Online communities have become a more powerful global cultural force than ever. But how can brands participate in these conversations? Will Cady, Global Director of KarmaLab, Reddit’s in-house creative strategy agency, looks at how brands can best engage with online communities.
Looking back on 2020, the forces that drove media and culture came from catalysts more so than trends. How can marketers keep pace in such a seemingly unpredictable landscape? One answer is looking into online communities, where tomorrow’s culture is already happening today.
Online Communities, like the 100,000+ found on Reddit, are home to some of the most authentic, passionate and impactful exchanges on the internet, and they represent an immense opportunity for brands to participate in the moments (and movements) these groups inspire.
Around 60% of Reddit users say they’re more likely to trust a brand that participates on Reddit, and 66% say brands can have conversations with them on Reddit that they can’t have anywhere else . While there’s no “right” way for brands to engage with these online spaces, there are considerations worth keeping in mind –after all, online communities are made up of real people, talking about things that matter most to them via conversations they trust.
Be Authentic. Marketers talk a lot about authenticity, but what is authenticity anyway? It’s a word for something ineffable. Authenticity points to whatever people find to be deeply special, and what that is exactly depends on who you ask. Online communities are where people share in their answers. Find a community that shares in yours and your brand’s.
Speak The Language. Language is a gift for understanding online communities, and the words, phrases, symbols, and memes they use are how people find connection. Language is culture. To understand your brand’s place in the culture, learn the language and what it’s expressing. What are the challenges the community faces that you can help solve? What are the goals and ambitions?
Add Value. Eventually, you will find that your brand’s product or services can address a community’s needs. It could be a tool or resource that the community is lacking, or it could be an experience that would surprise and delight. Brands can do things people can’t. This makes brands welcome members of communities who are uniquely able to contribute to the culture in their own way. Lead by adding value.
Stick Around. The best part of tapping into a community’s culture is the dialogue it creates. Want to know how your customers really feel? Talk to them! Engage in a dialogue that shows the human side of who you are. Stick around and hang for a while, and they will do the same for you. When a brand truly builds trust and becomes a part of a community, they have their audience’s support in the best moments and in the hardest. Nothing could be more valuable to a brand than this kind of loyalty, which takes time and effort to build.
These are the steps we walk our partners through at Reddit’s KarmaLab. Our mission is to turn curiosity into understanding, by helping brands understand online communities – regardless of their familiarity with the platform – and helping communities understand brands. The last 12 months have brought about an exciting shift in marketing –consumers are attracted to brands that align with their own individual values, and the need to humanise has never been more important to delivering business results. Trust and authenticity are the cornerstones of community. Dive into Reddit to find yours.
By Will Cady
KarmaLab (Reddit’s in-house creative strategy agency)