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

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Reddit has morphed from an obscure hangout to one of the most influential sites in the world. It’s had its share of controversy, and many marketers are afraid to even think about using Reddit for marketing—some are afraid of being banned, others are afraid of being associated with the site at all.

It also has 330 million monthly active users.

But if you’re afraid of Reddit, you’re missing out on a lucrative marketing opportunity … assuming you know how to leverage the site. My goal with this blog post is to help marketers better understand what people on Reddit want.

Full disclosure: I’m a Redditor. When I’m on the site, I’m a Redditor first and 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?

According to recent reports, Reddit generates more desktop traffic than Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp: In 2018 Reddit was the third most visited website after YouTube and Google. Even though the numbers don’t include mobile visits, the fact that Reddit is generating this type of volume is a huge sign that marketers should be paying attention to the site. Reddit has always been one of my favorite sites personally, and I’ve considered it a marketing goldmine for years. A couple of 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 look at some of the research I wish I had access to when I first started leveraging Reddit as a marketing channel.

  • Today we’re going to dive into:
  • The content formats that generate the most comments and upvotes
  • The ideal title length when sharing an article or image
  • The best ways to drive conversations on Reddit Which topics and themes work best in different subreddits
  • And much, much more…

To better understand what works on Reddit, we looked at 150 of the most popular subreddits—from Technology and Finance to SEO and Data Visualization—and 30,000 of their most popular posts. We analyzed these different subreddits to gain insight into which types of content people are likely to engage with and which typically fall flat—and how that differs from subreddit to subreddit.

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.

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

Before sharing content on Reddit, you can add a title to your post. Across all subreddits, we found that posts with titles of 60–80 characters consistently generated the most upvotes. Posts with titles longer than 120 characters or shorter than 20 characters performed the poorest. You can see these “rules” in action in this list of the top all-time posts from the /r/news subreddit:

But there are anomalies. In the subreddit /r/worldnews, half 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

On Reddit, there are three forms of reader engagement that marketers can pay attention to—(1) upvotes, (2) clicks and (3) comments. Not surprisingly, different types of content will yield different results.

For example, a title that poses a question is likely to generate nearly two times more comments than a title that’s phrased as a statement.

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

There’s no question what the backbone of Reddit is: External links drive the vast majority of the value. People rely on Reddit to discover new sites, new content and new resources related to their own interests. The community’s upvotes allow Redditors to filter through the noise and browse a curated feed of quality content.

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

Videos Are The Most Highly Upvoted External Links

While links are the most popular type of content on Reddit, it’s important to note that not all external content is created equal. A Reddit post can link to a website, a photo-sharing site (e.g., Imgur) or a video-sharing site (e.g., YouTube). On average, videos generate the most upvotes, followed by images. In fact, the top image and video posts generated over 10,000 more upvotes than links to 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

When we measured frequency AND engagement, we found that the most popular title phrase in the /r/History subreddit is “What are some…” The second most popular phrase was related to a weekly theme in /r/History called “Silly Questions Saturday.”Take a look at the rest of the most common phrases used in the /r/History subreddit:

Key Takeaway:

  • Ask Questions: The /r/History community is filled with people who want to be quizzed and given the chance to share their knowledge. (But they’ve had to make it clear to folks that their subreddit is not for finding someone to help write your 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:

  • Specify Location: People in /r/DataIsBeautiful want content about their location. On Reddit, it’s clear that US-based content generates the most engagement.
  • Health Data: People find data about their health (heart rate & weight loss) interesting
  • Get Personal: A headline that starts with “I created a…” feels more authentic, and it adds a personal touch to your interaction with the community.

New Research & Information Rules Science Subreddits

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

We looked at the top headlines in /r/Futurology and uncovered that what people in this Subreddit want most is technological & human breakthroughs. The three most popular phrases have a theme: “the first time” and “for the first” showed up 10 times as the most popular phrase followed by “a new study” showing up six times. Each of these phrases demonstrates that posts with a lot of engagement in /r/Futurology are about things that happen for the first time.  

We studied four science-related subreddits, and the top phrases suggest that new research and discoveries are the most popular type of content in these communities:

We looked at the top headlines in /r/Futurology and uncovered that what people in this Subreddit want most is technological & human breakthroughs. The three most popular phrases have a theme: “the first time” and “for the first” showed up 10 times as the most popular phrase followed by “a new study” showing up six times. Each of these phrases demonstrates that posts with a lot of engagement in /r/Futurology are about things that happen for the first time.   We studied four science-related subreddits, and the top phrases suggest that new research and discoveries are the most popular type of content in these communities: The key insight here is that when you’re 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 bent are likely to respond positively to new studies and reports.

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.

“If You” Statements Work Best When Providing Life Tips

For subreddits that focus on life advice, we found that “If You” statements work best for attracting upvotes:

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

In the /r/LifeProTips subreddit, you’ll find hundreds of other posts with this format.

Folks in the subreddit /r/LifeHacks are committed to finding shortcuts that make day-to-day life easier. The following chart lists the most popular phrases from headlines in this subreddit and therefore suggests what kind of “life hacks” people are most interested in reading:

Key Takeaways:

  • How To Solve A Problem: The most frequently used phrase is “if you have…” which is usually used to introduce an existing problem before offering a way to make it better. For example: “If you have a kid with a walker, use pool noodles as bumpers to save your walls and ankles” and “If you have a single toast, place it over a knife over a plate to avoid it getting soggy” are both popular life hacks. So if you want to create engaging content for this subreddit, start with a widespread problem that people are looking for solutions to.
  • In every subreddit, there’s likely a TYPE of content that drives upvotes and a FORMAT for titles that generates engagement. Study the most popular posts in your target subreddit to see what works best for this particular audience.

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

Let’s get a little meta here: What about marketing subreddits like /r/BigSEO? What kind of content are the marketers on Reddit looking for?

Here are 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:

In both /r/BigSEO and /r/Marketing people are looking for information about social media marketing and are asking questions about specific marketing and SEO tasks.

Key Takeaways:

  • Questions Drive Engagement: In both /r/Marketing and /r/BigSEO, headlines containing questions produced the most engagement.
  • People Want The Best Things: The word “best” appears a lot. People in these subreddits want to know about the best tools, methods, strategies, and resources to improve their marketing game.

Redditors Want Timely Content

When we analyzed the top posts in /r/Marketing, we noticed another trend: numbers—specifically years. The most common numbers in popular posts were 2017 with 18 occurrences and 2018 with 16 occurrences. After discovering this trend, we decided to look at other subreddits and found the same thing—highly upvoted content containing references to years.

In /r/Art there were 130 occurrences of the year 2017 and 64 of the year 2018. The subreddit /r/Games had 27 occurrences of 2018 and 19 of 2017.

How Do You Reach The Front Page Of Reddit?

The more I researched various subreddits, the more I came to understand the importance of crafting content that is tailored to the individual communities.

For me, the core lessons that came from this research are:

  • Redditors don’t mind being sent off Reddit if the content is good.
  • If you want comments just ask a question.
  • Keep your headlines below 120 characters.
  • Each subreddit has different topics, trends, and ideas that resonate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’ve found to work for Reddit marketing.

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.

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