We Analyzed 60,000+ Reddit Posts From the Top 150 Subreddits (New Research)

Posted by Ross Simmonds 19 October, 2018 2 comments

Reddit has gone from an obscure network to one of the most influential sites in the world. It’s had its share of controversy and has made many marketers afraid to even think about using it as a place to do marketing. Whether it’s the fear of being banned or the fear of association; my goal with this blog post is to help marketers better understand what people on Reddit want.

Full disclosure: I’m a Redditor. I use it as a super fan of the website first and as a marketer second. If you come into Reddit and start spamming the community with garbage content – I hope you get banned and learn your lesson quickly.

Here’s a quick run down on some of my thoughts on how Reddit can and should be used:

Why Should Marketers Be Thinking About Reddit?

Recent reports found that Reddit generates more desktop traffic than Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. In 2018 it was reported that Reddit was the third most visited website only after YouTube and Google. While this doesn’t include mobile visits – the fact that this type of volume is being generated by Reddit is a huge sign that marketers should be paying attention to.

Reddit has always been one of my favorite sites personally and a site that I’ve considered a marketing goldmine professionally for years. A couple years back I interviewed some of the best Reddit marketers in the world, experimented with Reddit aggressively and eventually wrote a book on what I learned about Reddit Marketing. Today we’re going even deeper…

Today we’re going to uncover some of the research that I wish I had when I first started leveraging Reddit as a marketing channel. We’ll dive into:

  1. The types of content formats that generate the most comments & upvotes
  2. The ideal length for a title when sharing an article or image
  3. What type of content performs better between articles & videos
  4. The best ways to drive conversations on Reddit
  5. What topics and themes work best in different subreddits
  6. And much, much more…

To better understand how Reddit can play a role in your digital marketing efforts, we looked at 150 of the most popular subreddits along with over 60,000 of their most popular posts to better understand what works on Reddit.

Using a sample that consisted of the subreddits with the most subscribers, we looked at their top posts to better understand what worked under different categories. Whether it was Technology and Finance or SEO and Data Visualization subreddits; we analyzed these different subreddits to better understand how they differed and what was consistent.

We used this information to gain insight into what types of content people were more likely to engage with and what content typically fell flat.

If you’re looking to leverage Reddit as a part of your marketing mix, this post will help you better understand what type of content you should share, when you should share it and how.

Let’s dive right in…

The Top Reddit Posts Are Under 120 Characters (The Best Are Between 60 and 80 Characters)

When sharing content on Reddit; you have the ability to craft a title before submitting it to a community. Across all subreddits, we found that posts with between 60 and 80 characters were consistently generating the most upvotes by people on Reddit. Titles that were above 120 characters or fewer than 20 characters typically didn’t perform as well as these posts and were less likely to generate the amount of upvotes as content with titles between 40-120 characters.

The following is a list of the top posts of all-time from the /r/news subreddit:

While this is the case in this Subreddit, there’s always anomalies as you can see in the subreddit /r/worldnews where half of the top 10 posts have more than 120 characters.

Key Takeaway For Headlines On Reddit:

  • When in doubt, strive for a title that is fewer than 140 characters and more than 20 characters. It’s this range that appears to be the sweet spot across most subreddits.
  • The best approach to ensure that you’re writing a title that is going to generate upvotes and comments is to review the top 15-20 posts within a subreddit. Once you’ve reviewed the subreddits top posts and their titles; try to identify trends or best practices that you can use when crafting your own Reddit title.

Posts With Questions Drive The Most Comments

Reddit offers marketers three primary benefits in the form of actions being taken by readers; (1) upvotes, (2) clicks and (3) comments. As you think about your Reddit marketing goals; it’s important to understand that different types of content are going to lead to different results. As an example, when you share a post on Reddit with a title that is poised as a question, you’re likely to generate nearly 2x more comments than you would if you shared a post without one.

Posts Without Questions (Statements) Generate More Upvotes

The inverse is true when it comes to generating upvotes for your content across various Subreddits. Posts that are shared on Reddit but do not have a question average more than 1,000 upvotes over posts that do include a question.

Links Are The Most Popular Type Of Content On Reddit

When it comes to the backbone of Reddit, there’s no question that it’s external links that drive the vast majority of the value. People rely on Reddit to uncover new sites, new content and new resources that are specifically related to their own interests. The communities upvotes allow them to filter through the noise and be met with a curated feed of quality content.

On average, the most popular links on Reddit generated more than 16,000 more upvotes than the most popular text based posts.

Videos Are The Most Highly Upvoted External Links

While links on Reddit are the most popular type of content, it’s important to note that not all links are created equal. On Reddit, you have the ability to upload links to websites, links to photo sharing sites (ie. Imgur) and links to video sharing sites (ie. YouTube). On average, the links driving to videos generate the most upvotes followed by images and external domains. In fact, the top image and video posts generated more than 10,000 more upvotes than websites.

What Post Titles & Content Topics Work Best On Reddit?

One of the key insights that I’ve learned about Reddit over the years is how different each Subreddit really is. The etiquette and style of content that does well in one Subreddit isn’t necessarily the type of content that will work well in another. As such, we’ve decided to break down some of the most insightful and interesting title & topic trends related to some of the most popular and interesting Subreddits. We found insights related to the following:

What Are The Most Popular Topics For The /r/History Subreddit

We found that the most popular type of post shared in the /r/History subreddit was content in which someone was asking a question that started with: “What are some”. The second most popular phrase was related to a common theme in /r/History which is “Silly Question Saturday.”

Here’s a list of the most common phrases used in this /r/History that start a post:

Key Takeaway:

  • Ask Questions: The community within /r/History is filled with people who want to be quizzed and provide answers surrounding history. But they’ve had to clarify and make clear to folks that it isn’t a subreddit for finding someone to write a history paper.

The Most Popular Topics For /r/DataIsBeautiful Subreddit

One of my personal favorite subreddits is /r/DataIsBeautiful. It’s a subreddit dedicated to data visualization and information that is then turned into beautiful graphics and animations. The following chart shows the types of content that people are most likely to engage with in these subreddits when it comes to phrases found in the original posts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Location Specific: People in /r/DataIsBeautiful want content about their location. On Reddit, it’s clear that US driven content generates the most amount of engagement.
  • Weight Loss Data: People find data about weight loss interesting
  • Heart Rate Data: People find data about heart rates interesting
  • Personal Creation: Content that is published with the phrase “I created a” offer a more authentic approach to interacting with the community

Most Popular Topics For Futurology Subreddits

Are you looking to get your content in front of an audience that is forward thinking and curious about the future? The Subreddit /r/Futurology is likely the place for you to start.

The two most frequent and popular phrases used when sharing content on /r/Futurology are both about things happening for the first time. The phrases “the first time” and “for the first” showed up 10 times as the most popular phrases followed by the tri-gram: “a new study”:

Key Takeaways:

  • Breaking News: People in /r/Futurology want content that breaks news surrounding things that have happened for the very first time.
  • Insights Backed By Studies: People within /r/Futurology are interested in finding content that showcases what the future will look like based on research & studies.

The Most Popular Title Formats For LifeHacks

The subreddit /r/LifeHacks is a group of people who are committed to finding underrated yet powerful shortcuts that make day to day life easier. The following chart highlights some of the most popular phrases from this subreddit and give insight into the types of Life Hacks that people are most interested in finding on Reddit:

Key Takeaways:

  • How To Use What You’ve Got: The most frequently used phrase is “if you have” which represents the frequency in which life hacks are around using things that you have in your possession to do things more effectively. As an example: If you have a kid with a walker, use pool noodles as bumpers to save your walls and ankles or If you have a single toast, place it over a knife over a plate to avoid it getting soggy are both popular Life Hacks.

What Phrases Are Commonly Used In The /r/BigSEO Subreddit

If you’re reading this it’s likely that you’re a marketer or someone who is interested in striving to drive results from Reddit. In that case, I assume you might also find it interesting to understand how marketing subreddits like /r/BigSEO work and view as valuable types of content.

Here’s some of the most popular phrases in /r/BigSEO that generated high engagement in the form of comments and upvotes:

The following are the most common three words to begin a post on /r/BigSEO that generate a significant amount of engagement:

And here’s the most popular phrases from /r/Marketing:

Consistently across both /r/BigSEO and /r/Marketing there tends to be a trend surrounding people looking for information about “Social Media Marketing” and a consistent trend of people asking questions about specific marketing or SEO tasks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Questions Drive Engagement: Across both /r/Marketing and /r/BigSEO the most common posts with high engagement were those that asked questions of the community.
  • People Want The Best Things: Whether it’s a tool, blog post, resource, course or YouTube video – people in these Subreddits want you to deliver the best things.

People Want You To Deliver Time Relevant Content

Another insight that was found when looking through /r/Marketing was the frequency of finding years in the titles of posts shared. Specifically, the most common upvoted numbers in are years – 2017 with 18 occurrences and 2018 with 16 occurrences. Upon finding this trend, we decided to look at other Subreddits and found that across multiple Subreddits there as a common occurance of highly upvoted content that included references to the year.

In the Subreddit, /r/Art there is 130 occurrences for the year 2017 and 64 for the year 2018. Another example of a Subreddit where years generate a significant amount of upvotes is /r/Games with 27 occurrences for 2018 and 19 for 2017.

New Research & Information Rule Science Subreddits

When looking at a batch of 4 science related subreddits, we looked for trends that showed what type of content was most popular. In science related subreddits there was consistently a trend showing that new research and discoveries were the most popular type of content.

You can see the frequency rates for things like “new research” and “new studies” below:

The key insight here is that when brands are creating content for a science or technical audience; research driven content can be your best friend. It’s clear from these metrics that subreddits with a scientific lens are likely to respond positively to new studies and reports.

“If You” Statements Work Best When Providing Life Tips

For Subreddits that had a more life advice angle, we conducted a similar study and found that when specifically talking about “Life Pro Tips” that “If You” statements work best for upvotes:

A few examples of successful “If You” statements include the following:

Throughout the /r/LifeProTips subreddit you will find hundreds of posts with this format.

Key Takeaway:

  • Each subreddit is different but there’s likely a popular TYPE of content and FORMAT for titles that generate more engagement than other posts. Take the time to study the most popular posts and look for insights that show you what format of titles are more likely to generate engagement and what types of content will drive upvotes.

How Do You Reach The Front Page Of Reddit?

The more I looked at the research around the various subreddits; the more I came to understand the importance of crafting content that is tailored to the individual communities.

The core lesson that came from this research is that (1) Redditors don’t mind being sent off Reddit if the content is good, (2) if you want comments just ask a question, (3) keep your headline character count below 120 characters and (4) remember that each Subreddit has different topics, trends and ideas that resonate more than others.

You can access the entire Reddit Marketing Report today for best practices surrounding Reddit Marketing. The report highlights insights surrounding: the best headlines for subreddits, most viral content formats on Reddit and even the topics that resonate best inside different communities.



Reddit became the “go to” forum for whatever question you need. Also, subreddits are a perfect way to find that niche demographic that a company would market to.


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