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Analysis Of 5 Failed Reddit Marketing Strategies

“Companies taking their marketing campaigns on Reddit need to think on their feet and respond to situations as they arise.”

Everyone fails, even Google. We analysed five failed Reddit marketing strategies and each of them provides lots of valuable lessons on how to start and run Reddit marketing campaigns. 

Case study #1:

Jerry Stritzke, CEO of REI

Right after Jerry Stritzke, REI’s CEO announced that REI would be closed on Black Friday, he took to Reddit for an “Ask Me Anything” session. He anticipated praise for the extra day off with pay he had granted employees, however, he was bombarded with claims that the work environment at REI was simply untenable. The questions ranged from why REI did not pay employees a living wage. Why they cut employee hours and why they emphasised selling memberships as a way to measure employees’ performance.



Key Takeaway

Companies need to respond to criticism leveled against them. Back then, Stritzke was relatively new to the job, but, he did not let the constant criticism leveled against the company faze him. He made a point of responding to critics even after the AMA session was long over through internal initiatives.


Case study #2:

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan

For Redditors, inauthentic marketing schemes are absolutely unacceptable. Nissan had no knowledge of this meaning they had to find out the hard way. Redditors accused the company of planting questions during their CEO’s AMA as a way to promote their services.

There appeared to a large number of brand new accounts without a prior history asking Nissan-related marketing questions. This prompted Redditors to query Reddit why there was a barrage of new accounts asking phony questions. Nissan stated the accounts were authentic, however, Redditors on the platform simply didn’t believe the explanation from Nissan and continued to lambast the company.

Key Takeaway: Reddit can tarnish the reputation of a brand, especially if the company is labeled as being unauthentic. Companies looking to make inroads on Reddit need to ensure that they are well-versed with the platform or at the very least, hire someone who does.


Case study #3:

Google, Site Reliability Engineering Team

Despite being a tech-giant. Google managed to get Reddit interactions wrong. 

Just as Google was gearing for their AMA with the Site Reliability Engineering Team, Gmail services went down. In turn, the entire AMA session turned into chaos. One Redditor after another castigated the company for failing to provide good services.


Key Takeaway

Through no mistake of their own, Google went on to be castigated for mistakes they couldn’t foresee. Companies taking their marketing campaigns on Reddit need to think on their feet and respond to situations as they arise.


Case study #4

CEO of Skiplagged

Apparently, the famous travel company had a loophole in airline pricing called “hidden city ticketing” that it used to make the big bucks. Once the big airlines took the travel company to court and lost, the CEO took to Reddit to share his story and consult about the best charities to donate some of the excess fees.

As is usually the tale most times on Reddit, his revelation didn’t go according to plan. In truth, some Redditors actually lauded the move and suggested a couple of top charities he should check out and make general inquiries about how Skiplagged works. On the other hand, a huge chunk of Redditors repeatedly bashed the CEO and pointed at the numerous risks involved with hidden cities.

In addition, Redditors went on to warn consumers not to fall victim to the well-worded sales pitch. In a matter of moments, the site went down after a couple of hours. All thanks to the now-famous “Reddit hug of death”.


Key Takeaway 

One should never assume they have absolute control over the conversation, simply because they started the narrative. Importantly, the lack of hate from Redditors doesn’t necessarily translate to the absence of faith and love in your services.


Case study #3

Woody Harrelson

The famous actor went down in Reddit folklore as the most failed AMA session ever. Right after shooting his movie Rampart, Harrelson sought to endear some Reddit fans to check out the film and give a couple of rave reviews.

Trouble started when Harrelson tried to condition Redditors to model their questions with the film in focus. He imposed this condition as he deflected questions some Redditors asked about his personal life.

Immediately he shared this information, the backlash was immediate. Redditors were swift to label him as a diva who let members of his PR team answer questions posed to him. Those responsible for handling his PR campaign noticed this and tried to answer a few other questions in order to deflect attention from the initial reaction. However, the damage had already been done.



Key Takeaway

While AMAs should be responded to irrespective of the questions asked, sometimes, it’s best to simply ignore the questions posed when one can’t find an appropriate response.


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