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Don't get downvoted – some tips for promoting your indie game on Reddit

The ever-shifting landscape of Reddit holds many opportunities and pitfalls for those who decide to promote their game on it. Find out some of the dos and don'ts in this blog.

Reading time: 3 min 8 sec

When I was deciding whether to write a piece about Reddit, I wasn't sure if I'd accumulated enough knowledge to do it. That was some time and several projects ago. Today, I still don't know enough, and I'm convinced I never will.

A post that could get to the top of one subreddit can get you banned on another — and I'm not even talking about political stuff here. Heck, even something that could be trending on Monday can get deleted if posted on Wednesday.

With that said, I'm not pretending these tips will reveal some ground-breaking, sure-fire way to get posts about your game to the top. They are just observations I made while using the platform as a marketing tool.

Without further ado, here are my findings:

 

#1 Don't promote your game on Reddit

No, seriously, when thinking about Reddit, don't think of Facebook-style posts, commercials, or the usual advertising shtick. Going with a title — "My game is coming to Steam, check the description for a Wishlist link" — will most likely achieve one of the following:

  1. Your post will get ignored (best case scenario)
  2. It will get deleted by moderators
  3. It will get downvoted to oblivion
  4. Your account will get a ban from the subreddit (worst case scenario)

Even if you try surreptitious advertising, massaging your words, or toning them down, the Redditors are a smart bunch, and they will see through it. So don't advertise.

Instead, remember this; "show, but don't sell." People understand you are trying to promote your game if you post about it on r/indiegames. But try not to shove CTA-s down their throats. Showcase your game, your progress, art, assets, music, etc. If you spark interest with those, the subreddit will ask you for links to find out more.

 

#2 Give before asking something in return

I've read somewhere subreddits are like a big party. You can't just come to one and start talking about yourself all the time. You have to meet the party-goers first, talk to them, give them a few compliments, and only then start telling them about yourself.

A similar principle applies to most subreddits. Before showing your content, observe the sub for some time. Chime in with comments, genuine questions, and compliments on other posts. Learn what people on that sub like and dislike. Not only will you reduce the chances of your content going down the drain, but you will also learn how to shape your posts to get the most out of them.

 

#3 Read the subreddit rules at least ten times

Even after all that reading, you might still be breaking the rules. Or the moderators will be trigger happy that day.

Reddit as a whole has a set of general rules all subreddits have to comply with, the usual corporate stuff. However, every subreddit has a subset of its own rules. These rules are pretty straightforward and simple to follow. But sometimes, they can be ambiguous and left for open interpretation by the moderators. If they decide your post — for whatever reason — is not in line with the rules, say bye-bye to it. Some subs employ auto-moderators, bots that automatically delete content if it doesn't meet the requirements (such as karma count, account age, containing forbidden words, etc.).

In any case, if you are new to the sub and haven't read the rules carefully, get ready to see your content deleted, but don't take it to heart. Re-read the rules, remake the post, and try again after some time. If it keeps getting deleted, maybe you aren't meeting the requirements, or that sub just isn't suited for whatever you're trying to show.

 

#4 Don't expect much out of Reddit

Your posts are doing well. They are going to the top of the sub, receiving only positive comments. Yet, you are getting little traffic coming from Reddit. Why is that?

Redditors are like bees in a meadow full of pretty flowers of all shapes and colors. They like to explore every single flower, not go on another field where only your flowers grow.

So, don't have high hopes for a substantial CTR from Reddit. However, if your content does well, that's great for visibility. You also have a chance certain people of interest will stumble upon your posts. Many journalists from big gaming media are avid Redditors, as are some content creators from YouTube and Twitch. Even if none of them find you directly, their fans might. They can then draw the spotlight to you.

And that's it. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Here's a tl;dr version: Be human, show — don't sell, respect the rules, don't expect much, but expect the unexpected.


This blog is written by Luka Plesa, a communication expert from Strategy Spellbook. If you are a developer or a studio looking to promote your upcoming game, you can reach Luka via email at [email protected] or poke him on Twitter.

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