Reddit calls itself the front page of the Internet, and the claim has merit. With over 2.5 billion page views and 34.9 billion unique views a month, Reddit is one of the great powerhouses of the Internet. It’s also fertile — if dangerous — ground for market research.
How Reddit Works
At its heart, Reddit is an enormous bulletin board where users can post almost anything. Each topic in the sprawling forum is divided into smaller subforums or “subreddits.” A popular forum can have over 1 million subscribers and over 100,000 subreddits. For instance, a forum on Mustang parts might include hoods, camshafts and radiators among its subreddits.
Any user can post content in any subreddit. The content is then voted up or down by other users. The most popular posts wind up on Reddit’s home page, possibly the most coveted piece of real estate on the Internet.
The system allows users to reward content for being clever, funny, creative or debate-worthy. As you can expect, the possibility of a front page Reddit post makes marketers drool. Redditors are, however, highly suspicious of any post that appears to sell a product or promote a business, so marketing on the giant forum has to be done with care.
Market Research Nirvana
With hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of highly specialized subreddits, Reddit is a market researcher’s dream. Nowhere else has the potential to give you immediate feedback on your business.
You can’t come straight out and ask about your product. Instead, monitor relevant subreddits for any mention of your product, service or brand. You can ask questions, but you’re best to avoid linking them directly to your company. For instance, instead of asking “what do people think of [your product]” you might ask “which products do you use to perform [a particular task]” or “what’s the best service you’ve used to perform [a task related to your product].”
Remember, Reddit users are anonymous. As such, expect feedback to be honest, sometimes painfully so.
Ask Me Anything
One of Reddit’s more intriguing features is AMA, or Ask Me Anything. Over the years, celebrities, business mavens, politicians and a long list of subject experts have hosted AMA events, where Redditors can, quite literally, ask any question they want.
Again, this offers an exceptional opportunity for market research, but only if you respect Reddit’s unspoken rules about AMA sessions. Starting an AMA to promote products or service is, while not forbidden, considered taboo among Redditors.
Instead, identify yourself as a leader in your field, sit back, and try to answer questions as thoughtfully and honestly as possible. If a question asks about your upcoming products, feel free to answer it, but don’t be overly promotional. If someone has a question about customer service, have the information on-hand to direct them to the right channel for their question’s resolution.
Reddit allows you to take the pulse of the Internet. As long as you don’t abuse the site, you’ll find it a source of sometimes scathing, usually honest and always helpful feedback.