How to use Reddit for digital PR

For those who don’t use it, Reddit can seem like an old-school forum with too much text and too many topics covered. It’s overwhelming. But it’s also one of the most powerful tools digital marketers can get their hands on for free, and the worst part is that it’s woefully underused.

If you are afraid of Reddit or just don’t really use it that much, I’m here to help you make the most of Reddit for your digital PR strategy and outreach.

Why should you use Reddit for digital PR?

Reddit has an average of 430m users each and every month from around the world, hitting a crazy 21bn views each month. Those numbers are pretty wild, but it’s the specificity you are able to implement that makes Reddit so exciting for digital PR. You can research ideas, explore audiences, analyse the competition, become an expert in a niche and find some unique content that you may never have found otherwise. As they say themselves “things are big on Reddit before they are big anywhere else online”.

Who uses Reddit?

Technically ‘everyone’ is a good answer, but according to Reddit’s own stats and various other bits of research, it’s not technically true.

  • 26% of its users are Gen Z (born 1997-2012)
  • Just over half (51%) of its users are American
  • Reddit’s audience is mostly male (figures typically agree on 2/3)

I don’t say this to make you think it’s simply a group of young men shouting at each other (some subreddits are definitely this) but it would be unfair to say it’s perfect. Importantly, there are over 130,000 active communities (subreddits). This is why Reddit is crucial for PRs.

Cheers to Hubspot for a bunch of lovely stats there!

How can you use Reddit as a research tool?

Reddit has subreddits – forums where people discuss one particular topic, niche, industry or person. It varies a lot, but there will be a subreddit relevant to your area, no matter how small. For example, you can find in-depth skincare advice over at /r/skincareaddiction, discover the delights of handwriting and calligraphy at /r/penmanshipporn, or perhaps you really like the backgrounds in animated shows and would like to download them… that’d be /r/backgroundart. You get my point.

How can you find relevant subreddits?

To use Reddit to research your client’s niche, or your own sector if you’re an in-house marketer, you first need to find your relevant subreddits. It will almost certainly not just be one! Fortunately, people have already done the hard work for you. Just Google ‘your niche + subreddits’ and someone will have put a list together for you, or the subreddits will be the top results.

It’s genuinely that simple to get started on researching!

For this example I’m getting my geek on and looking for DC Comics subreddits. The first result is the ‘official’ DC Comics subreddit, the second is a list of subreddits listed as a resource within the general Comics subreddit, with the third being a separate external list of DC Comics related subreddits. Between the three of these you can get your Batman fix and read up on why Zack Snyder’s cut of the Justice League is the most important thing to happen since sliced bread. It’s a fact, I’m not sorry.

One important takeaway here is from the second result. This is an example of where a subreddit has a list of recommended other subreddits in their resources, typically accessed from the sidebar on the subreddit homepage. This will then take you to other related forums and resources.

The subreddit research process

Let’s try this process for a client that sells sofas and we want to see how Reddit can help us. First, a quick Google search:

As we used ‘sofa’ and not ‘couch’ we’re going to be getting UK-focused results hopefully. The Furniture subreddit is first, with the ‘Male Living Space’ subreddit next which has a post from a user asking for more subreddit recommendations. Underneath that you can see other questions users have asked on that specific subreddit, with one recommending their Furniture Restoration subreddit they’ve just created. For the third result we’ve got another subreddit recommendation, this time for Furniture Design, more specific than the former.

That’s the first three subreddits sorted, and the Male Living Space user-generated list will almost certainly help bulk out the subreddit research list. From this initial research you could pull a small list like the following:

This is going to give you an initial look into the industry, but most importantly, what’s relevant to your audience right now. When you look at one of these forums, the subreddit will be automatically sorted by trending posts that have the most upvotes from users. If you sort the subreddit via newest posts first, you will then see exactly that and be ahead of the game for new releases, trends and news in said industry.

/r/BigSEO is a pretty decent community for us search nerds

What makes a good subreddit?

When you are reviewing subreddits you’ll find that some are just not great quality. With so many micro-communities, it’s inevitable that the standard is not going to be equal across the board. When researching subreddits check out the following:

  • When was the most recent post
  • How many upvotes do top posts get compared to other similar subreddits
  • How well moderated are the comments 
  • Are discussions good quality
  • Does it have rules? Are they enforced by the mods? 
  • How many members do they have? How does this compare to the engagement of ‘new’ content?

Immerse yourself in the subreddits

If you take anything away from this blog it’s that you need to be involved in these subreddits. That doesn’t mean just lurking in them. You need an active account that’s commenting and upvoting content and interacting with users, this will build your karma on the site. A higher karma will help you later when you use the audience for market research and ideation. Some subreddits will prevent you from commenting or block your posts if your karma is too low, or your account is too new.

Use subreddits as a focus group

Reddit users are vicious, I’m warning you now. But that’s not such a bad thing. If you’re launching a new digital PR campaign, you could trial it on Reddit first. You can drop it into a relevant subreddit in one of two ways; saying you work for this business and wanted some feedback, or you say you found it online and offer an opinion if you want to try the more anonymous and innocent way. By doing this, you are essentially putting your campaigns out into the open in their infancy though so I’d be careful (or delete the post after you’ve got your feedback), just make sure to build your karma back up. 

Whichever way you go, covert or overt, redditors are going to tear into your content like an angry journalist with a vendetta against you after that one time you got their name wrong twice. You can then take this feedback, improve your content and get it out to the relevant journalists. It’s a free focus group who have knowledge in your sector. Beaut. 

If this user was looking to provide a resource of care cards for plants on their blog, this would be a great way to start a conversation and point users to the resource in the comments.

Mine subreddits for content ideas

Something like BuzzSumo’s question analyser does this already by mining subreddits when you want to find exactly what people are searching for. But you can take more of a manual approach and dig deeper than this. 

Open up your subreddits, see what questions have been asked, look at content that’s getting posted. You will be able to find which sites are being favoured by this group in addition to seeing the obstacles they have through their comments and posts. In our sofa example, maybe the MaleLivingSpace subreddit reveals that blokes are looking at a certain trend this season or they have no clue how to display their games and geekery in their man cave.

Time to make a guide to wood vs leather vs fabric headboards (with free content in the 10 comments)!

In terms of broader SEO, these questions and topics could lead you to make content targeting longtail keywords to drive traffic that way. If people are googling these topics you can guarantee journalists will also want to write about them. Just from mining a subreddit and understanding what users want you can fuel your content strategy knowing it’s what the users and writers want.

How to increase your chance of PR success

The former is one method to get ideas from Reddit, but as you use the platform more you will increase your chance of success for your next link building campaign. By reviewing the most popular content on a niche subreddit you are learning exactly what content your target audience is interested in, and importantly, what they aren’t interested in. 

When skimming through, see which websites their discussions are coming from. You can see exactly which journalists and publications are being read by your exact target audience. Further to that, you can see what topics are generating the most engagement, these can later feed into your ideation process for creative campaigns or help to craft reactive PR content. You can see exactly what is happening in the news for your chosen audience right in front of you inside the subreddit. It doesn’t get more specific than that. 

How to use Reddit to outreach to journalists

Reddit can also be used for journalist outreach, seriously. On your outreach list you need to have at least one relevant subreddit to your content piece. To be extremely honest, it can be a stab in the dark with this, but it’s an opportunity to extend your reach and get your story out there so why would you not take it?

Sticking with the sofas, let’s say your campaign is brand new, you could post a link to it on one of the active subreddits you’ve found and hope it will get engagement. However, I’d ask everyone you know with a Reddit account to upvote it and try to force engagement with the hopes that it leaks onto the front page of that subreddit. When this happens there is a chance that writers of that niche may see this content because journalists do use Reddit for content inspiration, because, like we said earlier: “things are big on Reddit before they are big anywhere else online”.

If your headline is strong enough for journalists, use it on Redditors too. Ask if they agree, they always have an opinion.

The other way you can outreach on Reddit is to wait until you’ve already got coverage. If your campaign gets picked up by House Beautiful for example then you drop that link into a relevant subreddit and comment something designed to get people talking. This will help people share the content, talk about it, and potentially get it in front of the right people. I know for a fact that some Press Association journalists browse Reddit for ideas, it is possible, it makes no sense not to include it in your outreach.

Whichever way you outreach to use Reddit for digital PR, ensure that your comment seems genuine and like you are a key member of their community, otherwise you’ll be kicked out and your post will be lost.

I have no words for this AMA example.

Boost your profile as a thought leader

Ok, so this is definitely more of a longer process, but if you are trying to become a thought leader in a certain niche, Reddit can help. As you know by now, immersing yourself in subreddits is crucial whatever your goal, but here you can use this to gain a certain ‘reputation’.

If you interact with the community you can eventually post about yourself and maybe later down the line do an AMA (Ask Me Anything). An AMA is a Q&A but you can do it with people who speak your key topic’s language. You’ve got to have something interesting to say or a cool story to tell, but it’s not impossible. I could do a whole article on this, but PR Daily has done an excellent guide on how to do an AMA, which is worth your time if this is a future goal.

Reddit might be ugly and some subreddits are certainly full of weirdos, but it’s a haven for ideas and will allow you to get stuck into a topic regardless of your expertise level. Get out there, get some upvotes and rinse Reddit for all its marketing potential.