The popular online community Reddit will soon launch various "branded communities" in order for companies to interact with customers and learn how to improve their products, according to an interview with Reddit's General Manager.
Forget focus groups, Reddit's Erik Martin says. Companies should look online for powerful ways to reach their customers, especially people with ideas to help the brand.
"Reddit has a very opinionated and technologically savvy community who believe in fixing problems when they see them," says Martin. He says these branded Reddit sites may be private or public, depending what the brand requests. Working with Sequentia Environics on this initiative, Martin says the project will launch "sometime later in 2011" but wasn't able to give a specific date.
Martin envisions the sites as ideal venues for brands to engage with customers who are unafraid to share their opinions. Also, Reddit members flock to the site continuously - one-third of redditors visit the site 200 times a month, Martin says. It attracts 1.2 billion pageviews a month.
Martin doesn't list specific companies signing up for the Reddit treatment but says "interest has been high". He said sectors ideal for these communities include financial and travel services, consumer electronics and media.
"This will truly allow people to talk to brands directly, instead of conversations on Facebook and Twitter," Martin notes. He says when a brand's community manager reads a tweet about their product, then what? Replying to people is all well and good, but he views those efforts as "marketing disguised as conversation." Martin thinks curating conversations on Reddit will harness the community's passion and dedication.
What about potential backlash if the Reddit community don't like seeing companies touching down in their online hub? "Redditors want to share their opinions so we're making it easy for them to do that," Martin says. "But we never know, branded communities could raise some hackles on Reddit."
In a press release, Jen Evans, founder and Chief Strategist of Sequentia Environics, explained why her firm is working with Reddit: "We are excited to partner with Reddit to give their members opportunities to influence the leading companies in every industry, and give these companies a direct dialogue with the Reddit community.”
Disclosure: Evans is also an adviser to Digital Journal. For more information on Web, technology and business trends affecting media, visit our sister site Future of Media.