What Reddit Can Tell Us About Audience Intent


It calls itself the front page of the Internet. It’s a massive, constantly-churning information mill; a social news site frequented by millions and millions of users. Although it’s been reviled by many, it nevertheless remains among the most popular communities on the web.

I am speaking, of course, about Reddit.  

As a website that’s all about free speech, it’s no surprise that its myriad sub-communities (known as sub-reddits) can often be some of the best places to turn to on the web if you’re looking to find out what your audience is thinking, doing, and buying. Assuming you know where to look, who to listen to, and how to use the platform, Reddit can be one of the most valuable tools in your marketing arsenal – but only if you know how to use it.

When Should You Turn To Reddit?

As with any social network, you could easily say that Reddit is most valuable when its core demographic – young, college-educated. tech-savvy adult males – is the same as your audience, and leave it at that. That statement doesn’t really sit all that well with me, however. That’s like saying there’s no point in sending a survey out to the suburbs because most of your customers live downtown.

There’s always value in learning more about your clientele, particularly if it doesn’t cost you anything but a bit of time.

Now, note that, while I am advocating that everyone at least consider looking on Reddit, I am by no means insisting that everyone should use it. There are going to be organizations, businesses, and bloggers whose audience simply doesn’t use Reddit – meaning they’ll gain very little by watching the community. It’s up to you to determine if you’re among them.

How Should You Use Reddit?

While it’s true that you can easily use Reddit for marketing or self-promotion, that isn’t what we’re discussing in this piece – we’re strictly interested in using the platform as an informational tool. So, with that in mind, how should you go about it? Where can you look to see what people are thinking?

There’s only one question you need to answer: What industry are you in? That’s going to determine what subreddits you’ll want to look at. While there’s certainly a chance that information about you will reach the site’s main page through r/news, it’s a far better policy to see what subreddits are directly related to your field. Create a Reddit account – you don’t need to do any posting – and subscribe to all of them. Be sure to check back frequently, and always pay attention to what people are saying in the comments – often, that’s where the real value lies.

What Can Reddit Tell You?

Alright. So now that you know where to look, there’s just one last thing we need to address – what should you be looking for?

Anything and everything. Look at the topics people are upvoting and discussing. Look at the big controversies in your industry, and look at how people feel about them. Look at the most active users in the community, and check their browsing/posting habits.  Most importantly, look at what they’re saying about the businesses in your field – both yours and your competitors.

From all this seemingly discordant information, you’ll begin to form a more complete picture of who your audience is. You’ll start to understand how they think, how they act, and who they are as people. Most importantly, you’ll be able to figure out what they want – and what they’re looking for.

Of course, you can influence all of this stuff as well – but that’s another topic for another day.

The Power Of The Internet’s Front Page

A lot of the time, when people talk about Reddit, they talk strictly in terms of its power as a promotional tool. The truth is, it’s so much more valuable than that. Used correctly, Reddit can be one of the most valuable market research tools in your arsenal – and all you have to do is browse.


Image credit: Eva Blue