Unfiltered and Unrivaled: Reddit as Your Marketing Strategy Lab

2024 BUZZ Cover Photos - JULY 2024

By Eric Sharpe

The fear and anxiety of being dropped off at a mall by your parents is nothing compared to your first Reddit post. As a brand, you will be judged. It will be public. And it could be painful. But if you can figure out how to walk the walk and talk the talk, then you might just blend in and become the top poster of your Reddit community. Or better yet, you create a branded community that creates a safe space for existing customers and a way to activate net new customer acquisition.

First, a primer on Reddit for those who need to know. Founded in 2005, Reddit is a social news aggregation and discussion website – aka public forum – known for its diverse communities called subreddits. This platform has become a pivotal tool for marketers, especially with recent changes enhancing its marketing potential. They recently went public in March of 2024, after a failed attempt in 2021.

The reason why you should perk up and pay attention is not because Reddit has a semi-decent ad platform, or because they have communities where your brand is definitely being talked about. It’s because earlier in 2024, a mystery AI company partnered with Reddit to help train their AI. That company turned out to be Google. You can see Reddit search results coming up on top of original articles, and it’s taken Google over. Now is your chance to catapult your brand name to the top of mind. If you want to get into the hearts of your customers, I will show you the strategies and some tactics on how to do that.

If you are new, let’s start with some basics:

Step 1: Sign up for an account and a username.

Step 2: Find a community and start reading and learning. If you want a cheat code for finding communities that best fit your brand, try this map of Reddit communities and subreddits.

Step 3: If you use a branded username, be cautious about how you comment or post. If you are being sneaky (like what I do) and you want to inject your brand name into the conversations, then use the 80/20 rule. 80% valuable comments and feedback. 20% inject the brand name or product.

Harnessing Organic Earned and Owned Strategies:

  1. Engage Authentically: Genuine participation in subreddits is crucial. Share stories and insights to build trust with the community. Redditors can and will research your account, and call you out for being fake, or a new user. Build a reputation by commenting. People will “upvote” your comments if they find them interesting, funny, insightful, or in some cases, so raw and dark that it tickles their fancy. If you are using a brand name like u/AdAge (which is sadly not taken by AdAge – shocking to me), there is an expectation you will be a corporate account. In fact, you can use a trademark to kick someone off a username if they stole yours – I did and it felt glorious to flex my ™ muscle for once. I recommend spending a few months learning the ins and outs of Reddit before creating your own community. Users can be harsh on brands, and their criticisms are public, so keep this in mind.
  2. Customer Insights: Tools like Gummy Search help monitor discussions and gather valuable customer feedback, providing insights into customer needs and preferences. They also have their own subreddit finder tool, but since this is a freemium product, I like to offer alternatives. (See the map to Reddit communities.) The key takeaway is to use customer insights to gather everything from sentiment about the industry, products or your specific brand as a whole. See this example about how a user posted how Microsoft makes money, and the top comments are about how LinkedIn is a driving factor.

Leveraging Paid Strategies:

  1. Targeted Ads: Reddit’s ad platform supports creative and engaging display ads. You can run ads in specific communities or target based on keywords. This is where the magic happens. If you are able to find a community that you know is a perfect match for your brand or product, then you should be developing tests around this. If for some reason, you cannot find a large enough community, then focus on keywords. For example, I just tried to find a community for r/underwaterbasketweaving and did not find one, but I did find thousands of references to that keyword. So, you get to insert your ad based on either the relevant community or the keyword. Buyer beware: You may have your ad show up in potentially negative sentiment posts, please make sure you are monitoring your ads if your brand could be subject to this.
  2. Retargeting: Utilize Reddit’s pixel for tracking and retargeting visitors, ensuring your brand remains present in the minds of potential customers.  The amount of Reddit users has exploded since their IPO, and right now, they are clocking in at above 500 million users.

Challenges and Best Practices:

  1. Authenticity Matters: Reddit users value genuine engagement. Avoid blatant advertising to prevent backlash. What I mean by this is that you cannot leave comments that suggest customers try your product. You can and should engage in conversations. For example, ask what other products they have used, or more subtly, ask if they tried using your product, as it’s worked for you or a friend (if your username is not branded)
  2. Active Monitoring: Regularly monitor and respond to brand mentions to manage reputation effectively. If you use one takeaway from this entire article, it is this. Monitor or “lurk” as it’s called in Reddit world. Gain knowledge of how your customers talk about your brand. What words are they using? What insights can you translate back into marketing, sales or even the product or customer service?
  3. Embrace Reddit Culture: Adopt a playful and informal tone. Brands like Wendy’s on Twitter have successfully embraced this approach, which resonates well with the Reddit community. You may notice that the Wendy’s brand chooses not to banter back and forth on Reddit like on Twitter. You need to pick your lane and stick with it. Whatever you do, be aware that if you choose to create a paid ad, you can check an important box that allows users to comment on your ad. If you do so, be prepared to open the floodgates. Choose wisely.

Let’s take a look at a case study from one of my favorite brands (I’m not a customer, just like the brand).

Mint Mobile, once famously owned by Ryan Reynolds, took to Reddit and built its own community r/mintmobile. A few years ago, they created this community as a way to capture and learn from current and future customers. A quick analysis of their community provides strategic value propositions that come straight from their customer’s keyboards. As a marketer, it’s as if the customers are doing your homework for you. Take a look at my breakdown of the analysis of the most recent posts below:

Cost Savings: Many users highlight the significant cost savings with Mint Mobile compared to traditional carriers. For instance, one user mentioned saving over $840 a year by switching their family’s three lines from Verizon to Mint Mobile. This positive sentiment is echoed by multiple users appreciating the affordability of Mint’s plans.

Service Reliability: There are mixed feelings about service reliability. Some users report excellent experiences with reliable service, even when traveling internationally with the “Minternational” plan. Others, however, express frustration with intermittent service and connectivity issues, particularly when using eSIMs or dealing with customer support.

Customer Support: Sentiment towards customer support is varied. Some users have had positive interactions and resolutions with support agents, while others have found the automated systems and initial support responses inadequate, leading to frustration. One post specifically criticized the lack of help in resolving SMS issues.

International Usage: The introduction of the “Minternational” plan has garnered positive feedback, especially from users who frequently travel. This plan allows users to make calls and send texts over Wi-Fi without incurring extra charges, which is a significant improvement over the previous need to load money for international usage.

Data Plans: Opinions on data plans are also mixed. While the unlimited plan is praised for its cost-effectiveness, some users are disappointed with the throttling of speeds to 2G after 35GB of usage, which they find insufficient for their needs.

Now, as a CMO or VP of Marketing, I would take this opportunity to direct feedback internally to the organization and address customer concerns – backed by additional research of course. I have highlighted these strategies and implementations below. If your brand is large enough to get a community like this inside of Reddit, you should be jumping for joy.

1. Highlight Cost Savings in Campaigns

  • Strategy: Emphasize the significant cost savings that users experience when switching to Mint Mobile.
  • Action: Develop marketing materials and campaigns that feature testimonials and case studies of users saving substantial amounts. Use phrases like “Save over $800 a year” prominently.
  • Channels: Utilize social media, email marketing, and our website to share these stories. Consider video testimonials for more impact.

2. Improve Customer Support

  • Strategy: Address the mixed reviews on customer support by enhancing our support system.
  • Action: Implement a robust training program for support staff to handle queries efficiently. Introduce a tiered support system where complex issues can be escalated quickly.
  • Channels: Promote the improved support system through our app, website, and in-app notifications. Highlight positive support interactions in marketing materials.

3. Enhance Service Reliability

  • Strategy: Focus on improving service reliability, especially for eSIM users and those facing connectivity issues.
  • Action: Invest in infrastructure to ensure consistent service quality. Develop detailed guides and support for eSIM setup and troubleshooting.
  • Channels: Communicate these improvements through direct customer communications and public announcements. Use push notifications and newsletters to inform customers about service updates.

4. Promote Minternational Plan

  • Strategy: Leverage the positive feedback on the Minternational plan to attract more international travelers.
  • Action: Create targeted marketing campaigns highlighting the benefits of the Minternational plan, such as no extra charges and seamless international connectivity.
  • Channels: Use digital ads, travel blogs, and partnerships with travel agencies to reach frequent travelers. Highlight user testimonials in these campaigns.

5. Address Data Plan Concerns

  • Strategy: Reassure customers about the value of our data plans while addressing concerns about speed throttling.
  • Action: Clearly communicate the details of the unlimited data plan, including usage limits and throttling policies. Explore options to increase the data cap or offer add-ons for heavy users.
  • Channels: Update the website FAQ and customer communications to explain the data policies transparently. Use social media and customer emails to highlight any improvements or new data options.

6. Leverage Positive Testimonials

  • Strategy: Use positive user reviews and testimonials to build brand trust and credibility.
  • Action: Collect and feature positive reviews from Reddit and other platforms in our marketing materials. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and share their experiences.
  • Channels: Display these testimonials on our website, in ads, and across social media platforms.

Key Metrics to Track:

  • Customer Satisfaction: Use surveys and NPS (Net Promoter Score) to gauge improvements.
  • Support Response Times: Measure and aim to reduce average response and resolution times.
  • Churn Rate: Monitor changes in customer retention rates as support and service reliability improve.
  • Campaign Engagement: Track engagement rates for campaigns highlighting cost savings, Minternational plan, and other key benefits.

The fear of creating your first Reddit post might be too extreme for some, so lurk and learn if you must. Eventually, you need to rip the band-aid off and get on with it. If you master the unique culture on Reddit, it can bring your brand to the highest level, like Mint Mobile with ravenous fans or SEMRush, which explains how to use their product for free and helps customers learn and grow with SEO. With strategic steps from authentic engagement to gathering customer insights, target ads, and retargeting, there are multiple avenues in which brands can confidently navigate and leverage Reddit. Do not settle for reputation management on Reddit when that is merely the first floor of a great marketing strategy.

Raw and unfiltered, the Reddit environment makes the platform a special one for any brand to engage deeply, collect valuable insights, and improve brand visibility. You can unlock the real potential of your marketing strategy if you can integrate Reddit into your earned, owned and paid implementation. If you want to learn more about Reddit or need support while developing your strategy and implementing a solution, please reach out to the author.


About the Author

Eric Sharpe is your go-to resource for all things marketing in real estate and proptech. Eric, a serial entrepreneur and startup mentor, helps venture-backed and Fortune 500 companies launch customer-driven products. When he’s not building out Reddit and LinkedIn strategies, he’s helping kids with STE(a)M education, enjoying ultra-light backpacking, or catching a soccer match.