For the first few years of its existence, Reddit was a distant second to Digg (sometimes third, after StumbleUpon) in the minds of many who sought the page views that came with social bookmarking success.
Of course, many front-page submissions on Digg were on Reddit first (and many Redditors loved to point it out when that happened). And StumbleUpon was such a different animal that it was an outlier of sorts.
Despite the fact that Digg and Reddit were very different communities, theirs was a rivalry that wouldn’t die, it seemed. Digg had the traffic; Reddit had the passion.
And then Digg crashed and burned. Version 4 drove away everyone – the hardcore power users and the everyday users who flocked to the front page.
Reddit became ascendant. Traffic to and from the site skyrocketed.
Reddit had won the War (with apologies to ncomment – wait, no apologies). But would they be able to maintain that lead?
They did, growing exponentially. And then, last week, POTUS on Reddit, doing an IAmA (Reddit parlance for “I Am A … Ask Me Anything”).
This is, pardon the cliche, utterly game-changing.
When the President of the United States (no matter who he or she is) personally shows up on a platform, that means it’s Important. It has the ability to sway public opinion and its users are passionate about keeping it theirs.
That’s why it’s worked.
A post on Digiday after the POTUS IAmA asked what that meant for brands. I thought it was an interesting question, but some of my friends, in comments and on Twitter immediately dismissed it. Brands using Reddit wouldn’t make sense, wouldn’t work.
But, you see, Redditors use AdBlockPlus on every website, except on Reddit. If someone advertises on Reddit, Redditors pay attention. Only, of course, if the ad is appropriate to the community. I’ve spoken with the folks who deal with advertising on the site, and they work with advertisers to make sure that appropriate subReddits are targeted and the ads themselves make sense.
Ads won’t work on Reddit if they aren’t appropriate. And there’s no danger that suddenly brands will start putting ads on there in Flash. Reddit won’t let them.
Will the Obama IAmA bring a slew of advertisers and IAmA wanna-bes to Reddit? It might bring them, but that’s no guarantee that Reddit will take them.
And that’s what will keep Reddit viable. Staying true to itself.
Creative Commons images by ncomment from War 2 of 3.