Mining Reddit for social media content

|| January 24, 2020

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

If you’ve been keeping up with the 55 comms blogs, then you’ll be familiar with the social media platform Reddit. For those unaware, Reddit is one of the most visited websites in the world (6th most visited) and best enjoyed due to the infinite source of great content on literally every topic you can imagine.

It’s often left out of any discussion surrounding big social media platforms, but that’s why it’s most powerful to your content plan.

Ever wondered where UniLad or Buzzfeed are sourcing their viral content? It’s probably Reddit.

Most mornings I’ll scroll through the new content in my Reddit feed, only to see it a few hours later repurposed and published on UniLad. If you’re looking to establish yourself as a content/value leader in your industry and never worry about sourcing content again, this blog is for you. Here are five steps to source social media content from Reddit.

Before I detail each step, it’s important that (for our readers unfamiliar with Reddit), you understand how Reddit works.

Much like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc, Reddit makes use of a liking system (upvotes and downvotes), comments, and shares.

You have your own profile, can follow other Redditors. In many ways we’re all familiar with this.

Where Reddit separates itself is with their subreddits; a forum dedicated to a specific topic.

Examples of a topic could be social media, gaming, sports, or as niche as ‘don’t flinch’, a subreddit focused on videos that are meant to make you flinch.

It’s within these forums that communities are built around specific topics and endless content is shared.

A user can create a post within the subreddit and members or visitors can comment on it. Now that we’re clear on the structure of Reddit, let’s explore the methods of content sourcing.

1 Do a general search on Reddit

It may seem obvious, but if you don’t use Reddit much (or at all), you may be surprised by the results. Let’s use a pretend client who works in photography as our example for this step and all the steps following.

For our client we want to create some content around photography, so using Reddit, we perform a general search for “photography”.

The search provided a stack of useful results. A quick look showed a lot of people posting photos they had taken or photos of their equipment.

If you look a bit more you see some posts around help with photography, help with photography gear, “ask-me-anything”, photo series and news in the photography industry.

Alongside the search results is a helpful tab that shows what else people searched for as well as photography; this showed amateur photography, themed photography, wood photography, and so on.

Already we have a few content ideas we can form some brainstorming around as we progress to the next step.

2 Find a subreddit that fits

Next is finding the subreddit that fits best with the content you’re looking to find.

Fortunately, photography is a widely popular topic and has its own subreddit, so we can start looking here. A quick scroll through the subreddit and you notice a lot of posts asking for advice, a lot of people providing tips and tricks, and a lot of tutorials. This is perfect.

We can now begin to narrow down our content into advice, tips and tricks, and tutorials, for the sake of this example.

If you find your particular topic doesn’t have its own subreddit or perhaps it does but the subreddit is pretty inactive, then you can use the general search to broaden your search.

If, for example, your topic was limousines, the limos subreddit is very inactive, so you could broaden your search to cars.

On the cars subreddit, there was a guide to breakdowns and cutaways of different machines, and limos were featured a lot. This is now useful content we can begin to work with.

3 Look at subreddit content from the past month

This is a particularly useful strategy that will help you identify trends in your topic. At the top of each subreddit, you’re able to sort the posts by ‘Top’, and when you click that, it’ll ask you to sort from the top post from the last 24 hours, 7 days, 1 month, this year, all time.

If you choose one month, it will automatically show you the posts in the subreddit that were most popular.

Continuing to use photography as the example, when we sort the top posts from the last month, we start to notice some trends in the best performing content.

Among the top is a post explaining the difference between smartphone photos and camera photos, another is advice for beginning photographers, another is advice to be nice to other photographers, and a few posts about some black and white images found that depict soviet life years and years ago.

As you keep scrolling, it’s noticeable that advice to achieve certain looks, angles, editing and equipment is a trend, and that historical photos and news is an emerging trend. This trend identification is precisely our fourth step.

4 Identify trends, patterns, sticky ideas

As I eluded to in step 3, sorting top content will help organise the content of a subreddit so you can easily identify trends, patterns and sticky ideas.

Above we identified that advice was a consistent trend. We also found that historical photos, particularly around the discovery of old soviet black and whites was beginning to form a pattern of regularity in the subreddit (an emerging trend). These should both be easy enough to understand.

Stick ideas, however, may be a new term. Sticky ideas describe things you come across that just stick in your head after reading them. The thinking is that if it’s stuck in your mind, then it’s likely to do the same with your audience.

In the photography subreddit, there was a post about a photographer who allegedly travelled to “the end of the world” to capture photos of animals rarely seen. The mystery and rarity stuck in my mind ever since.

5 Polish and improve the ideas you’ve found

Now that you’ve got a list of possible content ideas about photography, it’s all about selecting which content you feel best fits your audience.

From here, you polish the content, and improve/repurpose it with your own twist.

Do not claim ownership over other work, obviously, but if you are sharing value to your audience and supporting other content then you are doing it right.

Even better, someone’s content might give you an idea to create something more original of your own.

And that’s it!

Reddit is a treasure trove of ever-growing masses of content, you just need to spend the time taking a look.

Take what you need, repurpose it to fit your brand, and map it out in your content calendar – your audience will be grateful.