How Not to Market on Reddit

An interesting thing happened last night on /r/entrepreneur, one of my favorite subs. A 14-year old kid posted a homework reminder bot he’d created, and he wanted some feedback from other entrepreneurs.

The app is pretty impressive, and on the marketing site he presents himself as a kid who has been learning to program for 2 years, and built an app to help himself remember to do his homework. Not a bad idea, and the app itself seems pretty slick.

Maybe a little too slick. Take, for example, this quote from none other than Joanna Wiebe:

“Before Christopher Bot, I kept forgetting work I had to do. Even though Christopher Bot is made for students, it works for people in business, like me. I may be out of school, but I rely on it to keep me on track with actions items everyday.” — Joanna Wiebe, CEO @ CopyHackers

That’s a pretty great quote, from a big name in the online marketing game. I was curious, so I asked how he got a quote from Wiebe.

I wake up this morning, check reddit, and see that this post is being destroyed in the comments. Not only that, but the original submission has been deleted (likely because it’s being torn apart in the comments).

Why? The short answer is, reddit is highly allergic to bullshit, and anything that has even the faintest whiff of bullshit.

Turns out the domain is registered to Joanna Wiebe. The same exact post had been spread across 20 different subreddits. And the app had been submitted to ProductHunt.

Some of the more cynical redditors immediately assumed this is all a fake marketing test by Wiebe and/or her team, and maybe they’re right. I think it’s likelier that this kid actually did teach himself to program, had an idea for a bot, and got some marketing help from Wiebe. I’d do the same thing in his shoes, if I had easy access to one of the best marketers in the game.

This whole thing could have been avoided, if the kid (or the people posting, pretending to be a 14 year old kid) had presented the app as something they’d built, and they’d been getting some marketing help from a family member (who just happens to be Joanna Wiebe).

A lot of marketers want to know how to approach marketing on reddit. It’s not a lost cause, but reddit gets a bad rap for being openly hostile to marketing because of stunts like this.

It doesn’t really matter if this really is a dishonest marketing test by an experienced team, because that’s what it looks like. Want to know the trick to successfully promote yourself or your product on reddit? Join a relevant subreddit, contribute to the community, and don’t try to trick anyone.

You know, kind of how good marketing works everywhere.