the links that are submitted tend to point towards the latest news articles.

The social aspect comes in through the comments section. Beneath each link, other users can comment on and up-vote content. The hottest stories rise to the top of the page, whilst the ones that aren’t generating much interest sink down.

Essentially, it’s an online bulletin board system. Or, to think of it more proverbially, it’s like the water cooler at the office, or the back of canteen at school – it’s where the cool kids go to decide what’s hot and what’s not in the world of online interactions.

Writing last year, world-renowned social media blogger Neil Patel wrote this about the site:

“The most interesting part of Reddit is that it’s different from the majority of large sites. Most other sites are strictly controlled by a team of moderators or editors. Reddit, on the other hand, is controlled by its users.

I believe that Reddit is the finest example of permission marketing working on a large scale. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, permission marketing was the term coined by Seth Godin several years ago:

‘Permission doesn’t have to be a one-way broadcast medium. The internet means you can treat different people differently, and it demands that you figure out how to let your permission base choose what they hear and in what format.’” 

You can see why, with explanations like that, that some people write the site off as being too complicated from the outset.

But we will not be deterred…

Reddit: The Fundamentals

Ok, let’s break things down into easily digestible chunks so we can see how we’d go about using Reddit for marketing.


In Reddit terms, a subreddit is a topic-based community on Reddit. Each subreddit is simply a place where users (called redditors) can submit and discuss content that is centred on a certain topic – social media marketing, for example. Redditors can subscribe to subreddits that are related to things that they’re interested in to keep up with all the goss.

It’s absolutely imperative that you get to grips with subreddits if want to start marketing on Reddit. Each and every single subreddit is its very own self-contained community, with its own set of rules, redditquette, culture and demographic. That is to say that the wider Reddit usership will probably not have much interest in your brand – and may well indeed become extremely (digitally) vocal if you start trying to market your wares here there and everywhere on the site – there most likely be a specific subreddit where you will be most welcomed by fans who want to hear exactly what you have to say.

Link Posts

Redditors can submit links to a subreddit.

Text/Self Posts

Or they can submit text posts – which are literally just like a blog post. Text posts are often called “self posts” because they link to themselves as opposed to an external web page.


Ok, here’s where Seth Godin’s “permission marketing” really shows itself. Redditors can cast a vote upon every post and comment on Reddit.

Every posts that appears on Reddit is given a score, and redditors can either “upvote” or “downvote” the posts. The score which is displayed is the collective difference between all up and downvotes. This means that if 10 posts are submitted at exactly the same time, they will be ranked in order of which has the better the score – the higher scores appearing above the lower ones on the page.

So, users literally have control over what appears on the front page of Reddit at any given time. But it also means that content creators can get a real-time feel for what type of content is well-received, and what isn’t.



Subreddits really are communities, and each community has its own leader or leaders. These are known as moderators, and take it upon themselves to control the content that gets uploaded to the subreddit. Ideally, they will be trying to maintain the spirit and rules of the subreddit – which, almost invariably, means no promos.

Moderators have the power to remove content and even ban users who don’t fall within the rules – so don’t chance your luck on Reddit, the user base knows what it wants and likes what it likes. However, you are encouraged to “message the moderators” if you have a question as to what type of content they may accept.

Redditquette For Marketers

Ok, there is a redditquette for all users of Reddit, but we just need, for the purposes of this blog at least, to concentrate on what Reddit etiquette (or redditquette) for marketers means. Indeed, this is the most important thing that you will need to understand if you want to maintain a successful marketing presence on Reddit.

Firstly, read the overview on redditquette on the Reddit website itself – this will help you to understand generally the rules regarding behaviour on the site. However, each subreddit has its very own redditquette – so you will need to read these guidelines as well before posting anything (and it won’t hurt to read the redditquette again every once in a while, just to keep yourself refreshed).

Aside from reading up on and adhering to the rules of each subreddit, you will do well to understand from the outset what the Reddit community in general wants and expects from redditors – value.

Yes, they want value to be contributed from each and every active member of a subreddit. And this really means no bullshit. If all you’re going to do is try and sell to other redditors, then you will not be making a valuable contribution to the community or the discussion – so expect to find yourself banned within a matter of days.

And so that really means that, as a marketer, you need to treat Reddit as if it were your blog – only that you do not host it yourself, and you are literally fighting for your chance to be read and recognised amongst many other people who are fighting for the same thing in the same space.

So, think about your blog – what sort of content are you producing for it? If you’re sensible, then you won’t just be peddling your products, you will be adding value to your brand, and giving users lots of extra reasons to visit your website. This means that you will be posting top tips, latest industry news, tutorials, guidelines, opinion pieces and much more besides. In fact, very little of this will be directly related to your business – and you must adopt the same attitude when creating and curating content for Reddit.

Redditors don’t like being sold to – nor even pitched to – they like discussion and opinions. And so, I think the lesson for marketers here can essentially be broken down into three vital points:

1. Be Human

Yes, you are representing your brand, but you are not your brand. You are a real person with real opinions, emotions, funny smells and all the rest. In order to earn the respect of other redditors in a subreddit, you need to be relatable as a human being. Respect the rules and the redditquette, for moderators tend to take no prisoners.

2. Be Accessible

If you decide to go down the Reddit path, then do so wholeheartedly. The voting system means that you can very quickly upset Reddit’s algorithms if you get lots of downvotes for not engaging within a subreddit that you’re supposed to be a part of. So, respond to comments and private messages quickly – especially those comments that have been upvoted by other redditors.

3. Don’t Be Selfish

This is extremely important. If you want to be an active part of a subreddit community, then you need to be consistently involved with other people’s posts as well as your own. Furthermore, don’t just post links to your own blog. Indeed, curate more content than you create – remember it’s all about standing out in the subreddit by adding value to the community, not by just constantly shining a light on what you happen to be doing.

Are you a redditor? How do you use Reddit as part of your marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.

Kerry Butters
Kerry Butters
Kerry is a prolific technology writer, covering a range of subjects from design & development, SEO & social, to corporate tech & gadgets. Co-author of SitePoint's Jump Start HTML5, Kerry also heads up digital content agency markITwrite and is an all-round geek.