As the leader of your audience, you are in prime position to transform your audience into a community. The difference is that an audience waits for you to speak, while a community talks with each other and creates content spontaneously without your permission.
To transform your audience into a community, you need to give them a platform where they can post and discuss topics related to your brand. The problem is that a forum costs money, resources, and time to build and maintain. The result is a lackluster user experience that does little to inspire your audience.
An alternative to hosting your own forum is to create a subreddit on reddit.com. A subreddit is the free and easy way to create a discussion platform for your audience. With a little commitment, it can become one of the most valuable assets to you and your brand.
If you are still on the fence about using reddit as your community forum, here are five reasons to give it a try.
1. A subreddit is a great discussion platform
Traditional forums sort all topics and replies in chronological order. This means that the newest topic posted will automatically go to the top and any replies to that topic will be list from first to last. This is great if you have a small community where everyone needs to read every post, but that likely isn’t the case for your community.
Reddit organizes content in a different way. It is based on a combination of chronological order and how many up/down votes it receives. This means your reddit community gets to decide which topics and replies (comments) are most visible to the rest of the community by voting things up or down. This makes it much easier for yourself and your community to stay up-to-date with what the community cares about the most. The irrelevant, low-quality, and inappropriate topics will simply be pushed to the bottom of the page.
2. You don’t have to build it or host it
Building and hosting a form is no simple task. You will probably need a web developer to do it for you and maintaining the forum is a job of its own. By using reddit, you outsource the creation, hosting, user registration and other administrative features to reddit.com. This will save you time and money.
3. Tap into the community of redditors
Redditors know how to manage a community and will help you moderate your subreddit. By using reddit as your forum, you can reach out to the people in your audience that have experience with reddit and ask them to help you moderate the content that is posted in your subreddit. These users know how reddit works and will help you maintain a certain level of quality for the content in your subreddit.
We suggest you keep an eye on your subreddit starting out, but eventually you should let your most committed audience members take over and handle most of the moderation tasks. Don’t forget to reward them for their time and effort!
4. You can theme a subreddit to match your branding
The color scheme and general design of your subreddit can be matched to the look and feel of your website. We highly recommend custom-designing your subreddit to make your audience feel at home.
5. Start listening to your audience, efficiently
A traditional contact form, survey, or forum post is not the most efficient way to obtain consensus from your audience about an issue. Not only do you have to take action to engage your audience, you have to process every response created by an audience member. With a subreddit, you can pose a question at any time and your audience will respond, with the best ideas getting voted to the top for your convenience. Additionally, your audience will take the initiative to post a complaint or idea before you ask for feedback. Again, good ideas and complaints will be voted up by the rest of the community and make it to the top of the subreddit, letting you know that you should pay attention.
A subreddit is the difference between receiving 100 emails that repeat the same complaint and seeing only one big thread, backed by community consensus. The transparent nature of reddit makes this possible (everyone can see every else’s posts).
Give reddit a try
If you have an audience that you want to turn into a community, it is time to give reddit a try. Reddit is becoming more and more popular and it is likely that many of your audience members already have an account on reddit. The key is to promote your subreddit on a consistent basis so your audience knows that you are committed to the platform.
Want more? Check out How to Use reddit as an Online Forum, Part 1: Launching the Subreddit.