Reddit to get sponsored posts, with a few twists

Reddit might not be top-of-mind for social marketers, but the “front page of the internet” is one of the most popular sites on the web and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Amazon gets a full third of its global social traffic from Reddit, and next to Facebook, Reddit was the second biggest driver of Star Wars: Episode VII shopping traffic to the LEGO, eBay and Disney sites.

Soon, marketers looking to tap into Reddit’s popularity will have a new way to do so. Promoted User Posts, which will launch on August 4, will allow marketers to sponsor posts created by Reddit users.

As AdAge’s George Slefo explained:

“That means if someone creates a giant replica of a Taco Bell hot sauce packet, for example, and shares it on Reddit, the restaurant chain could step in and sponsor that post. In turn, Reddit will display it in different parts of its website and target specific users that the brand wants to reach.”

It’s Reddit’s way of capitalizing on brand interest in sponsored content, but doing so in a way that might be more acceptable to Reddit’s user base, which is seen as being much less receptive to marketing than users in other online communities.

Instead of letting brands craft their own sponsored content that is posted to Reddit, Reddit’s Promoted User Posts will essentially let marketers piggyback on the user-generated content that aligns to their brands.

reddit spons

To help marketers identify that content, Reddit will employ a team of “strategists” who scour the community looking for user-generated content that might be a fit for clients, which are said to include brands like Coca-Cola and eBay.

Will users play ball?

There is a potentially big catch to Reddit’s Promoted User Posts: Reddit will ask users for permission before it allows their content to become a Promoted User Post. In exchange for their approval, Reddit will provide those users with a lifetime of Reddit Gold, a $29.99/year membership that provides access to premium features, such as the ability to turn off ads and create custom avatars.

Will that be enough? Reddit users are notoriously geeky, skeptical and internet-savvy, so there’s a real chance many won’t be interested in “selling out” their content for Reddit Gold, especially when many will know that Reddit could be generating revenue significantly higher than the value of that lifetime Reddit Gold membership.

If Reddit can’t convince the users behind its most compelling user-generated content to play ball, Promoted User Posts will obviously be of limited use to marketers.

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