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Analysis

Don’t be the Pinocchio on Reddit

Few marketers have even the faintest clue how to use Reddit, but there's one brand that's killing it on the platform — here's what we learned from them

Adam Fout
February 15 2018

Reddit is a fickle place — but, if you know what you’re doing, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for retention. Reddit was developed in 2005 as media aggregation site, and it still basically fulfills this purpose today — millions of people (mostly men) use the site on a daily basis as their main source of news and information. With over 500 million views a month, you could say it gets some serious traffic.

Now, as an avid peruser of Reddit (I’m mostly lurking), I’ve watched time and again as marketers fail, and fail abysmally, to use Reddit as a marketing tool. Though Reddit does have space for ads, they’re often really poorly done and usually indicate that whoever wrote them didn’t understand Reddit culture and had no clue what they were doing. Redditors are quick to destroy any marketer who uses the platform the wrong way — Woody Harrelson’s infamous AMA comes to mind — so you have to be really careful about any sort of marketing you employ on the site.

I’ll put this as gently as I can: If you don’t understand the culture of Reddit, you need to keep your marketing and retention efforts the heck off until you figure it out. If, however, you take the time to learn the platform and the culture, there are some truly incredible opportunities for customer retention — and honestly, this is where Reddit thrives. Reddit was not built for marketing — marketing is always going to struggle here.

Reddit was built for retention, and boy was it built well. Here’s how to use Reddit for retention, in a nutshell — create a subreddit for your brand or your product and use that subreddit as a way to answer customer questions, to provide assistance, to look for opportunities to make someone’s experience with your product/service better, and, generally speaking, to provide another avenue of customer service.

How Brands Are Using Reddit for Retention

There are plenty of brands on Reddit who are doing this, and my all-time favorite is iBUYPOWER. Now these guys build PCs, and they build a lot of them. They’ve got PCs in a lot of big box stores, and they have a huge sales platform online as well. However, the only people who are going to be familiar with the brand are folks with a special place in their heart for quality PCs, especially gaming PCs. As Reddit is mostly male and mostly young, it only seems reasonable for a purveyor of fine gaming PCs to have a presence on the site.

Now a lot of marketing companies screw up on Reddit by not being upfront. If there’s one thing Reddit absolutely hates, it’s liars… well, corporate shills would be a better way of putting it. If you are a marketer or retention expert who goes on Reddit and acts like you’re not, you’ll get outed eventually, and your brand will suffer serious damage. iBUYPOWER didn’t even try to do this — they have their own subreddit, and they are very upfront about the fact that they have a presence on it.

Let me just give you an example of one of the comments from one of the moderators, who is also an employee of iBUYPOWER. This comment is the epitome of what you should be doing from a retention standpoint on Reddit. It’s honest, it’s helpful, and it’s refreshingly transparent:

“Yeah I work for ibuypower.

Yeah I completely understand. Look around, read reviews, see what laptop you prefer. IF you end up with an ibuypower and ever have any questions, just drop me a PM on here and I can get you to where you need to go.

As far as where to look, I’d recommend ResellerRatings to check out companies, and review sites like anandtech, etc. for reviews of actual products. But quick google searches will point you in the right direction as well.

Good luck!” — iBUYPOWER-Michael (Source)

Now if that’s not solid customer service, I don’t know what is. No hard sells, not trying to push a particular product, no attempts to hide his true identity, just an employee honestly trying to help.

If You’re Helpful and Honest, Reddit Will Reward You

This is, hands down, the best (and really, the only) way to use Reddit for customer service — setting up your own subreddit to help customers when issues arise. And along the way, if you play your cards right, you will earn the right to do a little marketing. Reddit isn’t completely crazy — if you spend 80% of your time helping your customers, answering questions, and assisting with issues, they’re not going to mind too much if you slip a promotion in every now and then, especially if that promotion isn’t sales-y — no clever adspeak, no hype, just a simple post with a simple offer. Here’s another example of iBUYPOWER doing it right:

“Hello customers. Around Black Friday we get a large volume of orders, and along with that a large volume of people asking for order status updates. I will be updating this post with some basic estimates of build times.

It is our intent to be transparent about the process here so that everyone’s expectations are set realistically.” — iBUYPOWER-Brad (Source)

You can read the rest of the post yourself, but it is an absurdly excellent use of Reddit for customer retention. Not only are they doing things exactly the way Reddit likes you to do them (transparently, helpfully), but they’re getting out ahead of customer service problems and complaints at a time of the year when things get hectic and sales can really tank if orders are screwed up. In fact, one user got a little anxious about their order and asked for help, which iBUYPOWER promptly gave.

The user needed their delivery by a specific date and worried that their product might not ship on time because of the Black Friday rush — a reasonable worry. In cases like this, it’s not uncommon for customers to get cold feet and back out of an order, especially when this person could probably go down the street and purchase a similar PC from a big box store for a little more cash. Instead, because iBUYPOWER not only responded quickly and effectively to the query, because they provided a platform where users would feel comfortable and safe asking questions that weren’t emergencies, this user was able to feel reassured about their purchase.

This is retention 101 — and Reddit allows this brand to put it into action basically for free.

Create Your Own Subreddit and Give Your Customers What They Want

At the end of the day, all any customer wants from you is good service — they want to get their questions answered without having to wade through some garbage phone tree, and Reddit allows them to do this in a very public way. This can backfire if you’re not careful — Reddit can be very finicky — but if you answer these questions and complaints honestly, if you do your best to do right by customers and give them the best service you possibly can, and you do so publicly, that’s going to make an impression.

Retention is changing, and the savvy marketer needs to be ahead of the curve. Make your own subreddit for your brand — before some angry redditor with a bone to pick makes a hate subreddit for you. Get in front of this trend, and then check out Ben Jacobson’s in-depth analysis of the trends in retention coming in 2018.

And good luck out there marketer.

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Adam Fout

Adam Fout, resident content and brand sorcerer at BlueSteelSolutions, guides brands through the mystical process of creating website and blog content that enchants customers and entices leads. He also writes fiction in his free time at My Website

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