Reddit: An untapped resource for progressive campaigns in the UK

Reddit is unlike any other social media platform by a long way. It has great potential for campaigning because you can easily escape the echo chamber and reach new audiences — but there are many pitfalls that are often fallen into.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is an unusual Social Media platform

On Reddit, you don’t follow users, but instead join Subreddits, (often large) communities of users interested in the same thing eg

  • Popular — showing you posts from most subreddits, but filtering out NSFW or very controversial (often political posts), and prioritising posts in your country
  • All — showing you posts from all subreddits, not filtering out politics
  • Within these feeds (and within subreddits), you can sort posts:

The unspoken rules of Reddit

Reddit is very hard for companies and organisations to approach, unlike other social media it isn’t geared towards business — in fact, it specifically is geared against this.

  • So don’t use an organisation account — post as an individual, or as a group of individuals, and don’t only post relating to your organisation
  • Engage in a wide range of subreddits and discussions before you start getting too political
  • Don’t post links to the organisation you are working for (eg sharing a petition is a big no-no)
  • Understand that the kind of things you’ll post on Reddit are nothing like what you’ll post on other social medias
  • Never let anyone know you’re marketing something — you’re doing it for fun, not as work!

Can Reddit have a political impact?

Short answer: Yes, it can be great for growing awareness, but it won’t get people completing your actions for you.

Demographics

Reddit is most commonly used by young people — but has a very different demographic than other social media, and can often be people’s primary social media:

No echo chambers

One of the hardest social media challenges for campaigns is breaking out of the echo chamber, but with Reddit, this may not be an issue.

Current UK Politics on Reddit

The top political subreddits are mostly full of US, or non-specific posts. This doesn’t mean you should rule them out entirely — they can be great for posting about international issues like climate change.

Case Study: u/lrlourpresident

An interesting example of political campaigning on Reddit is a user called lrlourpresident

My attempt: cheating the game

In 2019 I wanted to find out if you could cheat Reddit, in an attempt to get a post promoting the 20th September Climate Strike on the front page. I was successful.

Target audience

My target audience was young people who might strike from school — so I chose popular subreddit r/teenagers

  • and the title was controversial
  • no caps

Cheating it

I knew that the post was good, but didn’t think it was good enough to get to the top of a subreddit that never gets political — I had to boost the results as it first went live so it didn’t get lost in “new” — the first few minutes of a post going live will shape its ability to make it to the top

  • One of my friends awarded it with gold very early on — these meaningless awards on Reddit cost actual money (or can be earned by getting awarded) but can be great to catch people’s attention when a post is first live

Results

11.7k upvotes

I am an 18-year-old digital campaigner and web designer. I work to use the power of the internet to help progressive causes — joebrindle.uk

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