It’s not magic, it’s human.
If you’re not familiar with Peeple — don’t be. I’ll spare you from anguishing over the fate of the human race with a “so eloquent I don’t need to Google” summary. Essentially, it’s Yelp for humans. The Peeple app allows you to post ratings and reviews of other people. Once someone is in their system, the listing can’t be removed — ever. Reviews on the listing, truthful or otherwise, can’t be deleted either because (and you’ll need to remember this quote) “that would defeat the whole purpose.”
The Internet has responded with an almost inspirationally uniformed outrage and disgust at this concept. We can only assume that this stems from the desire we all have to only say nice things or nothing at all… not to avoid ridicule about that one time we “accidentally” slept with a married woman or even something so sacred as our religious beliefs that the toilet seat shall remain raised at all times to remind us that we, like the toilet, must also be open to God.
Of course someone like Julia Cordray, Co-Founder of the Peeple app, who believes a “human rating system” to be a valid business idea would obviously welcome any criticism with open arms… not so much. Nope, she posted on Facebook asking how she could (get this)… “prevent people from posting comments” on their page. Deleting people’s opinion’s?! Doesn’t that “defeat the whole purpose?”
Enter Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at the Altimeter Group, who shared his opinions on the matter with me via email. Solis had just published to LinkedIn, as he does quite frequently, discussing the irony of Cordray’s statements. Glimpsing through the article it became obvious that, amongst all of the press coverage on the topic, he had conveyed a unique perspective on the topic and framed it within a powerful lesson about human interaction within the web — perfect fodder for Reddit.
Step 1: Curate Or Create Valuable Content
We’re not talking about “hold the door for a pretty girl” kind of valuable. We’re talking about “write a holiday card so sentimental that it makes every living relative (and even a few dead ones) cry tears of joy.” Reddit is a Community Platform and, unlike Brand Platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) where people choose to see someone’s content, people follow topics that anyone can post to. These topics range from “ask science” to “shower thoughts”, but the rules are simple — if you don’t add to the conversation, you’ll get the internet equivalent of a sledgehammer to the balls. People haven’t made the choice to follow your posts so if you submit something that’s not relevant to the community it’s considered an invasion of their personal space — and rightfully so. To put it simply, their standards are higher than the kid that always hung out behind the dumpsters at your high school.
If Solis’ article was a pop artist it would have been considered the Beyonce of LinkedIn (because let’s be honest, most of the stuff people post there is self-serving dribble designed to win the author new clients), but move that same content to Reddit and it becomes Miley Cyrus — some decent hits, but a complete travesty. This begs the question, how can we make it sexy?
Step 2: Be Relevant Or Die
Let’s pretend for a moment that I posted “Nickelback is the best band of all time” on my Facebook page. My friends would likely be outraged at this blasphemous claim, but it’s unlikely that they would object violently to the existence of the statement in their newsfeed. On a Brand Platform like Facebook they have made the choice to be friends with me (thus following my updates) and they have the choice as to whether or not that that will remain the case.
On Community Platforms where people join a communal space, posting content that isn’t relevant to the community it’s being submitted to is the equivalent of dropping a box of condoms at an abstinence convention. The key to driving meaningful traffic (and not getting beaten to death) is relevance.
In order get traction with Solis’ article, I needed to identify a community within Reddit (called ‘subreddits’ or ‘subs’) where it would be relevant. Instead of making analytical assumptions that it would fit in subreddits like /r/business or /r/socialmedia… I opted to do research. I searched for any references to ‘Peeple’ and looked for submissions that had managed to gain popularity. I discovered that /r/drama, a community dedicated to “any incident, scene, gaffe, rumor, opinion, or disagreement that is blown entirely out of proportion”, had been discussing the startup earlier that week. Seeing that their discussions were generic in nature and didn’t include the irony of the Co-Founder’s recent Facebook post it seemed like the perfect home for the submission.
Step 3: Speak The Native Language
With many of its regular users sharing the same irreverent wit, Reddit as a whole has a voice so discernible that it’s described as having it’s own language… which it does. While there’s a thematic similarity across the entire platform, each of the 9K+ subreddits have their own versions of the dialect and are known to speak through shared memories. Seemingly random phrases like “banana for scale” and “jolly rancher” (for the love of all that is holy don’t google that) can evoke anything from raucous laughter to utter disgust and leave any outsider bewildered in the process.
In order to have the best chance at relevance, I scrolled through the ‘hot’ submissions in /r/drama and dissected to find the common elements. In the case of this community, the only “drama” was the content — not the titles. The submissions were a clear description of the story within the content so I knew I needed to avoid any kind of vague, click-bait as a post title (something that is more suited for /r/aww or /r/tinder). You could develop a cure for cancer, but if it looks anything like my father’s cooking there’s little-to-zero chance that it’ll ever be given the opportunity to save someone’s life.
Here’s a snapshot of the title that was submitted:
Step 4: Magnify Your Service To The Community
The only thing better than getting a new iPhone for your birthday is eating your way through a gift box forged entirely of bacon only to discover that the present hidden within is a new iPhone… which is preloaded Beyonce’s cell and the app to unlock your new Tesla that’s sitting outside full of Victoria Secret models and more bacon. It doesn’t matter what you’re submitting to the a subreddit — it can be better. Never will there exist content so magnificent that you can give anything less than several fucks about submission.
There are two types of submissions allowed on /r/drama — link and text. A link submission will take users directly to an article when they click the title while a text post will take people to the comments with further details. Seeing that most of the top posts in the subreddit were text submissions that’s what I opted for, but I needed to write something that added value. I opted to deliver my perspective (and a summary of the news coverage) to further stimulate conversation.
You can’t click ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ and call it a day. You have to serve the community.
Step 5: Drop The Bass & Prepare To Boogie
Reddit conversations are like giving oral sex, if you start the process — it’s rude not to stay and finish. You can drop something and piece out, but you’re not going to win any friends and you’re missing out on a massive element of driving traffic. Not only does activity in the comments influence Reddit’s algorithm, but the first respondents guide the conversation. Rule of thumb, anytime you submit something to Reddit be prepared to spend the next 20-30 minutes investing in the discussion.
Step 6: Collect Your Rewards
This submission had 42 votes and was 86% upvoted resulting in 30 points. In layman’s terms, 42 people voted on the content — 6 people thought it sucked and 36 people thought it was interesting (i.e. relevant to the community). There were also 10 comments, 4 of which were responses by me, that accumulated an additional 79 points (each user can vote up or down on the comments in the same way they vote on the content). All in all, only 50 people or so actually engaged the content in some form.
If you average Solis’ last 5 posts on LinkedIn you will get an average view count of 5,075 while his article on the Peeple debacle currently sits at 25,035 views (one day after being posted to Reddit). That’s a 493% increase in traffic for a 20 minute investment of time into serving a community. One post was responsible for nearly 20,000 readers that wouldn’t have otherwise seen the content. What’s your cost-per-click? How much would that be worth to you? What if you could magnify that even further?
As you can see, this process is not about some clever trick or algorithm hack. It’s about understanding who you’re speaking to and crafting something that is, first and foremost, for their benefit. You cannot half-ass your investment into Community Platforms like Reddit and Imgur, but if you invest strategically and create with specific communities in mind it can have massive payoffs.
Stop thinking of marketing as a process to convince people and start thinking of it as an opportunity to entertain them.
My interest in Community Platforms truly began the day I published a story about pranking my roommate with facebook ads. A single post generated five million earned media impressions, features in publications like AdWeek and The Observer, as well as a booked consulting calendar. Since then, I’ve created and launched an e-commerce store that garnered 156K pageviews in the first 24 hours, a software project that pulled 11K pageviews and 563 email signups in the first 30 minutes, and everything in between.
The process of influencing without an audience is something taught only within Ghost Influence, an elite training community for leveraging the power of platforms like Reddit and Imgur. If you’re interested learning how members of the Ghost Influence community are consistently driving 7 million pageviews per day through these platforms click here.