How to Build a Community on Reddit: Q&A with Clayburn Griffin (@Clayburn)

Reddit is Internet culture. It is everything from a Q&A site to a support group to a porn site. Marketers need to understand it before they engage in spam, which tendsclayburn-griffin-squared to be their first instinct on Reddit. You can read reports and do some research, but immersing yourself in the Reddit community is the best way to “get it”. 

Explains Clayburn Griffin in one of our recent Q&As with SearchDecoder.

Clayburn is an Internet marketing guy with an entrepreneurial mind who enjoys coming up with ways to use technology effectively for business. He is an Organic Search Director at Catalyst (a GroupM company) where he drives SEO strategy for many Fortune 500 clients.  He’s passionate about digital strategy, particularly SEO and its integration with social and traditional marketing.  He’s also an aspiring writer and avid television viewer. You can find him on Twitter at @clayburn.

Why did you you start the BigSEO subreddit (i.e. community) on Reddit?

There was an existing SEO subreddit, but it was unmoderated.  Unfortunately with our industry (and probably marketing in general) there’s a lot of spam and snake oil salesmen.  So, an unmoderated SEO subreddit quickly became mostly useless and yet it was the only place specifically for SEOs on Reddit.  In the vast garbage that accumulated there, I did find a few real and good SEOs that had something to offer.  I didn’t think that was the community we deserved.  So, I set off to build my own.  There was a clear need for it and now /r/bigseo has become an excellent resource for SEOs and “noobs” looking for real, worthwhile SEO advice.

reddit1

In a recent post on iAcquire blog, Yuriy Yaravoy and you argue that SEOs should be on Reddit. Why?

I think it goes beyond just SEOs.  All marketing folk should be on Reddit, but not to spam it which tends to be their first instinct.  There is a lot that Reddit has to offer that is particularly helpful to people in marketing, especially those who work in the world of online marketing.

Reddit is Internet culture.  And I don’t think anyone can be a good marketer without understanding their market.  You can read reports and do some research here and there, but immersing yourself in the community is the best way to “get it”.

It’s also very much the product of this generation.  Change is coming and we’re already seeing drastic effects of it.  It’s apparent in politics, with a progressive President hip to social media.  Television is trying in many ways to figure out how to adapt.  The music industry was caught off guard and soon found ways of coping, though they still haven’t fully recovered.  And Reddit is the easiest place for you to be a part of that change and see it happening and who’s making it happen. Any new sensation or idea will make its way onto Reddit and the community at large will react.  Keep your eye on it or you’ll be like a dinosaur: extinct.

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How is Reddit different from other community sites, such as Quora?

Well, if I can put in a dig at Quora, people use Reddit.  I was impressed with Quora, and I think they did some great things in the beginning.  But it’s really been downhill since.  Activity seems to be plunging.  It’s the same ol’ people commenting and voting on my answers.  And I still waste my time there mostly because it fuels my narcissism.  Even though I’m not an expert at anything I like having a right answer for any topic.

In a more philosophical sense, the big difference likely comes down to anonymity.  On Quora, you’re you.  On Reddit, you can be anonymous if you choose.  That anonymity brings out honesty.  While there are some great answers on Quora, it’s very ego and personality driven.  One of the greatest things about Reddit is that ego and personality matter very little.

And of course Quora is a Q&A site (despite attempts to make it more than that).  Reddit is everything from a Q&A site to a support group to a porn site.  Whatever your needs, chances are there’s a fix for you on Reddit.
 


 

What are beginners dos and donts on Reddit?

Don’t spam.  If you are going to engage in spam, provide value.  There are appropriate places to post links to your own content and if you do then your content better be worthwhile and provide value to the community where you’re posting it.

Do seek out niche subreddits.  You’ll have better luck there.  If you have a question about SEO, for example, nobody on AskReddit is going to care.  If you want to tell someone what you thought about the latest episode of Scandal, /r/self probably won’t respond.  But if you take your post to a relevant subreddit you’ll find a smaller but more appreciative and focused audience.  With the bigger subreddits, you sort of just have to get lucky.

Do take time to get to understand Reddit.  It’s got a lot of in-jokes, and the speed and dynamism of the Internet makes it hard to keep up.  If I go a couple of days without getting on Reddit, I might find some new “thing” going on when I return that I don’t understand.

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Do you have any tips to maximize your efforts on Reddit? What worked for you?

This is a bit broad because it depends on your goals.  Why are you using Reddit?  I would suggest that there are a few goals you haven’t considered, such as keeping on top of pop culture and definitely Internet culture.  It can challenge you and your beliefs. It can help you find and interact with interesting people.  It can teach you about almost any subject.  You have to look at it as more than potential website traffic, which can be hard for us SEOs.

Find the right subreddits.  A good start is this list on stattit.  There’s also a subreddit for finding subreddits!  Making sure you’re in the right place is definitely step #1.

Speak Reddit’s language.  As corny as it is (and maybe because it’s corny) many Redditors like to refer to Reddit in third-person as a collective.  “What does Reddit think of the picture my 84-year old grandma drew on her new iPad?” There are in-jokes you can reference and figures of speech or abbreviations like “tl;dr” (too long; didn’t read) and “afaik” (as far as I know).

grandma-ipad

Provide value.  That’s something that should be true of anything you do when involving others.  When you strike up a conversation with a co-worker, are you just wasting their time or do you have something interesting or important to say?  If you’re going to pay millions for an ad during the Super Bowl, will the audience enjoy it and is your product something they would want?  Sometimes marketers are too focused on what they want from people and forget to think about what they have to offer.  If you can’t answer what value you’re providing, then people will resent you wasting their time.  The Internet, and especially Reddit, is impatient and has a short attention span.

Reddit audience can be ‘brutally’ honest. However, I personally experienced some pretty harsh feedback that was not constructive on the content shared on SEO subreddit. How to respond to negative feedback?

I think it’s important to be open to negative feedback.  You’ll probably get some on Reddit.  It’s almost inevitable.  And sometimes they’re right.  You have to become good at listening and understanding what points are valid.  As an aspiring writer, I often put my stuff out to be critiqued by people.  The responses I get require consideration.  I can’t blindly accept all criticism.  I have to think about what the person is saying, and why.  Maybe they interpreted the piece differently than I meant.  Following their advice might change it in a way I wouldn’t want it changed, but their misinterpretation itself can be insightful.  What can I change to make my point more clear?  You have to apply critical thinking to all criticism.

Then don’t take it personally.  You don’t know who these people are (generally).  Maybe it is just a person who wants to harp on the negatives.  Maybe they’re a “troll”.  Unless there’s overwhelming and almost unanimous negative response, then you’re probably fine.
 


 
In your specific example, I don’t think the community is right for the content.  Any SEO worth their paycheck would already know everything in the post.  That doesn’t mean the content doesn’t provide value, but you have to think about who it provides value to and how.  Then, frame it that way.  For instance, if the title posted to Reddit was something along the lines of “Send your boss this read to get him to buy into SEO and content integration” then maybe it would be better received.  The piece is an excellent argument in favor of what many SEOs already know.  But there’s not a lot of value in preaching to the choir.  In an SEO community, what SEOs usually want is something they can steal ideas from, something they can bookmark and use as a guide, something that will teach them a new method to incorporate in their day-to-day work.

I wrote this big ol’ list of 66 online reputation management tips on my blog.  That has resonated well with SEOs because I’ve told them things they didn’t already know.  Some SEOs probably knew 50 of the 66 tips, and maybe a few even knew 60, but most readers of all levels hopefully walked away with some good advice and new tools to use.  That’s what an SEO community likes to see.

I think saying “make good content” is the wrong mantra for us.  We should be saying “provide value”.  Good content given to the wrong audience doesn’t provide value.  And bad content may never provide value for any audience.  At the end of the day, we have a user doing a search because they want something.  If you’re not that something, then you don’t deserve to rank.  That’s SEO.

I heard you are very knowledgeable on Memes. What’s your favorite?

I love the diversity of image macro memes.  There’s always one you can use as a response to anything.  For instance, I could have answered this question with “One does not simply choose a favorite meme”.  But if I had to choose, I really like Bad Luck Brian because schadenfreude.

never-seen-again

About Matthew Capala

Matthew Capala (@SearchDecoder) is a growth-focused Internet marketer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of SearchDecoder, a place for bootstrap marketing ideas for entrepreneurs, Adj. Professor at NYU, author of "SEO Like I'm 5" and dynamic speaker.

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15 Responses to How to Build a Community on Reddit: Q&A with Clayburn Griffin (@Clayburn)

  1. Dan October 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    I really like the advice on negative feedback. It is a huge bonus in life to be able to take criticism. Even though criticism may not be in the nicest tone, you can still learn from what other people have to say.

    • Matthew Capala November 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Agreed, I learned from this that I need to do more research on the subreddit (i.e. the community on Reddit) before I start sharing content – you get a as much as you give

  2. Dan Kujanek October 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Reddit = the community of communities, its really finding where you fit. Leaving snarky/offensive (trolling) comments isnt going to get you anywhere. I go to reddit with the expectation someone is sharing something that is interesting to them. No one likes a troll.

    One thing I would like to point out is karma. Share karma when necessary! Sharing karma with upvotes and downvotes help reddit become what it is. As mentioned in the article, find your niche interests first. Then surfing reddit will become less intimidating and more of a “wow factor”.Don’t be a non-engaged redditor or “lurker”. These are communities that want you to share, engage and ask questions. Lurking will only lower your experience on reddit.

    Reddit is ever growing and you will be surprised what you can find just by searching.

    My personal favorite creation of reddit is /r/onetruegod (not about religion). This page is the nicolas cage fan page. Redditors love nic cage.

    • Matthew Capala November 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi Dan – thanks for sharing your experience on Reddit. I agree with what you said about karma – I think you cannot take the wrong approach Clayburn discussed (and many marketers fall into this trap, including myself, when they start using Reddit), which is to share your content without engaging in the community – I realized it is like crushing a party you were not necessary invited to :-)

    • Clayburn November 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

      Reddit really has something for everyone. In some cases, it’s better than Google at cataloging the Web.

      If you like /r/onetruegod, then you might like my Chrome extension: http://www.clayburngriffin.com/wikilas-cage

  3. Paul Caudell November 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I’ve been visiting BigSEO since he started it and it’s been a great resource. People are pretty friend (bar the odd one) and post interesting content. I wish more SEOs would use Reddit as a community platform to be honest.

    • Clayburn November 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoy it. It’s really a community effort, though. We’ve got a good bunch of SEOs there and hopefully it’ll continue growing.

  4. Matthew Capala November 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    I agree Paul. I just recently joined BigSEO subreddit, but like it much better than the SEO subreddit because I think there is more spam and egos there, so harder to get a balanced feedback.

  5. Yuriy November 6, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for taking the time and running through this with Clayburn. This is a great article that dissects our original intentions with the IAqcuire piece. Also, thanks for hoping on the AMA!

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