Reddit is both an amazing and terrifying website. It is the 58th biggest site on the internet, has amazing communities in specific topics, but companies trying to get visibility on the website run a very real risk of backlash. Backlash recipients range from Google to Woody Harrelson.
My company, MedXT increased traffic to our website 3x, and increased signups for our product 2x from reddit and to date (fingers crossed) haven’t experienced any major backlash or trolling. And we aren’t some sexy gaming or Dogecoin startup, we make boring enterprise medical software, like infrastructure you would use in a hospital or clinic. MedXT is a RIS/PACS a.k.a. an online store for your medical image data.
Here’s how we promoted it:
- Find the right sub (sub-reddit) and start there. We toyed with the idea of approaching big subs, like the /r/medicine sub and posting about our product there. After observing the content on /r/medicine, it was clear that imaging was an occasional need, and that promoting it specifically wouldn’t seem natural. Redditors have very allergic reactions to promotional materials, they think of it as trolling. And if the tool doesn’t really fit, then it won’t be well received.
- Find a scenario where you play a visible but supporting role. MedXT started by going to the /r/radiology subreddit and offered the sub free use of a “DICOM Viewer.” This is a tool that lets medical professionals view diagnostic quality images like X-Rays and CT scans. In this scenario we were enhancing the sub by providing this functionality, but the content, not or our application was the main event. Here are some samples of Reddit posts that use MedXT’s DICOM viewer.
3. Engage and get buy-in from mods (moderators). /r/radiology has two fantastic moderators shadowa4 and pintastico. Their buy-in and support were crucial for the success of the program. They designed the process and criteria for using the tool, and were in charge of governance.
4. Do reddit SSO. Ideally you have content or a tool that doesn’t require authentication, like imgur. But, if you do, enabling redditors to connect easily is very good for engagement. We created an online image archive for the redditors where they store their cases, and it has grown into a resource that that other websites link back to and ask the redditors follow up questions.
5. Respond to inquiries, don’t go dark. The first few days after we launched, there was quite a bit of feedback from the community. We got complaints that the links were too hard to find and share, and that the mobile controls didn’t look right on the embedded iFrame on the mobile app. Fixing these things quickly helped our credibility with the mods, who are your biggest allies in these online communities.
I highly recommend that enterprise software companies do outreach on reddit. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which have more general purpose identity-based communication, reddit has communities that are topical. Even if your enterprise software does not have broad appeal you can probably find a group of redditors who care about it, and their advocacy is very valuable. In a day and age where advertisers go to Twitter or Facebook, buy advertising and try to attract interested parties, Reddit offers the opposite — an engaged and passionate group interested in a topic. For enterprise software, this community makes a lot of sense.