Reddit: How finance brands can get closer to customers

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Untapped marketing potential
By Darren Thackeray, contributor. 6 June, 2017
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With nearly 270 million global users, Reddit is one of the most popular community forums on the internet. We've previously spoken about the new revenue streams Reddit offers advertisers, and now we've gone direct to Reddit to find out how finance brands can get even closer to consumers in their vast community. 

Reddit has come a long way since its inception in 2005. Once an obscure corner of the internet with a small but dedicated user base, it now has millions of users worldwide that finance brands can freely connect with. Reddit’s forums are divided into ‘subreddits’ like r/banking or r/stockmarket, and there really is a subreddit (or ‘sub’) for everything. Each sub is community moderated, and users can remain entirely anonymous while they post. Posts can be upvoted or downvoted by anyone, which usually sees the most valuable and relevant content rising to the top. Upon visiting Reddit, you’ll be greeted with the ‘front page’, which surfaces the highest rated content of each sub for that particular day.

Redditors talk finance

Reddit has several finance-focused subs that attract more than 6.4 million unique monthly users and upwards of 45 million page views.

The recent boom of entrepreneurs in the UK and further afield has seen Reddit become a hotbed of communication and content sharing. Reddit has several finance-focused subs that attract more than 6.4 million unique monthly users and upwards of 45 million page views. These subs range from r/investing and r/finance, to r/startups and r/accounting. And with brands like Toyota, Lenovo, Amazon and Nissan integrating Reddit into their marketing mix in unique and attention-grabbing ways, it’s time for financial brands to consider doing the same.

We spoke to Reddit’s director of sales, Bryan Rosenblatt, who says,“These brands have run a range of unique campaigns that resonated with users, from simple in-feed ads, to creative writing prompts and calls for user generated content. These campaigns got prospective customers excited and engaged in branded conversations.”

When it comes to marketing on Reddit there are really two paths a business can take – paid advertising or organic community engagement.

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Positioning your brand with promoted posts

In July 2016, Reddit introduced promoted posts, which can be used by brands to target specific communities such as r/finance or r/entrepreneur. What’s particularly interesting about these posts, which rotate at the top of each listing page, is that they also offer the option to target or exclude your ad based on keywords that are prevalent in the thread. For example, if a financial brand doesn’t want to be positioned within a conversation about ‘debt’, Reddit can guarantee that won’t happen.

This gives a lot of control to an advertiser and allows a brand to ensure they are engaging in the right conversations and communities. The unique community-based interactions on Reddit create what they call ‘intimacy at scale’. When advertising, you are able to connect with high-intent users who have explicitly designated their interests and intrinsic values.

As Rosenblatt puts it, “Advertising on Reddit is more akin to speaking to a consumer in their living room. When an advertiser embraces that, finds their customer on Reddit, and speaks authentically, you can foster a connection that is really powerful.”

Organic community engagement

Of course, marketing on Reddit isn’t all about promoted posts and paid advertising. People use Reddit to share and discover information as well as engage in conversation – which means financial brands want to find a way to naturally become part of these conversations. To do this without it seeming like the brand is encroaching on the Reddit community, brands need to be sure they understand exactly who they are communicating with. Most Redditors are curious people and eager to learn new perspectives. Many of them utilise Reddit as a way of expressing opinions or getting authentic advice, such as this UK Redditor who wanted to compare Barclays credit cards before taking a trip abroad. This would be an ideal time for a Barclays representative to step in and offer relevant advice, and their contribution would likely be celebrated and upvoted.

Redditors really value authenticity and appreciate it when brands take the time to understand the communities they’re engaging with. This makes Reddit a valuable and interesting space for finance brands to play, provided they are willing to ditch the corporate language and take on a more personalised tone. The potential result? Direct community engagement that cuts through traditional consumer-finance barriers.

Part of understanding who you’re engaging with is knowing the intricacies of how they communicate and being able to adopt any differences in language. Using Reddit specific terminology like ‘TL;DR’ (too long didn’t read) or ELI5 (explain like I’m five, which has its own sub) can go a long way in helping brands connect and engage with the community. Community engagement is also good where anonymity or pseudonymity is concerned.

Opportunities in pseudonymity?

The element of pseudonymity on Reddit empowers users to be their true selves. This enables them to share sensitive information and discuss issues that they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable with on other platforms. For example, a Redditor may visit the r/PersonalFinance community seeking advice on how to intelligently handle a large sum of money at a young age. They might openly admit to having not told anyone except their immediate family. However, Reddit enables them to source the knowledge of a savvy community of r/PersonalFinance subscribers, which, at the time of writing this article stands at 11,830,881 and growing. It’s here where brands with credibility can really shine, get upvoted and make a difference.

To put this into perspective, a Reddit thread in the r/PersonalFinance sub entitled ’What advice would you give to first-time home buyers?’ received over 1000 upvotes and 845 comments within 24 hours.

Staying on the right side of the Reddit community

Like any established community, Redditors are wary of self-promotion. Overtly promoting yourself or your business outside of a paid advert is likely to attract criticism. The self-moderated nature of Reddit usually sees this type of activity ousted fairly quickly, and the Reddit team will even enforce account bans on brands that cross the line.

Thankfully, they are also open to helping brands who are interested in expanding their reach and engagement through Reddit. As Rosenblatt says, “To help ensure successful brand campaigns, we engage our in-house brand strategy team to research a brand's pre-existing sentiment on Reddit and recommend a strategy for both messaging and targeting.”

It’s clear that in recent months Reddit has focused its attention on growing its advertiser base, and with a booming network of finance-specific subs, there’s definitely an opportunity for financial brands who are willing to put in the time and effort to connect with Redditors on their turf and on their terms.

Image: Reddit

Related Article: How Brands Can Thrive On Reddit

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A graduate of York University and the London School of Journalism, Darren has spent the last decade working with some of the world's biggest marketing agencies. Having had his fill of office life, he now works as a freelance copywriter from his home in Hertfordshire, UK, for big and small brands alike. Hobbies include gaming, jogging and canal side walks with his faithful Jack Russell, Eddie.