Niche communities: how the Reddit Wild West could be won

With 430 million active users a month, Reddit is fertile territory for brands who are considering a revamp in their marketing strategy.

Saffron Vandenburg

Research and Insights Manager SHARE Creative


One of the strongest weapons for standout in a brand’s arsenal is credibility, for small and large organisations alike. And given the volume of brands seeking to stake their claim in the digital landscape, it comes as no surprise that competition is fierce. As a result, many brands are looking at new and emerging ways to reach both their current audience(s) and conquer new territory, by establishing themselves on seemingly unlikely platforms. Reddit is one such ecosystem. Made up of over 430 million active users a month, Reddit is fertile territory for brands who are considering a revamp in their marketing strategy while remaining conscious of budget.

How do brands cut through the noise and grow their credibility on a platform that doesn’t verify authenticity?

Saffron Vandenburg, Research and Insights Manager, SHARE Creative

With ‘subreddits’ on almost any topic, where users can ask questions, share updates and news or engage in debate, Reddit could be considered one of the most effective channels for marketers. But there’s a catch: no verification. Much like the digital artist Ben Moran who was recently banned by moderators from the subreddit r/Art over allegations of breaking its ‘no AI art rule’, brands face a similar predicament. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, subreddits aren’t verified and instead managed by moderators. So how do brands cut through the noise and grow their credibility on a platform that doesn’t verify authenticity?

To build community in subreddits, it is critical for brands to get the lie of the land and make sure you know who you should engage with. The hyperfocus of subreddits is a clue, as they attract users focused on specific conversations ranging from fans to experts, and even curious amateurs looking to expand their knowledge. While for many Reddit might appear at first glance an impenetrable maze of factions and endless conversation, by immersing yourself into a number of conversations relevant to your brand, marketers can not only discover emerging trends in their field, but equally they can also learn about these user groups and understand how to reach their target audience, actively building affiliations with these groups.

So once you’ve identified your key audiences, now what? Despite being unable to create a verified subreddit that would guarantee immediate credibility, research has shown that 69% of respondents say they respect brands who make the effort to establish a presence on Reddit; meanwhile 66% reveal that Reddit allows them to have a conversation with a brand that they wouldn’t be able to have elsewhere. Yes, the road to growing this presence may be long, but this offers brands the opportunity to move away from stilted comms and hackneyed promotional strategies towards an authentic, community-led dialogue that speaks to the brand’s mission and ethos, in order to reach new, untapped markets. Methods of doing so will of course depend on the brand, but for any marketer dipping their toe into Reddit, this will require an active, consistent presence in your own threads and others’ to draw attention to your specific thread. Once the thread begins to gain traction, promotions such as AMA (Ask Me Anything), which Audi deployed for their ‘Think Faster’ AMA Series, continue to promote your brand whilst keeping to ‘rediquette’.

Finally, while it’s tempting to revert to promotional strategies you might activate on other platforms, authenticity is key to Reddit. It’s an opportunity to get creative, and many brands have led the charge to produce campaigns that have gone viral within the Reddit ecosystem. But where these brands all converge is in their genuine nature. They haven’t chosen an overly-promotional strategy. Instead they engaged with their community in a natural way - they blend in, even where advertising comes into play. This isn’t a case of flying under the radar, but what successful Reddit brand activations have in common is that they all understand the heart of the network: community. Users engage with one another on all sorts of topics, interacting from all corners of the world, and it’s only by truly understanding this nature and functioning of the site in itself that brands will have a chance to succeed, by becoming part of the fold in a network of digital niche communities.

Guest Author

Saffron Vandenburg

Research and Insights Manager SHARE Creative


Saffron is a Research and Insights Manager at SHARE Creative, a global creative agency. Saffron utilises social intelligence to explore and understand social media conversations to help answer critical research questions. From landscape & trend audits to audience and conversation analysis, her team conducts bespoke research to uncover the game-changing insights that answer key business problems & brand challenges. Saffron places high emphasis on research standards, new techniques and efficiencies and works with clients such as Diageo and Microsoft.

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