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How A Fashion Brand Drives 20% Of Daily Online Revenue From A Single Reddit Post
Reddit can be a challenging place for marketing, but Uniqlo is making its presence there pay off by embracing the community rather than parachuting in to exploit it.
Reddit can be a challenging place for brands.
In fact, it can be downright hostile, given Reddit users’ general disdain for marketing on Reddit, most vociferously expressed on HailCorporate, a forum dedicated to exposing, ridiculing and stomping out businesses’ efforts to pitch their wares on the platform. Add Reddit’s well-publicized recent troubles with managing the rougher edges of its community — namely its racist and sexist underbelly — and it’s no surprise that some brands are wary of associating themselves with Reddit.
Why try to join a raucous party when you’re not invited?
For one thing, it’s too large an audience to ignore. Reddit claims 200 million monthly visitors and can push significant amounts of traffic to links that take off on the network. For another, if you are embraced, you are in for a good time. Take, for example, fashion retailer Uniqlo.
Uniqlo’s Reddit effort started in October 2012, after traffic from Reddit crashed the soft launch of its e-commerce site. Taking notice of the wave of interest, Arielle Dyda, a Uniqlo e-commerce manager, investigated and started posting on Reddit on behalf of the company.
Now, Reddit drives more traffic and revenue to Uniqlo than any other social channel. In the last month, the company tells Marketing Land, referral traffic from social media drove five percent of sessions on UNIQLO.com with the overwhelming majority, 64 percent, coming from Reddit. And of the three percent of monthly sales driven by social media, 64 percent came from Reddit, with Facebook (20 percent) and Twitter (11 percent) lagging far behind.
More impressively, on days when Uniqlo posts special deals on Reddit, it is seeing 20 percent of its total online sales come from Reddit referrals from that post — that’s one-fifth of daily revenue attributed to a single social media link.
“It’s surprising,” Dyda told Marketing Land. “When we talk to other people it’s like ‘Wait, what?’ And most of the time people don’t even know what Reddit is. So it’s a unique thing we’ve done over here.”
The things Dyda is doing are fairly simple. Using her personal Reddit account, midnight1214, which is tagged as an official company representative, Dyda spends about an hour and a half a day monitoring the discussion and answering customer service questions. She invites Redditors to Uniqlo retail locations, meetups that have drawn as many as 100 people.
When the company has an especially good deal or a product launch, she’ll post that, usually on frugalmalefashion, a subreddit with 175,000 subscribers sharing the best places they find inexpensive apparel.
It’s fertile ground for Uniqlo, as the social metrics show. Dyda said the key to success is to be there, be real and when appropriate, be playful.
“We are very lucky that Uniqlo delivers that product but they just want someone that’s honest and real,” she said. “If you complain on Facebook about other companies, you often get a formulaic answer and the Reddit community is smarter than that, they expect more than that.
“So just being able to be a genuine person is important. I joke around with them, I post memes. I’m savvy with the Reddit lingo and that makes me one of them. I’m not just Uniqlo, I’m midnight1214, and I understand the jokes and I understand frustrations, but I’m going to be here to help you when you need it.”
Being perceived as part of the community rather than someone parachuting in to exploit it, mitigates some of the risk of backlash from curmudgeonly Redditors. Being entirely transparent about her employer helps, too. And she also maintains a close relationship with moderators of subreddits she posts in, privately asking for advice about posts that could be seen as too promotional. Having the backing of mods can be helpful.
“They will generally come to my defense if some comments get out of hand,” Dyda said.
Most feedback from Redditors has been supportive, even cheerleading.
That type of goodwill is priceless and earned by being a regular presence on Reddit. Brands wanting to replicate Uniqlo’s success should investigate first, Dyda said.
“I think if another band wants to jump in, they really have to take the time and learn and understand first of all what are people saying about your company,” Dyda said. “We were lucky that people liked us already, so it was a little easier to go in and say, ‘Hey, look I’m just here to help you if you need it and let you know when good things are coming.’”
“It also helps to understand Reddit in general,” she added. “It’s changing every day so you have to know what “Banana for Scale” means and “who the real MVP” is to really get the humor of what the guys are bringing to you… and girls, they are a smaller community but they are still there.”
Understanding a community’s ethos before participating is straight out of the basic playbook for social media marketing. But it’s especially important on Reddit, and it’s the key to a savvy brand’s unlocking the potential of a tricky network.