Using Reddit to Test Your Marketing Strategy
April 4, 2015
I’m sure most of us out there with a computer and an internet connection are familiar with Reddit. Essentially a grown-up version of the bulletin boards of yesteryear, Reddit has quickly risen to be one of the most popular social networking and news sites on the web. Many a meme has been birthed on Reddit and opinions are espoused in subreddits fervently and passionately.
It all started somewhat innocently as a way to share my client’s website and the product they offer. For the purposes of this blog–and because I’m fast approaching middle age–let’s say the product my client is selling is a product to treat hair loss for men.
Also, for the purposes of this blog, let’s say the hair loss treatment my client offers is a bit different than other products on the market and therefore less proven to consumers. The price for this hypothetical hair growth system is $200. Sales of said product have been minimal and we’re not quite sure why.
First things first, I found the appropriate Reddit thread for male baldness in order to reach my target audience. Then, in trying to find a way to share my client’s site in a non-artificial way, I took a more interactive approach–I posed a question. This is a technique I learned from doing social media updates. Posts that ask questions of the audience tend to have a higher level of engagement. My post looked something like this:
I honestly didn’t think much of it at the time and I moved on to other projects. However, out of curiosity, I checked on the post a few days later and found that I had several responses to my original post.
After reading the comment, I logged into Google Analytics and under Referral Traffic, I noticed that my client’s website had received about 20 visits from my initial Reddit post. Cool! I was surprised to learn how helpful Reddit users are in answering questions. This particular user actually went to the website and watched the videos in order to have a more informed opinion in answering my question. Most importantly, this comment and other comments like it confirm one of my suspicions–that my client’s product is too expensive.
Let’s move on to another hypothetical comment:
Ouch! These Reddit commentators don’t pull any punches. That said, the truth hurts sometimes. It might not be a pleasant conversation with my client but the site may be in need of a redesign in order to build trust with potential customers. Based on these comments, I now have some ideas on how to improve my client’s campaign, which may include lowering the price of the product and redesigning the website.
These are just some hypothetical responses but really the possibilities are endless. Reddit users can offer invaluable insight into strengths and weaknesses with your product, service, website, marketing strategy, etc. By finding the right subreddit, you have a direct line to your target audience and their unfiltered opinion. Furthermore, I encourage that you chime in as well, beyond the initial post, in order to a) keep the discussion going and b) extract more opinions and information.
I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t include some caveats:
1) Take Reddit comments with a grain of salt – There’s something known as “online disinhibition effect”, which in essence means that people act differently on the internet than in face-to-face interactions. In other words, under the guise of anonymity, people are more prone to comment negatively on the web. Look at these comments with a critical eye, as one negative comment early on in a thread can set the tone, as people can feed off of each other’s negativity.
2) Strength in numbers – If only one commentator points out a weakness with your marketing, I wouldn’t immediately go and your adjust your strategy. However, if multiple commentators are saying the same thing, it might have some weight.
3) Ethical considerations – My hypothetical comment implies that I am looking for hair growth products, which in reality, is not the case. I don’t advise being deceptive, as I think that white-hat practices should extend into every aspect of marketing, not just SEO. I was merely using this as a jumping-off point. A better, more ethical way to start a Reddit thread might just be something as simple as “what’s your opinion on this product/website: ________?” If you’re trying to solicit honest opinions, it behooves you to set the tone by being honest yourself.
I’d be curious to know how this technique works for other marketers and if anyone out there has found some other benefits in posting on Reddit. Feel free to comment!