Reddit not ‘another social platform’; brands need to ‘show up’ differently

In the crowded social media scene, Reddit is one of the newer players systematically branching into advertising, launching in Australia only a little more than a year ago.

While opportunities lie ahead, Reddit’s global VP of business marketing Timo Pelz told Mumbrella that marketers who treat Reddit as just “another social platform” risk missing out on connecting with communities meaningfully.

Timo Pelz

“Community is a word that’s being thrown around a lot these days, and at the core, a true community environment is something that is just very trustworthy,” he said.

“You can choose to share as much or as little as you want on Reddit, so we don’t have this traditional model that you see on other platforms, where you have a social media influencer, for example, or someone trying to game an algorithm to get exposure.”

Pelz said, in many ways, the community is the influencer on Reddit. Mechanisms like upvote/downvote and mod approval encourage users to contribute meaningfully to conversations, and the platform becomes a trusted environment as added benefits.

“It’s almost like a halo effect when you participate as a brand and show up in this context. People are coming to this place, and there already is a high degree of trust. If you don’t behave like a bull in a china shop, you benefit from that.”

But Redditors have the reputation of being a critical bunch, and Pelz said he occasionally hears about the assumption that they have an aversion to brands being on the platform. Still, he believes that while users will see through shallow sales attempts, they are open to real efforts from brands to understand the audience or address a challenge.

With Talk Shoppe, Reddit recently released a white paper on how users feel about brand interactions on social media. It found that Australian users believe brands can be more authentic and less traditional on Reddit compared to other platforms.

However, this doesn’t mean marketers need to be unconventional for the sake of it. When asked about why brands keep missing the point when it comes to social media participation, producing either ineffective or outright cringeworthy materials, Pelz said the trick is to remember to add value.

“I think that a lot of marketers are losing sight of that, because they’re trying to over-engineer, they’re trying to adjust what they’re doing to a specific context or a very marketing-oriented goal of like: this needs to be viral, or it needs to have like a certain reach.

“When, at the end of the day, all you should care about is at the end of year, did you drive the business forward? Did you meet your business objectives?

“There’s value in just consistently communicating in a way that meets your customer on a level playing field and helps you convey to them how you understand what their issue is.”

AFL Reddit Avatars

Locally, Reddit has partnered with AFL to release custom Avatars, which are saved by 700,000 users globally, as well as live podcast sessions with Betoota Advocate via Reddit Talks ahead of the Australian Federal Election.

In terms of where the local advertising operations are going, Pelz said Reddit is keen to prove its value to local brands and go beyond the consumer experience side of things.

“Stay the course, prove your value, develop relationships, help people understand what is Reddit, why Reddit, why Reddit for my business.

“I think that’s enough for us to, you know, wrap our heads around at this point.”


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