Digital’s White Whale: Marketing on Reddit

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By Katie Tweedy, Supervisor of Content Marketing + Content Strategy, Collective Measures 

Reddit is infamous for being a marketing graveyard. It is full of buried links from entrepreneurs and marketers that just didn’t “get it.” So how do you “get it” and avoid falling into the trap? It’s all about cultivating relationships, providing value, and being an engaged member of the communities.

With over 52 million daily users (WSJ), Reddit’s advertising potential is tantalizing. Unlike other channels, Reddit offers cheap, low-funnel traffic with a highly engaged audience and wildly specific targeting, all thanks to groups called subreddits.

Reddit content is organized into subreddits, which are standalone communities dedicated to a particular topic, much like special interest clubs. Just how special interest are we talking about? Well, by the end of 2020, there were over 2.5 million subreddits (Metrics for Reddit on Front Page Metrics). For marketers, this makes micro-targeting easier than ever before. The leads qualify themselves by organizing into subreddits for you.


On top of millions of high-quality daily users, there’s often little competition, and marketing on Reddit isn’t expensive. The catch? The members themselves are a prickly bunch with an eye for self-promotion.

Reddit users are notorious for hating marketers and anything remotely branded. Users zealously defend the sanctity of the Reddit community. Because interpersonal relationships are developed based on shared passion, lots of Reddit users have a keen sense of when an outsider’s giving a pitch.

Redditors know how to spot a fake coming from a mile away. And so would you. Think about it. You’re in your Clogging Enthusiasts club forum, filled with friends you’ve known for years, and suddenly someone you’ve never seen before enters the chat and types “hello fellow Cloggers, I’m Terry, I am also a Clogger and boy howdy these Clogs I am wearing are swell, you should buy them…”

Your clogging friends respond, “You’ve never clogged a day in your life, Terry. You’re not fooling anyone.”

To Successfully Leverage Reddit as a Marketing Tactic: Prove Yourself & Play the Long Game.

What if instead of entering the clogging forum and immediately trying to sell clogs, Terry stayed active in the group by simply answering questions with insight and engaging with enthusiasm? Your club may think, “Hey, I’m starting to come around to Terry. Seems like an alright guy I can trust.”

Generating organic traffic from Reddit truly means becoming part of the community. You’ll have to become known in the subreddit. Prove that you’re an active community member by posting quality content with authenticity.

Before engaging in organic advertising, it’s wise to build up ‘karma’, Reddit’s community vote-based points system. These points give you social credibility, help establish you as a genuine community member and build trust. So, what can you do to get a good reputation and earn karma on a subreddit?

  • Provide value: Answer questions with details, data and stories.
  • Don’t start posting your own things right away, engage with others.
  • Ask interesting questions that add to the discussion.
  • Start upvoting other great submissions.

Once you’ve been engaging with the community for a few weeks and have built up some karma and familiarity with the group, you can start slipping in your own organic content.

AMAs, or “Ask Me Anything,” are another great way to be a helpful, active part of the Reddit community. To start an AMA, set a time that you’ll be online to answer community questions. This gives your audience a chance to think of and then ask you about their challenges and concerns. These give you real insight into what your customers are thinking and wanting. But be careful, outsider rules still apply, and AMAs are best received when you’re already an engaged member of the community.

Put to Action

Taco Bell is a great example of how to leverage Reddit as a marketing tactic without feeling spammy. In October 2020, a user posted an epic story on the unofficial Taco Bell subreddit r/LivingMas, all about their trip to find the last Taco Bell selling the Quesalupa.

Fast forward to March 2021, Taco Bell started posting in r/Animation and r/CharacterDesign and r/Composer, looking to use the Reddit community to bring the Quesalupa story to life.

This got them out of the expected subreddits and in front of other communities while remaining true to the Taco Bell brand. Once they made the video with the help of the Reddit community, they hosted an event on the /LivingMas subreddit that garnered roughly 400 engagements and contributed to 50+ conversations.

In addition to the Quesalupa story, Taco Bell posts in related subreddits like /TacoBellOfficial, /LivingMas, and /RandomActsOfTacoBell, actively comment on Taco Bell-related posts in non-Taco Bell specific subreddits, and has hosted AMAs.

Reddit is a long game that not everyone wants to play, and that’s your key advantage and the most tempting feature of this platform.

You will need to put in consistent effort for several weeks (or even months) before seeing results, but when you do, it can be huge because you’ll have gained access to a tough and under-targeted market that competitors have likely failed to capture.

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