The Student Podcast Network @ BYU

Quest for Karma-lot: Making the Most Out of Reddit While Minimizing the Worst

Tackling the Reddit space can be a daunting prospect – there’s just so much material and noise, and it can be an unintuitive platform for newcomers to figure out. But mastering this wild blend of pop culture and hobbyism can give you some extremely valuable tools, not just for your podcast but for any project you undertake in the future, whether of personal interest or for school.

Reddit is, at its heart, a discussion-based platform for forums. You’ve probably encountered one forum or another during your time on the internet. They are communities of people with a shared interest who make posts and then make comments on these posts to form a discussion. Most forums also have a set of rules, members both old and new, and a team of volunteer moderators who have a special set of unique administrative powers to enforce those rules.

Reddit takes this social media experience to its extremes. As of March this year, Reddit had 254 million unique users and over a million active “subreddits” (Reddit’s word for individual forums), a testament to the platform’s effectiveness. While I’m no Reddit scientist, in my opinion, the reason it has become such a powerhouse of internet culture is twofold: first, the customizability of the experience it offers to every user, and second, content specialization. You, too, can turn these elements to your benefit!

What to do after you’ve created an account

All Reddit requires is an email address, a unique username, and a password. But what should you do next? The platform doesn’t give you much direction, and this is by design; you are intended to literally create your own Reddit experience. Site admins pride themselves on minimal content curation – most everything you see on Reddit is user-generated content. And there is a ton of it.

Here is a list of things you should do right away:

  1. Jump into your User Settings > Feed Settings and verify that NSFW content is turned off. NSFW means “Not Safe For Work”, which is internet shorthand for adult material. Thankfully, this should be turned off by default, but it is still worth checking!
  2. Go to your Profile page, which you can access with a button in the top-right corner of your screen. You can make a Post directly to this page so that every user who ventures there will see that post. I highly recommend that you populate this page with episodes of your podcast.
  3. Find and subscribe to a selection of subreddits that are of particular interest for your podcast and its prospective audiences! Once you know the name of a subreddit, it’s very easy to navigate to: just type reddit.com/r/_________, and put the subreddit’s name into that blank space. It’s sometimes said that there’s a subreddit for everything, and that just might actually be true. To get a feel for the variety on offer, check out some of these communities: r/breadit, a wholesome community about literal breadbaking; r/latterdaysaints, a community for believing members of the Church; r/askhistorians, a tightly moderated subreddit where laypeople can interact with academic experts in a variety of history fields; r/podcasts, “a place where podcasters can discuss equipment and get info on production techniques, and can discuss promotion with other content creators”; r/fantasy, for readers and fans of the fantasy genre; r/starwars and/or r/lotr, fan communities for the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises; and many more. The potential here is essentially limitless, and if you can dream it up, there’s probably already a community for it. Who knows? If the podcast gets enough listeners, you could even create a dedicated subreddit of your own.
    1. Pro Tip: A fun and useful way to become acquainted with the sort of content a community enjoys and responds to is to sort the subreddit’s posts by Top of All Time. This can be achieved with a couple drop-down menus near the top of the subreddit’s feed. The feed will then show you the most highly upvoted posts in that community’s history.

Now for the long-term goals you should try to achieve.

  1. Begin participating. Make creative posts that are not strictly promotional. Offer positive feedback on posts in their comment sections. Upvote (click on the orange upward arrow to the left of comments and posts) and reply liberally. Redditors respond well to being part of a discussion, and to the positive feedback loop of getting voted up (which adds to your point total, called “karma”). Anything you can do to get people to notice your username, to become accepted as part of the community, and to perhaps even click into your profile. Please note that, like with other social media platforms, building a respected and trusted presence in a subreddit WILL take some time. Do not expect to be trusted or clicked on without any investment of time or effort. Fifteen minutes a day for a few weeks can really achieve a lot with the right community. The key is to be consistent and to participate meaningfully without just blatantly copy + pasting episode links everywhere there is a tangentially related topic.
  2. Vitally, become acquainted with your subreddits’ rules. Redditors can be extremely wary of self-promotional material, or of being marketed to. Communities like r/podcasts or r/fantasy typically have very specific rules for how and when self-promotion can take place. Follow them or you risk getting your account banned by a community moderator.
  3. Learn your communities’ primetimes. Every community has a peak period of activity each day and a peak day of each week. This utility is an excellent tool for analyzing these traffic peaks. To maximize your chances of getting seen and upvoted, follow these trends shamelessly. I have personally had posts and comments receive over 2000 upvotes – which probably means, at minimum, twice that number saw my content.

In general, this should be enough to get you started on Reddit. Some extra tidbits in closing:

  1. Like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, there’s no profanity filter on Reddit. Keep that in mind and feel free to filter any community out of your feed, or block any user, that isn’t contributing to a positive experience for you.
  2. Be mindful of the time sink. This is the number one warning I give to people who are interested in Reddit. It’s an amazing platform and there’s practically limitless info available for hobbyists and enthusiasts on virtually any topic, but it is very easy to get absorbed in the social media content drip cycle. If you find yourself losing productivity due to Reddit, take steps to limit the time you spend there.
  3. Reddit is what you make it! There are some amazing users and I’ve literally made some friends on the platform, but Reddit also plays host to some toxic people and some toxic content. Much like Twitter, Instagram, or even Salt Lake City, you should be mindful of the communities and people you follow, and of where you go. Not everywhere is going to be as wholesome an environment as r/breadit.

Reddit is a platform with awesome potential. Do some poking around and see if it will be useful to you!

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