As of June 2018, Reddit surpassed Facebook to become the US’s most-visited social media platform.
And it’s the US’s third-most-visited overall after Google (no.1) and YouTube (no.2) and ahead of Facebook (no.4) and Amazon (no.5).
Furthermore, Reddit users on average spend twice as long on Reddit (more than 15 minutes) as on the others.
It’s also the “go-to forum of the channel” and the no.1 community forum for managed service providers (MSPs) worldwide, according to a study by Datto.
There is significant overlap between channel professionals and MSPs, and the demographics are generally similar between them.
Some of you reading will be very familiar with Reddit; some may even consider yourselves to be “Redditors.”
Others of you have only heard of Reddit on the news, which by and large portrays it as the sordid underbelly of the internet that respectable folk avoid.
And some may not be familiar with Reddit at all. Some in-the-know B2B professionals have even dismissed Reddit as having no business utility.
Why then is Reddit the top internet discussion place for channel professionals? Here are four reasons:
1 - Anonymity:
Redditors post under pseudonymous user names, and the only requirement for creating a Reddit account is a working email address.
The service is completely free, and banner ads are minimal and unobtrusive. Furthermore, one can browse (though not interact with) all of Reddit freely even without registering.
Contrast this with Facebook and LinkedIn, and even trade shows for that matter, where every action reflects publicly on the actors and by extension their employers.
2 - Content quality:
Reddit sorts posts and comments by their scores, and Reddit pushes submissions with high scores to the front page of their Subreddit. The number of upvotes and downvotes that the post receives determine these scores.
The more individual users upvote a post, the more visible it becomes. Conversely a high number of downvotes renders low-quality posts effectively invisible. There is therefore very little spam on Reddit.
The grassroots, community-oriented sentiment of the site makes Redditors suspicious and hostile to machine-generated and sponsored content, and they downvote it on sight.
On Facebook or LinkedIn, you must really search for the content you’re interested in. But likeminded people with similar interests curate the content on Reddit.
3 - Lack of censorship:
Reddit users, because of the anonymity the platform offers, are willing to reveal more about themselves and their interests, including their professional lives, than they would in other settings.
Furthermore, Reddit itself tends to take a hands-off approach to censorship (not always to its benefit).
Although moderators of individual Subreddits delete posts, they do it only in the interest of enforcing a Subreddit’s mission statement.
The lack of censorship on Reddit gives the site a kind of Wild West or speakeasy feel. Professional Subreddits are perfect places to crowdsource industry tips and tricks, engage frankly with peers, and contribute to the discussion.
4 - Channel demographics:
According to Datto, 87 per cent of MSPs are male, and 74 per cent are under age 50. They gravitate toward fantasy and science fiction — their top-watched TV shows are Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Black Mirror.
Also 66 per cent of them have at least a four-year degree, and 92 per cent have done at least one year of college - these statistics match the profile of a Reddit user to a T; they also match the profile of a channel professional.
Redditors are 67 per cent male, 93 per cent are under age 50, and 82 per cent have done at least some college. They are notorious for their love of what one might call “nerd culture.” MSPs and Reddit are a natural fit.
The upshot of all this is that channel professionals can rely on Reddit to give them the unvarnished truth about vendors and products.
They can use Reddit to crowdsource technology advice from industry experts in a context where they aren’t beholden to certain expectations of discretion, loyalty, or even politeness.
If Redditors think a product is garbage, they will not hesitate to voice their opinion. Channel professionals can also turn to Reddit for advice in pretty much any business area and learn from peers’ firsthand experiences.
Channel marketers can no longer afford to ignore Reddit. The value of the Reddit brain trust is immense and still largely untapped.
Strategy and process assistance, service provider and technology reviews, and even brand-health investigations can all potentially be crowdsourced, at no cost, from experts in the Reddit community.
Additionally Reddit’s promise as a channel hub is vast, though reliable strategies for harnessing this promise remain elusive.
Jay McBain and Jacob Basseches are channel-focused analysts at Forrester, specialising in research and advisory for global channels, alliances, and partnerships.