With social media taking the public relations world by storm, it should be no surprise to anyone that some parties have turned to popular news website Reddit.com to interact with their target publics.
While Reddit is technically a news website containing all types of information, it is driven by user created information, making it about as close to social media as you can get without starting drama.
Well anyways, earlier this year president Barack Obama did an AMA on Reddit. AMA stands for “ask me anything,” and on this forum, Obama answered questions live from everyday Americans who probably would never get a chance to ask something personally to an individual of the president’s stature.
Utilizing tactics like this, the president was able to draw public attention away from the Republic National Convention.
With such a strong and efficient way to reach target publics, why isn’t consumer interaction on sites like Reddit a more often used tactic?
As companies are often called to have a higher degree of transparency, using social media websites can help to work wonders on their political image, but it is important to note a powerful danger that comes with this degree of consumer interaction.
About a year ago, Woody Harrelson did an AMA on Reddit. It is important to remember that AMA stands for “ask me anything,” something Mr. Harrelson forgot to take note of. As his AMA went on, he refused to answer questions that were unrelated to his then new movie “Rampart.” As questions piled up and most of them went unanswered, redditors (people who take part in the Reddit community) started to trash the AMA asking/doing ridiculous things that were almost completely unrelated to Woody, or even Rampart for that matter.
This little debacle tarnished the once popular image of Woody Harrelson on Reddit, which has a notorious record of never forgiving, and never forgetting (much like the online hacktivist group Anonymous).
The reason Reddit is able to have such a strong impact of public perception is through its notorious upvote/downvote system. On Reddit, everything pasted is treated like a comment, and redditors can either upvote or downvote these comments based on whether or not they like what is being said of posted. Posts with high upvotes reach the front page of their respective sub-reddit (the part of the website dedicated to that topic), and reaching the front page makes it so that the post is the first thing other redditors see when they log on to Reddit.
This system makes it so only content approved by the community will ever reach the front page, meaning that have a bad perception of Woody Harrelson could potentially forever condemn him to the sticky pits of downvote-hell where few people will ever get to read his content.
Making it to the front page can result in a massive amount of people viewing the content posted. In Barack Obama’s AMA there are a total of 24,242 comments. In my opinion, you could probably multiple that number by at least 6 to find out the amount of people who got on and read that posts.
As public perception becomes ever more important in the coming years, I know that relying on sites like Reddit for business communication can work to serve wonders for the parties involved.