Feeling isolated? If you want to get in touch with other retailers – and have some time on your hands – the social forum Reddit might be for you. A disclaimer:  I don’t have any extra time at this point, so I don’t use it myself – but I’m curious. I see Reddit referred to in other social media, and in Google results on topics I’m interested in.

The first thing I learned is that Reddit comes from the term “read it,” since those who post something hope others will read it. According to Reddit’s home page, “Reddit is home to thousands of communities, endless conversation, and authentic human connection.” The company was launched in 2005 in San Francisco by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, and went public just this year. It now has more than 267 million weekly active users (about ½ in the U.S.). Some 73 million users log on daily. 

Reddit is a currently a network of over 100,000 communities offering a stream of posts from their members – mostly text, but they can now include photos and video. These communities are called subreddits, and each one, according to digiday.com, has its own rules and cultures. There is usually one or more volunteer moderator serving as the steward of the conversations, making sure they are on-topic and safe. Examples of subreddits focusing on retail are RetailHell, TalesfromRetail, AskRetail and SmallBusiness

When a redditor, or user, posts a comment, it is usually in order to ask a question or start a conversation.  I recently came across a fun tip – if you sincerely want help with a problem, create a separate account to answer your own question with an incorrect answer. Apparently the urge to correct wrong advice or information is much stronger than the impetus to answer a question in the first place.

You can sign up for Reddit using your Google account or Apple ID, or an email address. Once you are in, you’ll want to follow the rules of “Reddiquette” spelled out in this article. One unique aspect of the conversations you’ll be joining is the ability to upvote a conversation you think contributes to the subreddit it is posted in, or to downvote one that is off-topic.

Another aspect of Reddit worth noting is that it now allows advertising. This is an opportunity to target very specific interest groups highly engaged in the type of products you are selling. Even if you don’t want to sell via Reddit, it may be worth joining a subreddit focused on your niche in order to learn more about what these potential customers have to say.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder