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Reddit Ads, Bad and Rad 🔥 Content Hell

Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders
How do you do, fellow kids?
This week I’m looking at whether B2B SaaS companies have a place on Reddit.
For this email I’ll focus on the tone of content you want to strike on Reddit, because for B2B SaaS companies, this is probably the most direct route to Content Hell.
My little investigation is by no means comprehensive, so if you’re looking for more, David Baer has the best commentary on driving SaaS sign ups organically, and Larry Ludwig has written a complete guide to advertising on Reddit.

Second Impressions
Writing about Reddit meant I spent about an hour poking around for research. I hadn’t spent so much time on Reddit since my early-mid-20s, and back then my activity was limited to:
  • Scrolling through r/cringe
  • Asking strangers for legal advice on r/legaladviceuk (this works better than you’d think)
  • Working for a content farm where I lifted trending media from Reddit and uploaded it to another, less successful site, one image every 10 minutes (12 minutes if I was hungover).
My experience on Reddit was a little different this time. The site still has the spirit of a Web 1.0 forum, but advertisers can turn off comments, so it’s less terrifying for them to put stuff live.
Although users have found other ways to shout about how much they dislike ads, the presence of advertising on the platform is much less conspicuous than it used to be. Maybe because I’m so much more used to being flooded with ads on other platforms.
At first I thought this email would become a mini guide on creating fun / self-aware / off-brand content for Reddit Ads, but I saw so many examples of B2B brands doing this wrong that I’m not convinced it’s the right approach.
Plus I’m somehow in my 30s now and I even let the Instagram boat sail by, so I’m probably not well equipped to be giving advice on “adolescent e-trends”.
But to be fair, you don’t need to be 16 to look at a subreddit like r/fellowkids and recognise that lots of brands that try to be cute miss the mark with a Reddit audience.
So how do you produce content for Reddit - and should you even bother?
The Fancy Hat Club
Imagine you’re preparing to give a talk at a club where you know everyone wears a fancy hat. You have to make a choice, do you wear a fancy hat too?
You’ll ask yourself the questions: “Do I feel comfortable wearing a fancy hat?”, “Do I have the right kind of fancy hat?”, “Does it suit me?” and most importantly, “Am I sure about this?”
Ultimately, the audience decides whether you made the right choice. And boy can they spot a shit hat.
The analogy continues below ↓
Deloitte did not suit their fancy hat
In this case Deloitte tried to wear an understated fancy hat and got it wrong. Choosing to present an engineer with a less-than-full-width ‘alt’ hairdo made a lot of web devs laugh.
Unreel wore the wrong fancy hat
This video monetisation platform somehow missed the fact that searching all of Reddit for the word ‘bae’ returns exactly 0 results (probably). Piss was taken, not much more to say about this one.
Upwork didn’t wear a fancy hat
Instead of wearing a fancy hat, Upwork pushed out some generic creative with a practical tagline. With comments turned off, it was all very neutral.
I noticed that most B2B ads on Reddit followed this approach. Monday and Squarespace also use creative that looks like it’s from a standard display campaign, so totally non-tailored to a Reddit audience.
Hard to know how effective it is just by looking (like most ads I guess), but at least there’s a precedent for publishing ads that don’t try too hard, if you wanted to go there.
Now that is one damn fancy hat
This is the only ad I could find that did a great job of nailing Reddit / internet humour.
Not B2B, but for a bank, so close enough to our white collar world to show that it can be done.
And this is how it was received.
It’s worth noting that this bank didn’t just knock together a meme, like so many advertisers. They would have spent thousands producing that video.
So what should you do?
Don’t let this email deter you from trying new stuff on Reddit if you know your audience is there. Just be aware that people might have seen it before and/or fling mud at it.
That’s not such a bad thing, mind. Advertising costs are pretty low and with comments turned off you can test borderline funny or unimaginative content with relative impunity.
Of course if you publish a howler, expect a different response.
Maybe just give it a go?
👉 Over to you
Thanks for reading! Now you’re done there are two ways you can help. Either would be amazing.
  1. Forward it on to someone who you think would like it
  2. Reply and let me know what you thought of it
See you in two weeks!
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Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders

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