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Reddit social listening: What it is and strategies for using it


Reddit social listening is the process of tracking and analyzing mentions of your brand, industry, competitors and important keywords on Reddit. The benefits go beyond your marketing strategy, as social listening can increase org-wide success.

On Reddit, which has around 52 million daily active users and around 138,000 subreddits, there’s a conversation for any interest, and threads for nearly any brand. This makes Reddit social listening a supercharged feedback tool. It’s qualitative data without the fluff. International marketing manager at Sprout Social, Jocelyn Rodriguez-Piedra says, “Reddit goes beyond the curated feeds and filtered metrics to reveal the unfiltered authenticity of customer conversations. It is a goldmine of raw, honest data waiting to be unearthed.”

Reddit has gotten an SEO boost. According to Rodriguez-Piedra, “The Google and Reddit partnership essentially elevates Reddit as a more valuable source for consumer intelligence. Social listening on Reddit is a way to harvest and mine data that goes beyond the ‘what’ of consumer conversations and helps you see the ‘why.’”

Why is Reddit social listening important?

Redditors share candid opinions in a way they wouldn’t in a branded survey or even on social media accounts that have their real names attached. That’s why being a fly on the Reddit wall has many positives for your brand.

Brand discoverability

With Google indexing Reddit data, there’s a good chance a customer searching for your brand will pull up subreddit conversations in response to their query. This means paid backlinks and media placements aren’t the only way to optimize your SEO.

“Conversations on Reddit may now have a greater impact on brand discoverability and visibility,” Rodriguez-Piedra explains. “Social listening enables you to understand what kind of content resonates on Reddit and optimize your brand’s presence to be surfaced in relevant searches.”

A thread on r/FordBronco that features both Ford and Owala water bottles, as the poster asks for advice on getting a large water bottle to fit into their Bronco’s cup holder.
Those posts boosting your brand’s Google presence are also full of useful information about your customer base, data that Rodriguez-Piedra says may be even more credible than other sources.

Richer insights

Google’s AI capabilities paired with Reddit social listening data can help marketers uncover deeper, more meaningful insights. The key, Rodriguez-Piedra says, is diving deep, not wide. “Reddit is not a one-size-fits-all platform with its intricate network of subreddits,” she says.

She recommends focusing on the granular details that show you the “why” behind customer sentiment and the choices they make. “You can identify patterns in frustrations, desires and emerging trends within highly specific communities,” she notes.

Reddit posts can spotlight the true emotional pulse of the customer and using AI tools that analyze sentiment can help connect the dots and highlight pain points. Rodrieguez-Piedra explains, “Social listening enables us to move beyond guesswork and intuition, truly providing a rich tapestry of customer sentiment in real-time.”

Sprout Social’s Social Listening tools leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze sentiment expressed in text. Having AI support like NLP can add context and color to the content you gather through social listening on Reddit.

Identify customer pain points

While a customer may let you know of issues they have during the purchase process, you often won’t get detailed feedback unless there’s a complaint. And customers who do respond to feedback surveys aren’t always detailed about their broader thoughts on your industry or competitors.

On niche subreddits related to your brand, however, conversations are full of these tidbits.

 post on r/Hyatt discussing in-room coffee makers and potential changes around them being included. The right panel shows information about the subreddit, including total membership and users currently online.
Complaints about your brand and products as well as competitors are an opportunity for you to identify and improve areas you may have previously overlooked. A single Reddit thread can provide intel to inform product development and even address problems before they escalate.

And—when done correctly—your brand can even join conversations on the platform.

Join conversations

Joining a conversation on Reddit is a true example of meeting your audience where they are. Reddit is also known for launching and nurturing trends and memes, and a single Reddit thread can become a news story all on its own. But there are some nuances to consider when responding to posts.

The number one rule, according to Rodriguez-Piedra: Don’t just drop in a sales pitch. “Offer valuable insights, answer questions, connect with people in the way the platform has encouraged users to show up—authentically. Become a resource, not a bullhorn.”

Customers don’t like being sold to on any social platform, but Reddit users really won’t take kindly to a brand account trying to upsell products in a thread. Instead, consider how you can leverage the people on your team to create value. Whether an “ask me anything” (AMA) on a relevant subreddit or assigning a specific person to browse Reddit and find customer care questions they can answer, always put authenticity at the center.

How to use Reddit social listening for your brand

Using social listening on Reddit requires a thoughtful strategy and an understanding of what to do with all the insights you’ll find. Here are suggestions on how to get started.

Find subreddits and keywords for your social listening strategy

A Reddit search page for Costco, showing results from the Costco and Frugal subreddits. There are suggested subreddits on the right, r/Costco, r/CostcoCanada, r/Costco_alcohol, r/InstacartShoppers and r/Whiskey.

The uncurated nature of Reddit offers many paths to follow when looking for relevant content. To find the right subreddits and keywords to track, turn to your overall marketing plan and what you already know about your target audience. Ask questions like:

  • What hobbies do our customer personas have that relate to our brand?
  • What’s their age range and location? What subreddits are popular with that age group or geographic location?
  • What major keywords are we using in our SEO strategy?

Begin searching on Reddit for subreddits and threads based on those hobbies, ages, locations and keywords. Also search for your brand name, your competitors’ names and industry topics. You may even find a subreddit dedicated solely to your brand. But, keep in mind that a thread doesn’t need to mention your brand to contain valuable insight.

Once you find a relevant thread, look through the users participating in the conversation. See the post history and analyze the upvotes and downvotes on individual posts to see what content the broader community supports. This will give you additional ideas for topics and subreddits to check out.

Monitor and analyze Reddit conversations

Thousands of posts go live every hour, and Reddit conversations flow and change quickly. A machine-learning (ML) based, centralized tool like Sprout, with its Advanced Listening capability will help you keep up.

You can create customized queries based on your previous Reddit research, automatically sift through the noise and get straight to the relevant insights. Advanced Listening also helps you uncover notable patterns and analyze sentiment on a granular level.

Create customized queries based on your previous Reddit research and automatically sift through the noise to get relevant insights with the Sprout Social's Query Builder Advanced Listening

Rodriguez-Piedra believes this is where the true value of Reddit social listening lies. “By leaning into data, we foster a culture of data-driven decision-making and, in return, transform the fleeting buzz of Reddit into sustainable brand success.”

Define a regular schedule for reviewing the data your social listening tools provide, and build a timeline for sharing with key stakeholders at your organization. Create guidelines for responding to key conversations you come across, keeping in mind that the window of time to respond may be short.

Engage and nurture Reddit prospects/customers found through listening

Marketing on Reddit requires a thoughtful approach. If you want to add to your customer pipeline via Reddit, Rodrgiuez-Piedra suggests becoming a Reddit regular.

“Immerse yourself in relevant subreddits. Actively participate in discussions, not for promotional purposes, but to genuinely connect and understand the community’s dynamics. What pulls at their heart strings?”, she says.

Community dynamics may not always be positive, and you’ll likely come across critiques and rants. But don’t shy away from the negativity. Instead, consider addressing the concerns directly and honestly. Taking part in Reddit conversations as a brand requires a commitment to following the community guidelines set, and transparency is always to your benefit.

The people have spoken—are you listening?

There’s a world of opportunity waiting for your brand on Reddit. With the right social listening tools, you can sift through thousands of posts and find content deeply relevant to your organization and target audience, whether it mentions your brand directly or not.

Social listening can open doors your marketing strategy couldn’t otherwise. You don’t need to be a full-fledged data scientist to open those doors, either. Get started with our guide to creating better social listening queries.

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