How Reddit Became the Internet Mordor For Brands

/// How Reddit Became the Internet Mordor For Brands

March 3, 2014  |  Blog

Talk NYC is continuing its new contributor series with Rohit Thawani, Digital Strategy Director, TBWA/Chiat/Day LA

I’m a Middle-earth fan.  I wish I lived in Rivendell, and knew elves, and went on adventures with Gandalf as my guide. I loved reading about the Valar and Hurin and Fingolfin, the Numenorians and their deception by Sauron. I listen to the Prague Philharmonic’s rendition of the Lord of the Rings Soundtrack on a daily basis.

I especially love reading the posts and comments on r/TolkienFans, a small Reddit community dedicated to serious discussion by hardcore followers of JRR Tolkien. In this subreddit, I bask in pure awe at the historians with a biblical knowledge of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s lesser-known works.

As a very active Redditor, I choose to remain a silent member among the 19,000-person r/TolkienFans community. I simply don’t have much to contribute that would push any conversation forward or be relevant in humor. I happily play around and contribute to the larger, mainstream 59,000-person r/LOTR page, which mostly features memes and references to the books and films I adore. It’s much easier to post on r/LOTR because I have a lesser chance of ruining things there.

Which begs me to ask a few questions: Why are so many brands quick to jump on Reddit when they’re not even versed in the most basic language and behavior of the community? Why are brands hosting Ask Me Anything sessions with their CEOs who ignore the hard questions people most want answered? Why are brands trying to post shitty memes and pass them off as content that the cool kids love? Why are they eager to make themselves look like asses in front of 114 million monthly unique visitors?

The answer is simple: Reddit is the homepage of the Internet. Online culture begins and ends on Reddit. From Gangam Style to anti-SOPA lobbying to addressing global civic issues, the Reddit community is one of the largest, most diverse and influential communities on the planet. If a post hits the front page of Reddit on a Monday, there’s a good chance it’s on Buzzfeed on Wednesday and Facebook a few weeks later. Before you know it, even your school principal is doing the Harlem Shake.

I can’t blame brands for trying to get on Reddit. Heck, I actually support it, if they’re brave enough to do it right. Which is why Garrett Tillman and I decided to host a panel at SXSW titled: Reddit, You’re Doing It Wrong.

We’d love to take attendees through what brands on Reddit are doing wrong, what they’re doing right and how they can work with the community to do more than just attempt to make ads go viral.

We know that once advertisers get their act right on Reddit, they’ll stop ruining Reddit. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible with our help.

One does not simply walk into Mordor.


rohit headshot

Follow Rohit Thawani @vohit4rohit

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