5 Things You Need to Know About Building a Brand on reddit

  •    Author, entrepreneur and co-founder of reddit.

With over 200 million users a month, reddit is not only one of the largest websites online, it’s also a one-of-a-kind place to build a community and brand online. People all over the world are using reddit as a way to discuss their passions; discover new and exciting things; or simply to connect with other people all over the world.

I’ve written about how I built the brands of reddit, breadpig, and hipmunk, which you can download as an e-book here. My first book, Without Their Permission, hit the bestseller list, chronicles my entrepreneurial journey and how to blaze your own.

Fellow entrepreneurs, here are the 5 things you need to know when it comes to reddit:

1. Remember to be human

When people get online they can start to act differently than real life. Sometimes they turn into the “hustling” version of themselves and became spammy and sales-y. They begin to say what they think they should say instead of what they would really say in real-life. Every other social media platform is built on the idea of “create an account and start sharing something about yourself.”

Who walks into a room and starts talking about themselves?

Conversely, reddit works like a network of thousands of real-life cocktail parties (each subreddit is its own community) and you’ll do best by being a friendly, reasonable person who chimes in when appropriate -- not simply generate noise. Subscribe to a subreddit and get to know the community there, listen (and vote) on other’s discussions, to get a feel for the room before you start commenting.

Be authentic, be human, and treat content-generation on reddit just like you would conversation-generation in real-life.

2. Subscribe to niche subreddits to build your own following

There are subreddits for just about every community online. Some are popular with millions of people, and some are more niche. A great place to start building your own community is to engage with others that relate to you and your niche market. Beef jerky expert? There are people who’d benefit from your knowledge at /r/jerky. You should find them, engage them, and be helpful -- but do not market to them.

Use http://www.reddit.com/reddits/ to search for subreddits and subscribe to the ones that interest you.

It’s also not just about finding these communities, it’s about becoming a good member of the community. Imagine you just moved to a new town, how would you behave? Don’t introduce yourself by pitching them, help them. Respond in the comments with advice you yourself have learned, or submit helpful links any jerky fan would genuinely be interested in.

Get in the habit of engaging a little bit everyday with communities you’re interested in. You’ll learn a lot, because each subreddit is a frontpage for the even larger online community. What hits number one on a community’s frontpage is likely to be trending across the Twitter and Facebook accounts of those community members in the hours or days to come.

Many of these community members are early adopters and could be very helpful as you form your ideas and bring them to life. Plus, you’ll end up learning a lot as you go.

3. Don’t submit your own stuff

If you are a content creator, don’t submit your own content to reddit. Don’t even upvote it (and don’t dare ask people for upvotes).

Instead, obsess over quality content and remember that building a name and community for yourself doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s a lot of great content right now and you have to compete, but focus on quality.

When someone puts your stuff on reddit, it’s a perfect time to chime in with more information in the comments section. Be candid and write, “I’m the author if you have any questions,” or if it’s helpful, respond with links to other content. Remember: act like a person at a cocktail party walking into a discussion about some content you’ve created and be helpful.

Track where your content is submitted using this reddit.com/domain trick
(e.g., http://www.reddit.com/domain/weebly.com)

4. Learn about “reddit gold” and Be Generous

For $3.99 (bitcoin also accepted!) on reddit you can gild someone else in the reddit community. This is a one-of-a-kind way to support a community & the specific redditors therein. When you see someone create great content, write a really thoughtful comment, consider gilding them. This is bigger than just an upvote; you’re rewarding people for creating something awesome and showing everyone you appreciate it.

5. Finally, the one place online popularity doesn’t matter

reddit is the one place online where a random person with a brand new account submits a link that gets them on the frontpage by day’s end and on the Today show the next morning. Users on every other social media platform work to build popularity (collecting followers, subscribers, etc) because unless you reach a certain threshold (or luck into someone influential happening upon your content) it’s very hard to get your content noticed.

Chances are, you’re an entrepreneur looking to build an empire, so get started building an amazing product or service. You’ll never succeed online without making something people want first.

Then, I recommend subscribing to two really strong communities for founders just like you: /r/startups and /r/entrepreneur. These forums are full of great content about bringing ideas to fruition -- just remember everything I told you from the rest of this article. Good luck!