A Beginner’s Guide to Reddit: How to Get Started & Be Successful

In this Reddit guide, you will learn what Reddit is, why it is such an important social platform, and what makes it different than all the other social platforms.

You will also learn what you need to consider in order to successfully get started on Reddit.

What Exactly Is Reddit?

Reddit is a social media platform, that allows any individual to create and manage their own community, which Reddit calls a sub-reddit.

The entire platform is a social aggregation site, where individuals curate content they either find around the web or create themselves.

They then submit it to their sub-reddit to allow other Reddit users to ability to comment, discuss, and ultimately vote on the content, pushing the most popular content up to the top of the page and moving less popular content down and out of view.

When logged out, Reddit’s front page shows a slightly filtered view of all “safe” communities, organized by most popular from top to bottom.

When logged in, the front page of Reddit shows you all the sub-reddits you have joined, again in order with most popular content from top to bottom.

Now that we have covered what Reddit is, let’s cover some of the key differences you need to understand about Reddit, to have success on the social media giant.

What Makes Reddit Unique?

Put aside for a moment, that Reddit has been responsible for:

  • Shaping the Internet culture as we know it today.
  • Creating many of the memes.
  • Helping pave the way for crowdfunding.
  • Creating the interview format we know today as AMAs.

As marketers, our goal is to get in front of potential customers, with a message that’s compelling enough for them to make a purchase, remember our brand, and potentially tell all their friends and family about us.

Reddit is unique in that of all the social aggregation sites that started this whole social media thing, it is the only one that has survived, continued to grow, and stayed true to its audience.

Not to mention it is one of the only social media sites around today, where people are not simply trying to catch up on friends and family or pass their time in a Starbucks line.

Instead, Redditors are looking to learn, read, and debate all the important issues in their life.

In fact, it is estimated that 32% of all Americans are on Reddit every month, with over 430 million monthly visits and over 30 billion screen views per month. Of that around 82% are English speaking and 60% from the U.S.

Furthermore, Reddit hosts an audience that is pretty evenly split between male and female, with 78% college educated, on average 35 years old, and with a median household income of $92,500 a year.

The audience is so potentially valuable, that the likes of Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Toyota, and a large number of celebrities, influencers, companies, and politicians, can be found regularly participating on Reddit.

However, for anyone to have success on Reddit, it is important to understand what makes Reddit unique and different from all the other social media platforms.

Every Subreddit Has Its Own Rules

Sure there are some basic overall Reddit rules, but these tend to focus on things like don’t hack the site, don’t post people’s personal details, don’t break the law, etc.

However, each individual Subreddit you want to participate in also has its own rules and they are more often than not super unique and specific to the Subreddit.

For example, you may be considering submitting your recent Infographic to /r/dataisbeautiful, which is one of the most popular Subreddits with over 13 million subscribers. However, the rules clearly state ‘no infographics or other unautomated diagrams.’

You have to clearly review and consider a Subreddit’s rules, when determining if you are going to participate in that community.

Not following the Subreddit’s rules will get you quickly banned and there is little to no tolerance for this.

Use a Pseudonym

Just about everyone on Reddit uses a pseudonym, including the founders, the admins (people that work for Reddit directly), and the moderators (the individuals who run the Subreddits).

Unless you are planning to create a branded account, for running ads, managing a profile, or creating your own branded Subreddit, then you should use a pseudonym when creating your username.

That said, even if you make a branded account, I highly recommend you make a second account with a pseudonym to engage and participate in the various communities outside of your branded account.

Don’t worry… Reddit allows you to make multiple accounts, so long as you do not use them to try to game their voting algorithms.

Understanding Reddit’s Algorithm

Reddit uses a combination of upvotes and downvotes, scaled logarithmically, to determine the popularity of content within both Subreddits and the front page of the site.

If you are not familiar with logarithms, think about it like this: The first 10 votes have the same impact on your submission as the following 100 votes do and those 100 votes have the same impact as the next 1000 votes, and so on.

What this means is that your first 110 votes are likely your most important votes and really determine how successful your submission will be.

This does not mean you should try to game the system and force those initial votes.

Reddit is extremely good at detecting this and it will likely get you Silent Banned.

It is important to understand though, so you can put the extra work into making sure your Title / Description is accurate and quality, as well as possibly getting a good comment or two to help the tone of your submission start of positive.

Become a Redditor

I know it may sound like common sense, but seriously take the time to really become a Redditor, so you can understand the platform, its features, and its users.

  • Find the Subreddits you are passionate about so that you can better understand the conversations happening. Become familiar with the intricacies from one Subreddit to another and participate with a sense of authority around the topics and discussions you already understand.
  • Take the time to really understand all the features Reddit has to offer, including settings options and the various sections of your profile.
  • Learn the Reddit language, so when you are engaging in each Subreddit, you sound like you belong. Trust me, there are a lot of Reddit terms and phrases you definitely do not know but should if you want to have success on Reddit. Check out this handy Reddit Lingo Guide.
  • Become familiar with the rules… not only for Reddit itself, but also for each of the specific Subreddits you decide to join or participate within.

Comment, Comment, Comment

Commenting is probably the most important aspect of being a Redditor and fitting into the communities.

In fact, not commenting or replying, can mark you as a spammer if you are not careful.

Take the time to comment on threads in Subreddits you are passionate about and if you really want to hack the comment karma game, check the rising tab for threads on their way to becoming popular on Reddit and comment early.

You Might Be a Spammer If…

Unlike many social platforms, Reddit has an interesting take on what makes someone a spammer and it is not likely what you think.

Here are some of the things that could make you a spammer on Redditor:

  • Submitting your own content is pretty obvious. Note that Reddit has always had a 9:1 rule, where about 10% of your submissions are allowed to be your own content. Also note that you can always submit content to your own Account and any Subreddit you control, without a penalty for breaking the 9:1 rule.
  • If you do not comment or reply to comments on your submissions.
  • Submitting off-topic content to a Subreddit.
  • Submitting too much to a Subreddit, regardless if you own the content or it is high quality.
  • Submitting content that keeps getting downvoted, but you continue to submit it anyhow.
  • Submitting the same content to multiple Subreddits.

The Right Subreddits

Again, it is really important to join a couple of Subreddits that you are really passionate about, but after that, you are likely to start looking for Subreddits that you want to join for marketing purposes.

You want to have success with your content in these Subreddits, so let’s talk about some important elements to consider when picking the right Subreddits.

Find Subreddits Your Content (Or a Competitor) Is Already Performing In

To do this, use the site:domain.com parameter in Reddit’s search.

You will be shown a number of results for content from that domain and you can review the various subreddits to determine where the content has been regularly submitted to.

Once you have identified a few Subreddits, update your search to add in the Subreddit specific parameter; subreddit:nameofsubreddit, to see the selected content that was submitted to just that Subreddit.

Now just click on the content and see that users have interacted positively and then add it to your list of potential Subreddits to join.

For example, if I searched site:searchenginejournal.com, I would notice a lot of submissions in the Technology Subreddit, so I would then update the search to say site:searchenginejournal.com subreddit:technology, to see that domain in the Technology Subreddit only.

Check the Rules in the Sidebar for Each Subreddit

Check the rules in the sidebar for each Subreddit you have identified and make sure that the rules are conducive to the strategy you have in mind.

If you want to submit your URLs, but there is a Subreddit rule against the submission of URLs, then that Subreddit is not right for you.

Identify Up & Coming Subreddits

Consider identifying up and coming Subreddits, with open source tools like RedditMetrics.

Getting in early on an up and coming Subreddit could open doors for your content to be more accepted, as well as the potential for you to become a moderator of that Subreddit.

The Best Content to Submit

Now that you have joined all your ideal Subreddits, both for passion and for marketing, you want to consider what content is going to perform the best in each Subreddit.

  • Click on the TOP tab in each Subreddit, to see all the content that has reached the very top position in that Subreddit. You can filter the time period you want to review, but definitely consider each and every top submission, as it is the content the users in that Subreddit have voted the best at one time or another.
  • Do that site:domain.com parameter in Reddit’s search again, using your own domain and competitors, to review all the content that has performed in the past. Use this as a baseline for content to select or create (and I recommend considering creating content just for Reddit).

Don’t Try to Game Reddit

It is understandable that while participating on a site where the success of your content is based on the number of votes you get, to want to consider a way to improve your chances by getting more votes.

However, I can promise you that in almost all scenarios, the risk of having your domain (and possibly your account) getting banned forever is not worth the short-lived success of gaming your way to the front page (if it even works).

Reddit has always taken a strong hand when it comes to fighting spam or attempts to game the system.

They are willing to ban ten people just to catch the one that might be breaking the rules and they have a number of anti-spam and anti-gaming systems that do a really great job at catching and penalizing you and your content for trying.

There are plenty of opportunities to market on Reddit without trying to game the system, so avoid the temptation and just focus on having success on Reddit the right way!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author