What does it mean to have the top post on reddit for a few hours?

Yesterday while eating lunch I was watching the previous day’s Colbert Report where Mr. Colbert was interviewing Hugh Laurie, loosely discussing Laurie’s new blues album release.

Colbert made a great crack and it occurred to me that this was one of those things you see portrayed in those tv-scene-screen-cap-with-dialogue-captions all over the internet. I’m an avid redditor and I see them all the time, but never once has it occurred to me to try and create one, probably because it’s usually safe to assume someone’s already beaten you to it, and even if they hadn’t it probably won’t go anywhere.

Despite this, for whatever reason, I skipped back through the video, grabbed some screenies and jotted down their words. This was the result:

(Click to see full size)

I popped it up on imgur (reddit’s darling image hosting site), posted it to reddit.com/r/funny, finished my sandwich and got back to work.

I checked back 20 minutes later and I had a few points on the post (points are determined by the delta between upvotes and downvotes of other redditors). I checked back in another few minutes and the points had doubled. In another moment they had quadrupled.

I’ve seen this before (I’ve had a few popular posts in the past), and I knew at this point it was going to become popular, which is really the goal of putting something inane up on reddit – to feel something you found or made get the attention of hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people. It’s just neat.

To the top with you!

What ended up happening was equal parts meaningless and awesome. Within the hour my post was the absolute top post on reddit.

v6OTBrf

At its peak the post had over 5,700 points, which would have made it one of the top 200 posts of all time to reddit.

It’s hard to explain the intrigue of fake internet points (called Karma) to a non-redditor, and to be sure there is absolutely no real-world value to these points, but most people can appreciate the idea of putting something out there, and it getting seen by the world.

…which is really the goal of putting something inane up on reddit – to feel something you found or made get the attention of hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people. It’s just neat.

Today, after the dust settled, the post has 2,509 points from 49,481 upvotes and 46,986 downvotes (thanks, downvoters – pfft), and has acquired 1,342 comments.

Imgur reports 1.2 million or so views on the image and is showing it atop it’s list of “the most viral images of yesterday, sorted by popularity.”

imgur the simple image sharer - Google Chrome_2013-08-07_16-42-51So that’s cool. I made a ripple on the internet. This is where I’d scratch that off my bucket list – if I had one.

What makes a hit?

One part ingredients, two parts luck. Sometimes great content flops and crap content wins, but most of the time you can do a few simple things to get the most out of your post.

  • Be a redditor (this is the hardest part, but being part of the community is really the only good way to understand what makes reddit tick)
  • Post something good (if you’re unsure if something’s good, you’ll find out right quick)
  • Post during the work day-ish
  • Use catchy, if not cynical titles (and double check your grammar)
  • Post to the proper subreddit, and follow its rules
  • Images are the most successful type of media in the large subreddits (r/funny, r/pics, r/wtf…)
  • Use imgur.com to host images
  • Avoid obvious self-promotion (or in most cases avoid any self-promotion at all)

So what did this do for me?

Nothing, really. I suppose as an internet marketer that topping “the front page of the internet”, as reddit refers to itself, is a feather in my cap.

550x336px-LL-93d4d87c_South-Park-nice

It was also mildly exciting… and I got to brag to my fellow reditting co-worker for the afternoon… My girlfriend thought it was sexy…

I’m pushing it now, aren’t I.

  • So it’s an internet site, yes, but Reddit is used by 6% of the American adult population. More than Readers Digest, National Geographic, People, Oprah, etc. Imagine getting an article in one of those and then imagine that Reddit hits more people.

  • Congrats! As a fellow marketer, I would now ask, how can you use this experience in other channels to help your clients with exposure? That’s the nut we have to try and crack all day (and night) long…

    • I’ve actually used reddit a number of times quite successfully to get exposure on certain things. I’m planning to write about this in the future, but the trick is to simply BE a redditor. Just use reddit like anyone else; post stuff, comment on stuff, vote, etc., and when you happen to create a piece of original content that you think a certain subreddit would be interested in – post it there!

      Just don’t post every sucky blog post or photo you take, and keep your self-promotion to other stuff ratio leaning heavily in the ‘other stuff’ direction.