At this stage in the evolution of social media, PR pros and communicators are fairly adept at crafting their messages for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They make sure the content is appropriate for the respective channel, add some sizzle to the content with the hope of cutting through the clutter and make sure they don’t run afoul of their brand’s social media guidelines. With a few keystrokes, the message is posted and PR folks start to gauge the responses. But reddit, the social networking site that’s based on so-called “subreddits,” or thousands of online communities focusing on most every subject under the sun, is a different animal when it comes to the social media landscape.
“No one really likes it when [PR] jumps into a conversation,” said Allan Gungormez, director of social media strategy at Transamerica. “But, with reddit, it’s okay if you start a conversations that brings value to the community.”
Asked what the most appropriate way is for PR pros to engage reddit users, Gungormez added, “You either do it the right way or the wrong way. The right way is catering to an audience that considers itself smart and social-media savvy. It’s about finding the right fit within a natural conversation.”
For example, to get its message in front of college students who may be in need of financial services, Transamerica for the last few months has run sponsored content on the “subreddits,” or online communities, specifically geared to college football, including sites devoted to the Alabama Crimson Tide and UConn Huskies. Transamerica’s branded content features a graphic of a “reddit alien,” clad in football gear, which was specifically designed to grab the attention of reddit’s audience and display a “reddit vibe,” Gungormez said.
LIKE TALKING TO A PAL
In a two-week period recently Transamerica’s various sponsorships on reddit garnered more than 100 million impressions, which was 66% more than the company anticipated.
“It’s like shooting the breeze,” Gungormez said, referring to type of communication that reddit fosters. Compared to other social platforms, the content is easier to create “because it’s as if you’re talking to a friend or colleague. It’s natural.”
Other top brands, such as Ford Motor Co., Microsoft Corp. and Samsung, have jumped into the reddit ring. In the last several years, the appeal of the website has soared, growing to an average of 5 billion monthly page views this year, up from 1 billion monthly page views in 2011.
The site boasts more than 81 million monthly users from 180 countries. All those eyeballs are viewing the roughly 14,000 active subreddits focusing on technology, science, gaming, entertainment, news and video, among a boatload of other verticals.
“We’ve added more and more tools for people to connect around their favorite content and create their own communities,” said Victoria Taylor, director of communications at reddit.
Taylor said that in order for PR people to leverage reddit, the most important thing to do initially is listen. She also pointed to how the website distinguishes itself from other social platforms.
“Brands that are mentioned on the site are in a casual context, similar to being in a local bar or coffee shop, rather than a mall, which is much more of a commercial space,” she said.
A ‘HIGH STANDARD’
Reddit, which launched in 2005, now offers several ad options such as ad space adjacent to content on the subreddits; self-serve ads, which target brands with smaller ad budgets, and reddit.tv, a video portal that can feature both video content and custom backgrounds.
Other than sponsorships, PR pros can also join the conversations on subreddits, but sans industry jargon that PR people sometimes fall prey to. They have to keep it loose and go with the flow.
“Everything is up to the users,” said Marta Gossage, community manager at reddit. “A PR person cannot necessarily change the direction of the conversation, but prepare to engage. With reddit you’re held to a very high standard of accountability and transparency.”
Joshua March, founder and CEO of Conversocial, a social media customer-service platform, said he is having sporadic discussions with clients about how they might align their messages with reddit, but many of them are exercising caution.
“You have to accept the fact that you don’t have control [on the site],” he said. “Rather than try to artificially engineer a discussion, it’s looking for organic discussions in which you can participate.”
He added that the site requires a long-term commitment to demonstrate any return. “You can’t engage occasionally and expect to have an impact on PR,” he said. “It’s not something you can start a marketing campaign around.” PRN
Allan Gungormez, firstname.lastname@example.org; Joshua March, email@example.com; Victoria Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Tips On How to Leverage Reddit
Reddit is not your garden-variety social network. The website, which caters to myriad online communities, called “subreddits,” is a bit more personalized than, say, Twitter or Facebook. Victoria Taylor, director of communications for reddit, has a few tips on how PR pros can participate.
• Listen and read. Feel free to search on reddit for key terms related to your clients, then read through what people are saying to get an idea of the sentiment around them. Through this, you can see what people love and what they don’t love, in an anonymous, honest environment. “Redditors” expect transparency and accountability.
• Ask questions. We’re here to help, and want to make sure that you’re reaching out to the appropriate people on the site in the best possible way. In the end, nobody wins if communications go sour, the community is offended and your client walks away with a bad experience. Let us make your lives easier by making it a conversation and not a shot in the dark.
• Enjoy the ride. As you engage on reddit, you are going to find t hat despite (or perhaps because of) its unpredictability—whether it’s setting up an AMA with talent associated with your client, or taking questions on an AskReddit thread about a field you’re familiar with—you and your clients will find it enjoyable, entertaining and ultimately rewarding.