How Brands Can Leverage the Front Page of the Internet

With more than 330 million monthly active users, 138,000+ active subreddit communities, and some of the most passionate and authentic conversations online, Reddit is a goldmine for consumer insight and brand engagement. It’s the internet’s largest collection of communities and has made a name for itself as the home for conversation online, and Zignal is excited to partner with Reddit to help clients better monitor their brand reputation and predict viral behavior. Reddit’s Senior Business Development Manager Noam Cadouri sat down with us for a Q&A session, in the style of Reddit’s own interactive interviews, AMAs (Ask Me Anything).

Q: What is Reddit?

A: Reddit is the world’s largest network of communities with more than 330 million monthly active users and more than 138 thousand active communities dedicated to topics and passions ranging from specific gaming consoles to existential theories. We’re the source of trending topics with billions of monthly page views, hundreds of millions of monthly comments and an incredibly engaged user base.

Users come to Reddit to find community and engage with people around their passion points. They self-select into different communities and choose which conversations to participate in and can be their authentic selves without the fear of judgment – because our users have the option to remain completely anonymous. In fact, you don’t even need to have an email address to sign up as a user on Reddit.

Q: So How Does It Work?

A: Communities can behave like discussion rooms. Rooms have a theme, rules, moderators, etc. People self-select which rooms they want to go into, and there are conversations already taking place in each room. Sometimes, the room is all about discussions relating to fashion and sneakers (r/sneakerheads). Sometimes, a room is about a TV show (r/freefolk, r/songoficeandfire), or developer tools (r/programming). In each case, you have a community of people who are discussing their beliefs, passions and opinions about a brand, product, feature, piece of news, or event. Users upvote and downvote content across the platform to reward quality content and relegate comments that detract from the conversation — and the most upvoted content rises to the top of our mixed feeds (i.e., Front Page).

Q: What makes Reddit unique?

A: We allow our users to keep their identities private, should they choose. We don’t require them to share any personally identifiable information, so the extent of their transparency is completely up to them. We know from 13 years of experience that this allows people to be their true selves online — to join communities that share their passions and interests and engage in conversations authentically. This is a huge benefit to both users and brands looking to connect with them since companies can access consumers’ true beliefs about their brand and products.

Q: How is trending content on Reddit different from those on other social networks?

A: Reddit has two views: your home page and r/popular. Your home page shows you the most popular content from the communities you care about and subscribe to. For example, I like cooking, so in my home feed, I will see the best of r/cooking.

On the other hand, r/Popular will show you the most popular content from all Reddit communities. For example, a trending post in r/cooking might not be popular enough to make it into the r/popular feed. But in the r/popular feed, I will get a pulse on the most sticky content on the internet today, regardless of my subscribed subreddits.

Content in both the home and r/popular feeds rises based on how our users engage with that content — whether they upvote or downvote it. You can think about this like they are balloons: Content that gets a lot of upvotes, comments, and other engagement will inflate the balloon and help push it to the top of the feed. Content that gets lots of downvotes, on the other hand, will deflate and be pulled towards the bottom, which removes the content from the feed.

This community governance is another way in which Reddit is unique: our users and communities have a say in what they think is worth the most attention. Other social media sites have algorithms that control what content you see. Those algorithms can be less “democratic,” meaning they may not be user-driven.

Q: What are the biggest conversation topics and subreddits on the network?

A: With 138 thousand active communities and more than 330 million users, we see everything. People opt into the content they naturally gravitate towards, so it’s really everything from A-Z. You’ll see a lot of fun and cute animal GIFs, news, sports, e-sports, politics, fashion and more.

Brands and Reddit

Q: What is the value of Reddit data to the enterprise?

A: Brand perception is key for marketers to understand their consumers, and Reddit is an invaluable source of targeted consumer insights. The range of communities and passionate conversations make the platform extremely useful for listening to and monitoring industry trends, crisis warning signs and breaking news. Reddit data enables brands to understand what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Brands can have a seat at the table with their most dedicated, vocal, and passionate users.

For example, Netflix has been doing this with a series of shows, including for “Wet Hot American Summer”: they connected with users who were passionate about the 70’s show to promote the remake, and gilded gold if they commented about the new show. (Reddit Gold is a feature on the Reddit platform where users can donate money to put a Gold sign on a comment they like.)

Another example is Audi Think Faster: Analyzing Reddit conversation data helped our team build a layered targeting approach for their campaign. We identified niche communities of sports car enthusiasts to start the branded conversation, and expanded the targeting to larger and larger communities that data proved were connected and relevant. By expanding the conversation at the right time, our data helped connect Audi with fans and communities where their campaign would resonate.

Q: What metrics should enterprises use to measure Reddit data?

A: There are many ways to get value from engaging and monitoring Reddit. Some publishers (like the Huffington Post) find value by using the platform to understand if people trust their brand. In some cases, the answer to questions like these is obvious. Other times, you may want to support your insight by looking at things like words used or sentiment analysis. There are endless ways to extract value from social media, so there are endless permutations to use data to understand impact and value.

There are generic reports that are generally helpful — organic cycle analysis and brand impact analysis are two of the more versatile ones. Organic cycle analysis would involve a post, comment and mention count, identify which subreddits and communities people are engaging on, and analyze sentiments of conversations that can be broken out on a product, brand, or event level. You could also break down the seasonality for long-term analysis, so you can see if organic engagement of your brand is connected with times of the year or certain events.

Brand impact analysis is comparing your baseline organic engagement against events where the company has engaged. Understanding the delta will let you approximate the amount of impact generated by an engaged team.

The best use case is if you have a goal that’s finite and quantifiable. The trick is to understand what set of metrics make sense to look at given your goal. For example: if you’re a social media director and your team’s goal is to improve brand affinity on social, having consistent, recurring reporting on the words people use in connection with your brand and the sentiment comments metrics are critical to unpacking the impact that your team is driving.

Editor’s note: Zignal Labs started offering Reddit data to customers in April and over 80 percent of customers are now integrating Reddit data into their dashboards – looking at metrics such as total mentions by topic, sentiment, share of voice on hot topics and more. This month, we are rolling out three new Reddit-specific widgets including Top Subreddits by Mention, Popular Reddit Posts by Mentions and Popular Reddit Posts by Comments.

Q: Should brands create and curate their own subreddits?

A: Reddit “Profiles” launched about a year and a half ago. Profiles provide spaces for a brand or celebrities to post their content. This space enables a brand to be in their own “room.” We often encourage brands to connect with users across the site in discussions about their products but are aware that this format is different than what the custom on other platforms. So we’re often eager to help and provide guidance. If this is something you’re interested in exploring further, we have a good resource that you can visit. There are also awesome third-party tools that help manage this process.

Some good examples of brands successfully entering conversations on Reddit are:

Reddit and Data Collection

Q: How does Reddit deal with problems like fake news, hate speech, and fake accounts?

A: On Reddit, safety and moderation starts and ends with humans. The lens we take focuses first on ensuring the health and safety of our communities, moderators and users, and extends to the safety of all brands engaging on Reddit. To that end, we first address the health of our community through a system of layered governance: community governance, platform governance and then branded campaign governance. Our Trust & Safety, Anti-Evil and Community teams are on the front lines thinking about and solving these issues every day.

Q: Some social networks are closing off access to anonymized data to third parties — what is Reddit’s stance on the matter?

A: We’re a place where people can be their true selves, learn about the world around them, and be entertained by the content created and shared by our global community. We’re successful because our users trust us to do right by them, and that includes respecting our site philosophies and commitment to user privacy. Those ideals are at the root of our policy and business decisions, including how we make data available.