Reddit is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and since its launch, it’s become one of the most dominant social platforms out there. (The site boasts more than 16 billion upvotes, over 36 million user accounts, and more than 850,000 subreddits!) Arguably, one of the more popular subreddits is /r/iAMA. Frequently used by celebrities, Reddit AMAs – “Ask Me Anything” – allow community members to interact with the host through a question-and-answer session.
Brands and marketers should know: This kind of genuine engagement is what consumers are looking for – Gallup’s 2014 State of the Consumer report emphasized by explaining how consumers expect brands to be “authentic,” “responsive,” and “compelling” on social media.
Considering Reddit AMAs rely on all three of these principles, Udemy analyzed the top 50 AMAs from May 22 to June 21, 2015 in its latest online marketing study to determine what made them so engaging and how marketers can implement similar strategies to boost authenticity and brand awareness. Read on to learn how you can use these findings for your brand’s marketing strategy.
Establish trust and authority through honest communication and information unique to your brand
A 2014 study on brand authenticity found that the No. 1 behavior consumers want from brands is “communicating honestly about products and services,” and nearly 90 percent agreed that brands should act with integrity at all times. Udemy’s analysis of the top AMAs reinforced this idea; it found a frequency of uniquely personal information (e.g., “I’m a retired bank robber. AMA!”) and a high level of sincere responses.
Another interesting insight: Most of the top AMAs were from people who designated themselves as authoritative sources. For example, three of the most popular AMAs were from a criminologist and two journalists; the journalists identified themselves as experts on more controversial topics.
Study by Udemy.
From a marketing standpoint, this means that consumers are more responsive to brands that establish themselves as a go-to information source. To put this into practice, marketers should take action with the following:
- Produce content that isn’t watered down and offer raw data when possible.
- Explore ideas that are not often covered (i.e., evoke viral emotions like curiosity and surprise with your data).
- Include authoritative sources, and if you’re using secondary data, make sure it is less than a year old.
Reinforce your brand’s transparency and open communication
An AMA typically starts with hosts offering some information about themselves. Analyzing the words frequently used in these introductions reveals audiences are more interested in hosts who are there for the two-way dialog and not just self-promotion. After taking a closer look at nearly 100 posts, Udemy determined that successful AMA hosts remind their audiences they are there for an open discussion with the popularity of words such as “questions” and “answers.”
The frequency of words like “thanks” also reinforce this idea; gratitude allows hosts to show the Reddit community they value their time, engagement, and sometimes hard-hitting questions.
Study by Udemy.
Brands should practice transparency and openness through their interactions with consumers in all channels of communication. Specific ideas include the following:
- Respond to blog comments and social media posts.
- Provide consumers with a set time frame for receiving inquiry responses and follow through on the promise.
- Ask your consumers what they want to see, and produce content that aligns with their needs.
Mimicking the level of engagement in Reddit AMAs can expand reach by increasing your social following
A bonus to practicing genuine engagement with your consumers? You’ll increase your total number of social followers, which will ultimately expand your brand’s overall reach. Udemy looked at two popular AMA hosts – Snoop Lion and Arnold Schwarzenegger – and determined that their high levels of engagement increased their popularity both on and off the site. Specifically:
- As the moderator of three subreddits, Snoop Lion earned 10 Reddit trophies.
- Schwarzenegger received more than 20 Reddit trophies and earned a mention on the site’s homepage as well.
- Schwarzenegger also earned an additional 9,475 Twitter followers after one of his AMAs.
Study by Udemy.
From a marketing standpoint, an increase in social followers means you’re earning more of the most desired type of consumer: the fully engaged consumer. For your brand, their level of engagement can represent a 23 percent premium in terms of profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.
The biggest takeaway? Consumers expect a high level of engagement from brands.
In order to remain competitive, brands need to constantly reevaluate their online marketing strategies. You want to be sure your approach aligns with the latest trends to maintain effective communication with your audience, and social media is a great channel for marketers to determine what consumers want to see.
The AMA subreddit in particular is great example of the type of genuine engagement your audience is looking for: it balances promotional benefits for brands while also offering participants value through unique content. When outlining your next digital strategy, take a note from Reddit and offer engaging content. This will encourage your existing followers to share, ultimately increasing your reach and authority with potential consumers.
A version of this article originally appeared on The Next Web and has been republished with permission.
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