How to Go Viral on Reddit

Reddit is a popular content aggregator social media platform, boasting hundreds of million users. The platform enjoys use by 430 million monthly active users, with over 100,000 active communities. Because of these numbers, it is easy for its content to get viral within and sometimes outside Reddit. Many users try to ride the wave of Reddit virality for marketing or simply to enjoy it. 

Getting viral on Reddit

Getting viral on Reddit involves various factors that must align perfectly if your content will stand the chance of spreading like wildfire. Here are some of the essential factors:

Quality content

This is an essential factor in ensuring your post goes viral. You are sharing your post with other humans, who naturally will enjoy and share exciting and top-tier content. As such, your first mission is to develop exceptional quality content that is worthy of being viral. 

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, where other users sign up to see your content, getting attention on Reddit will be difficult if you do not add the necessary value to the communal conversation. 

Quality content is also essential because, unlike most other social media platforms, Reddit empowers users to punish posts they consider irrelevant in the form of downvotes. As a result, not only do you lose the opportunity to be viral, but you also get downvoted. Reddit typically hides posts with significant downvotes. 

Another aspect of posting quality content is ensuring that your posts are accurate and factual. This is essential because false posts are often aggressively downvoted, effectively killing off their popularity chances. It may be helpful to provide links to the source in the post’s body or as a comment under the post. However, if you are unsure of the authenticity of what you intend to post, you may put up a disclaimer.

The right audience

This is an offshoot of the first factor. A quality post must always be with respect to a particular audience. A well-researched opinion on the fundamentals of cryptocurrency will not pass for quality content in a community like r/Soccer. 

Identifying a suitable audience is not difficult, especially on Reddit. The website comprises several communities with specific niches, so you can almost always find an audience. The best way to search for a suitable community is to search for relevant keywords. 

After identifying a suitable community, the next step is to ensure you understand the community’s engagement rules. Many communities have different rules, and flouting them may delete your post. 

The rules are typically on the third panel of the community’s home page. When you arrive in a community, you will automatically arrive at its “posts” section. Click on the “menu” text to assess information about the community. On desktop Reddit, the rules are on the left-side rail of the homepage. 

Going through these rules and incorporating them into your post is vital to ensure that your post gets to the members of the communities as (auto) moderators delete posts that flout the rules. If you are unsure about how a particular rule affects your content, you can always send the mods a question. 

Size of the community

The size of the community you post your content to is essential as virality is based on upvotes. Because the number of upvotes (relative to downvotes) influences the post’s score, getting as many upvotes as possible is essential. 

It is only natural that posts within a community like r/Pics with more than 10 million users will have posts with higher scores than those in communities like r/Barca with about a hundred thousand users. 

While it is true that you can crosspost a post from one community to another, it is essential that your post reaches the appropriate community as early as possible. 

Make the post at the correct time

This is vital as the timing of the post matters. The older a post is, the unlikelier it is to get – or remain – popular. According to research by Randy Olsen, a “12-hour-old post needs roughly three times the score to match the hotness of a 6-hour-old post”. 

Because of this limitation, it is necessary to time your posts to ensure you make it at a point of peak – or near peak – activity. If you make your post while most users are asleep, it is unlikely to receive as much attention – and activity – as a post made during high activity.

An offshoot of this is to take note of the prevailing time zone of the relevant subreddit. If you live in the US and your target audience is the r/casualUK subreddit, you may be as much as 6-8 hours behind. Factor this into your guesstimate of the peak activity period, knowing that at 6 pm, many members of your audience are fast asleep.

Engage with the post

Many users drop the post and then fail to engage with the comments afterward. Colloquially referred to as a hit-and-run, doing this will significantly affect the chances of your post getting viral. This is because the most traction on the platform comes from engaging in the discussion and comments that occur after you post. Luckily, Reddit notifies you when a user interacts with your post, making it easy to respond quickly to keep the conversation going. 

Telling when your post goes viral

The most common method to determine if your post is popular is if it is in the “Hot posts” segment of the subreddit you posted it to. This is because posts with the highest upvotes typically appear at the top of the community in which they were posted. Usually, this is enough indication that your post has gone viral. 

However, depending on certain factors, your post could become so viral that it makes it to r/all or r/Popular. r/all collates the popular posts from most of Reddit. To prevent manipulation, the exact method for determining how a post gets picked up by r/all is unknown. However, the essential factors are the post’s age and score. r/Popular is very similar to r/all in terms of viral content. Nevertheless, popularity on the r/all and r/popular pages are very short-lived as age is vital in determining a post’s virality.

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