Arrived in Varanasi.

In India for two weeks

I took two weeks off from work and came to India. Im spending my mornings for exploration and sightseeing, then allocating the rest of my day to programming. Its worked out pretty well today.

Im in Mumbai until tomorrow. I did a lot of walking around in the Bandra and South Mumbai area. Im going to Delhi tomorrow and will do the rounds (Taj Mahal, Fort Agra, etc). Im going to find a way to see the Himalayas with my own eyes. Them Im going to a UNESCO sight called Hampi. While Im here, the Diwali holiday is being celebrated.

When I travel, I do a lot of instagramming. Taking pictures and such here: http://instagram.com/rememberlenny

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Comparing audiences

Im using Reddit to vet audiences. Over the last three days, I tried sharing a link to graffpass.com. Unconciously, I chose the largest group first and moved my way to the smaller audiences: /r/graffiti (~55,000), /r/streetart (~24,000), /r/blackbookgraffiti (~7000). The smallest audience ended up being the most engaged. Each subreddit focuses on sharing graffiti pictures, but the aesthetic is different. /r/graffiti is the most main stream, /r/streetart is a bit further away, and /r/blackbookgraffiti is primarily artists themselves.

I noticed a significant higher level of engagement on the /r/blackbookgraffiti. I received much higher traffic, more upvotes, and comments. This could be because the link was visible for longer, but I think it’s because the product appeals to this audience. For the past few weeks, I have been pursuing the graffiti-consuming (not graffiti-creating) community. I may have been misled, because the /r/blackbookgraffiti community is definitely a graffiti-creating group.

Email intro

Last month, I started looking asking friends to introduce me to hardware hackers and artists who do digital installations. A few Twitter contacts replied back with suggested people to take a look at. I got an email introduction to one engineer who recently moved to New York. Without realizing it in the moment, I had seen his blog posts and github account months before.

We got breakfast together two weeks ago and have since been exchanging links via a google doc. Through the broad but topically specific request to my network, I have been able to meet a collaborator.

Subreddits as market research

Twitter, Facebook, Google Ads - these are all platforms many of us use to promote our product, but did you know that there is a site that you can get just as much visibility in addition to feedback on your product..at no cost? Enter Reddit - one of most trafficked websites on the entire web. I’ve been using Reddit recently to test out ideas amongst audiences that self-identify interests. Facebook and Twitter ads are expensive. Reddit lets you do topic oriented targeting. Reddit

HOW TO START USING REDDIT

The goal on Reddit is to get your link to be voted up. The more votes a link gets, the more likely it will appear on a subreddits homepage. The longer the link is on the subreddits homepage, the greater the social reach. For every subreddit homepage a link is on, the more likely that a user’s default homepage will also have the link.

Subreddits publicly state how many users are registered. They also say how many people are looking at content on the subreddit at any moment. This means, you can roughly estimate the social reach your link may have. For example, the /r/learnprogramming subreddit may have 600,000 subscribed users. Among these subscribed users, 500 to 5000 people may be looking at the subreddit at any moment.

When you circulate a link on Facebook or Twitter, you can only reachyour friends. Facebook’s algorithm restricts who can see posts. Twitter is also limited. Twitter posts will quickly get buried in the newest content. The exposure your content actually receives is very limited. Your reach is directly correlated to the amount of money you spend. The less money you spend, the less exposure you get. You can throttle your ad spend, by creating a daily cap, but this brings up the algorithmic issue with opaque content circulation.

The sponsored content platforms resolve this issue by creating artificially positioned posts. The posts are targeted based on the metrics offered by the social network. Twitter’s sponsored content buyers can target based on a user’s twitter followers. For example, in trying to reach tech savvy users, you can target people who follow TechCrunch or HackerNews. Facebook’s ad network operates by allowing ad buyers to target specific demographic metrics.

Reddit allows you to do this effectively for free. The posts you put up are subject to the same algorithmic chance as all other posts. There is no prefered weighting on new links. You can use the traditional methods of Reddit to gain visibility for your links. For each vote that your link gets, the higher it rises in the list ranking. By achieving a higher ranking, your link will sustain is ranking in the subreddit. The sustained ranking directly translates to quantifiable social reach. In most cases, this means real traffic driven to your site.

Compared to a sponsored post or paid ad campaign on Facebook or Twitter, the Reddit approach allows for your link to go through a natural progression. Your link will grow and die based on the communities’ genuine interest. This means that you will not prematurely end your campaign based on your campaign budget size.

TRACKING RESULTS

Reddit doesn’t have pretty data analysis tools for understanding a links social reach. You can estimate the effectiveness of your links through the subreddits public user presence numbers. As mentioned above, subreddits publicly share their subscriber and currently active user numbers. You can contrast this data against the positioning of your link, the length in which the link was visible, and the ranking that it received. If you wanted to get very detailed, you could do a study of the subreddit before launching your link and roughly estimate the lifespan of a link on the homepage.

You can combine this value with responses from Google Analytics. If you tag your link with a query parameter or ref code, you can identify the traffic generated from the Reddit links. By using ref query parameters, Google Analytics will register the traffic as a unique endpoint. This will allow you to identify the differences between campaigns you may run to the same landing page.

The Reddit algorithm increases visibility of links with early votes. To help your link gain visibility, you can coordinate upvotes by circulating your Reddit posting amongst friends. By having a few initial upvotes, your post will gain the visibility it needs to gain natural traction in any community. Without an initial push, your link will most likely go unrecognized by the greater community. The link circulation practice helps your link get out of the “New” posts page and get onto the lower part of the subreddits front page.