Reddit Growth Hacking – Launch & Grow Marketing Case Study
In 2005 Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian founded the social news site Reddit on an admittedly dishonest growth hacking strategy. They used hundreds of fake user accounts in those early days to populate their website. That’s one growth hacking method Reddit used. What about the others?
The high-quality content contained in those first articles set an important tone for the site, however, and kept Reddit from appearing to be a virtual ghost town. It made no sense to launch an empty site based on reading and sharing content.
Self-population was both brilliant and very necessary. Early explorers saw what looked like a thriving amount of activity and were less intimidated about becoming involved themselves.
Reddit works around a community of registered users who can submit content in the form of direct links or text posts. Other registered users vote on the submissions, moving them up and down in rankings on the site. There is a strong emphasis on both quality and accuracy.
As of April 21, 2014, Reddit boasts 114.9 million unique visitors per month from 190 countries. They account for 5.38 billion monthly page views and were responsible for 56 billion page views in all of 2013.
The site has excellent “stickiness,” with an average visit lasting more than 15 minutes. Maintaining and growing user engagement is fundamental to growth hacking, and Reddit does an exceptionally good job in this area. People stay because they’re interested, which further enhances the Reddit reputation and generates spontaneous word of mouth.
The news that users see when they go to Reddit is based on their personal preferences as generated through their history of voting stories up and down. The longer you use Reddit, the better the site understands what you want to read and gives you more tailored content as well as allowing you to see those stories best liked by the Reddit community as a whole.
In October 2006, Condé Nast purchased Reddit, which then passed to its parent company, Advanced Publications, in 2011. In 2008, “subreddits” were incorporated into the user experience, which are entries organized by interest.
They are very like threads in discussion boards and became an instant hit, drawing even more users to the site. One of the most popular of the subreddits is “Ask Me Anything” or “AMAs” for short.
Some of the past AMA participants include President Barack Obama, Madonna, Bill Gates, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, Larry King, Bill Nye, Al Gore, Roger Ebert, and Michael Bolton. President Obama’s AMA brought so many visitors to Reddit in August 2012, many parts of the site crashed.
Built on a simple growth hack — make the site look active and popular — Reddit is now considered something of a growth hacker’s paradise.
Using subreddits to test product fit and to judge the size of a market has become a standard tactic among growth hackers trying out their strategies.
Once a “product market fit” has been discovered, Reddit can then be used for product promotion through an engine like an AMA. This is, however, a double-edged sword. The Reddit community, which began on a lie, now values absolute transparency. If a self-promoter of any kind starts an AMA and refuses to answer hard questions, they are likely to be savaged by the Reddit community.