Creating Value Through a Shared Cause and Other CRM Techniques

Reddit’s CRM practices do not apply to the individual user. As noted in a previously, much of Reddit’s success comes from their attitude of non-interference. The company does not reach out to the individual user, thus making traditional CRM a moot point.

What Reddit does do in their approach to CRM is earn the respect of the redditors, thus earning long term loyalty. The site uses its clout and interconnected communities to fight for large-scale, worthwhile causes. One notable cause Reddit recently banded its community together to protect was net neutrality.

Net neutrality is a current Internet freedom that has been in jeopardy many times. To simplify, as it stands now, ISPs cannot charge customers more money for using specific sites. (The sites themselves can charge for their services, but ISPs, like Comcast, cannot add additional fees for accessing certain sites.) While ISPs may charge for the amount of Internet used, generally measured in gigabytes, they cannot charge customers more money based on the sites they are frequenting. While this may seem like common sense, there have been several legislative attacks on net neutrality in the last few years. Often corporate entities use lobbyists to attempt to get bills pushed through that would allow ISPs to charge customers more money when using certain sites, like Netflix.

And to this, Reddit said “Hell No.”

Through massive awareness campaigns and sincere CTAs, Reddit has helped to unify their user-base against attacks on net neutrality. As mentioned here, Reddit does not often reach out to its users. So when it does, users listen. And by waiting for worthwhile causes, Reddit has created long term value for its users while protecting itself as a company. The loss of net neutrality would be negative for both Redditors and Reddit.

According to an article on Managementstudyguide.com, the purpose of CRM is to “ideate strong personal bonding within people. Development of this type of bonding drives the business to new levels of success.” By giving users a platform to come together as a community to speak out against attacks on net neutrality, Reddit has created a tangible value for customers.

Customer service at Reddit, like their CRM, is on the large-scale level. Typically this is achieved through an increased UX. The company continually expands its servers, creating a better overall experience for more users, and this is their largest customer service effort.
Customers also have channels in which to report inappropriate content or to give suggestions, but for the most part, Reddit’s back seat approach keeps the company from directly interacting on the individual level. While this is not a traditional customer service model, it does give the people what they want, and is therefore a great example of their true customer facing practices.

Navigation. Upon first glance, Reddit can appear to be overwhelming. The homepage is sparse on images and heavy on content. The amount of links on the landing page of the site make it quickly apparent how large the site is. Beyond the sheer magnitude of content on the site, though, the consistency of each subreddit makes the site very navigable. Though the content of each subreddit is dramatically different, varying in not only subject but medium as well, the general layout of all 9000 subreddits is very similar.

Reddit follows best practices in terms of the basic page design. The company’s logo is located in the top left corner, and clicking it takes the user back to the home page. There is no left navigation bar, but each subreddit has a similar right navigation. The top navigation is personalized based on the subreddits in which each user has subscribed. Menu categories do not describe their contents, and must be clicked to find more information. Reddit is designed with a shallow and wide navigation, with only three levels- homepage, subreddit page, and posts/comments. While the subreddit name can be confusing, if the wrong subreddit is clicked, one just has to click the back button to get back to the homepage.

Thanks for reading. I hope you all enjoyed it. **Throwaway for obvious reasons.

A whole new advertising world… or is it?

In a perfect world, companies advertise to alert an audience about a product, service or event that could add value to the lives of the audience. The audience is grateful for the communication and the advertising company is rewarded with increased revenue. In the real world, advertising is often an annoying buzz of unnecessary noise adding to the overall hectic nature of our lives. The Internet is no exception. Pop ups, distracting videos and other less-than-stellar practices run rampant all over the World Wide Web. (And this is after regulation, industry standards and Google algorithms designed to keep us on worthwhile sites actually dedicated to content and not just advertising.) Reddit, on the other hand, has passed on massive advertising potential in an attempt at achieving the perfect advertising balance. Yes, advertising is allowed on Reddit. But, due to a perfect storm of factors, advertising has evolved into a different custom on this site. Entire theories are based around advertising on Reddit, (as can be read here and here and here). Normal advertising simply does not work there. Advertisers, like any other users of the site, must follow Reddiquette to see success. By Reddiquette (no I did not coin the term), I mean they must respect their audience and work to engage with them personally. The advertisements must add to the conversation, not distract from them, and they must provide an obvious value. Why the cultural shift? What is the magical concoction of factors coming together? At Reddit, even ads can be down voted and every ad comes with a handy-dandy comment button. Poor or overly aggressive ads quickly create negative reactions on Reddit, and the advertising audience has a platform in which to air their discontent. So what kind of ads work on Reddit? Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.09.04 PM The above screenshot was published by Reddit on their advertising purchasing site. As you can see, they are thought provoking and based around the Reddit audience. As mentioned in previous blog posts, users strongly identify with the Reddit brand and advertising geared toward Redditors sees higher levels of success. Products Reddit is not primarily a market place, though they do have a merchandise store linked to the site for the truly dedicated Redditor. The merchandise available primarily features Reddit’s loveable mascot, Snoo. This is not to say that Reddit is not involved with making money off of Internet commerce. The site has just taken a different approach to it all (at this point, are you even surprised?). Reddit makes money as a marketing affiliate through their gift exchanges. Here’s how it works: Anonymous Redditors sign up for secret-gift exchanges hosted by Reddit. (Yes, perfect strangers buy gifts for one another and mail them around the world for no other reason than it is fun.) Reddit matches up people for the exchange, and then provides special links to large e-commerce sites like Amazon. If people purchase items from those links, Reddit gets a cut. There are usually dozens of gift exchanges happening at once, and this has proven to be somewhat profitable for the company. At least it has proven profitable enough for the CEO of Reddit to name it as one of the site’s three primary sources of revenue. That is affiliate marketing at its finest folks. Communications If you want to learn more about Reddit’s communication style, read last week’s blog post here. Credible News Source As mentioned earlier in this post, there are entire philosophies dedicated to advertising on Reddit. One of links from above, written by Fitz Maro and published on Blog 360i in May of last year, outlines the five most important tips for advertising on Reddit. While I agree with all of them as they pertain to the site, I also think the article is a nod to the roots of advertising as a whole. The five basic steps are to be honest, know your audience, be personable, engage in conversation and reward feedback. If you really think about it, does any of that need to be said? Apparently yes. The Internet has brought advertising back from the mass audience of broadcasting to once again creating a personal conversation. Think of it as going from the Walmart back to the corner store owned by Mom and Pop. For some this may be novel, but all things considered, it really is what people want. This is clearly demonstrated in the content voting and comment sections of Reddit ads. Advertisers once again have the capability of personally reaching their audience, and those who do it with thoughtful respect are being rewarded. On Reddit anyways.

Email?!?

Oddly enough in the technological age, Reddit does not reach out to its users via email. In fact, adding your email is optional when signing up for an account. Crazy, I know.

As discussed last week, all communications from the company to users are done through two major subreddits: /r/blog and /r/announcements. User accounts are automatically subscribed to these subreddits, allowing posts to populate in all users’ newsfeeds.

As far as I can discern, the company communicates as the need arises, and is not on a timed communication flow. There was only one post in /r/blog since last week. Again, this is contrary to the business practices of many companies in the communication-heavy era in which we live. But, by only focusing on message and not schedule, the communications from the company carry weight. By saving announcements for truly newsworthy occasions, when Reddit speaks, users listen.

Anyways, IF Reddit were to reach out to users, I can imagine their communications looking a little something like this:

Subject Line: New Penguin Memes

Dear PenguinMemeLover, (reddit does not ask for names, so it would have to use user names)

Based on your account subscriptions, we get the feeling you enjoy memes with Penguins. As the dedicated provider of content that we are, we felt it our duty to alert you of two new subreddits created that may have penguin memes: /r/iheartpenguins and /r/penguingenuine.

Disclaimer* As a dedicated Redditor, we know that you know that users decide the content on Reddit. If the subreddits that we directed you to do not pertain to penguin memes, or if they have inappropriate or illegal content, just let us know. (hyper link)

Enjoy the endless flow of content and may the karma be ever in your favor!

Sincerely,

The Reddit Team

If Reddit were to send the above email, the success of the email could be judged by web traffic to and subscription rates of the email’s suggested subreddits. They could also monitor the click through rate from the email.

Part of Reddit’s charm is the limited personal information they ask you to provide when setting up an account. Adding an email is optional when signing up. Users that do add an email are rewarded with a virtual trophy for their trophy case. This is yet another fun way Reddit gets users to engage but still remains transparent.

To obtain more emails, the company could ask users to sign up through Facebook accounts, or to invite their email contacts to join (like the LinkedIn model). I don’t see Reddit doing that though, especially since they currently have access to lots and lots of email addresses and don’t do anything with them. I have had an account with this site for nearly three years and have never once gotten an email from the company, nor does it appear that they sold my email.

The lack of direct email communication from my favorite content site has left me on my own to discover new sources for penguin memes. And even in the technologically-driven, communication crazy world, I have somehow survived.

Connecting A Community of 174 Million

The driving force behind the website Reddit is to help people form communities based on specific personal interests. Reddit communities, i.e. subreddits, are built around any topic, from the very general to the hyper-specific. Any user of Reddit, i.e. Redditor, has the ability to create a new subreddit at any time and users tailor their accounts to their personal interests. And, because of Reddit’s dynamic design, those interests are as varied as the 174 million unique visitors the site sees every month.

So how does the Reddit create such an overarching feeling of community?

Redditors are often very enthusiastic brand ambassadors, and not just because users can see their favorite memes about penguins posted by others who love memes about penguins. Much of the company’s success is due to Reddit’s transparency when communicating with their audience. The company regularly gives updates to users through at least two subreddits: /r/blog & /r/announcements. Through these channels, Reddit introduces new employees, gives insight to the inner-workings of the company and promotes different feel-good stories that have happened across the site.

The most recent post on /r/blog announced that 10 percent of all advertising revenue earned in 2014 was going to be donated to the charity of the users’ choice. All Redditors have an equal vote on how the $827,659.49 will be spent.

While this is amazing and awesome, it also makes a whole lot of sense. Reddit is primarily funded through crowdsourcing. The company’s business model is only sustained due to the enthusiastic buy-in it gets from users and that enthusiastic buy-in comes from the feeling of trust created through the company’s transparency.

Reddit’s crowdsourcing business model is simple: Redditors have the ability to acknowledge comments and posts they especially enjoy by buying the person who posted Reddit Gold. This system not only encourages quality content and comments, but it also allows Redditors to support the site in a fun way. Users who have comments and posts “gilded” have access to special areas of the sight, as well as even more valuable bragging rights. The homepage has a very visible bar graph in the bottom right corner that lets users know how close the website is to making their daily funding goal. Again, transparency, transparency, transparency.

Transparency is also key in capturing data. Through the /r/blog & /r/announcement pages, Redditors are encouraged to provide feedback. And this feedback is used to optimize the Reddit experience.  The company listens to the users, because they understand their success comes from Redditors.  The donation of a portion of advertising revenue based on user-feedback is a perfect example of this. Other examples include the changing of default subreddits, and the new and improved training of mods. For Reddit, data capturing is much more qualitative than quantitative.

Reddit has created their brand identity as a quirky, friendly place that welcomes all kinds and listens to everyone. They try to be as upfront as possible, and allow the community to come together to accomplish great things. Many businesses would do well to examine this approach. And many others would do well to check out a few penguin memes.