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September 26, 2016

Mayo Clinic’s Strategy for Engaging with User Posts on Reddit

By Shea Jennings, Communications Associate

reddit-logoTime to confess: I spend a few hours every week browsing reddit at work. And I think you should, too.

In fact, we think that reddit, when approached wisely, can be an important part of any social media strategy. That’s because reddit is far more than endless conspiracy theories and pictures of cats. It’s an extremely powerful content amalgamator.

How reddit works

Here’s how it works. The site is organized into discussion areas, or subreddits, on specific topics like fitness. Users (redditors) can submit original and external content for other users to comment and vote on in subreddits. Discussion is ample: in 2015 the site reported 82.54 billion page views and 725.85 million comments made by 8.7 million total authors.

If content is out there, redditors are likely talking about it – because they’re talking about almost everything.

Reddit is a top-five source of traffic to Mayo Clinic websites

That includes our own content, as we’ve discovered. When we looked at referral data, we found that reddit was a top-five source of traffic to Mayo Clinic websites. Native keyword searches turned up discussion threads about patient experiences, costs of care, research breakthroughs, healthy habits recommended by our physicians, and so on.

Users were asking important questions about our content, and not getting answers. We needed to respond to these conversations – and to increase the organic engagement we were already seeing.

Our strategy for engaging with user posts on reddit

So we’ve recently developed a strategy for actively monitoring and engaging with user posts on reddit. Here are some takeaways:

Start listening now

Conversations about your organization could already be happening on reddit. Start paying attention! We monitor a few times a week to check for mentions and links to our content. The more we listen, the more we learn about our reddit audience and their opinions of us.

Pro tips:

  • Find links to your content by replacing the end of this URL with your domain:
  • Follow relevant subreddits (e.g. diabetes, cancer, fitness) to keep an eye on popular posts.

Be a human

The best way to engage with redditors is to behave like one yourself. Above all, you should avoid using reddit as simply another means to push out content. Redditors use the site to interact with others and share information that is valuable and relevant – not to market themselves. (Look at what happened when actor Woody Harrelson tried to use a Q&A session to hawk his upcoming movie.)

Pro tips:

  • Before you affiliate your reddit username with your organization, practice using reddit for yourself. Join subreddits matching your own interests, and try posting. Get comfortable with reddit’s culture and etiquette.
  • When you start monitoring for your organization, act as an individual, not an institution. For example, choose Shea_MayoClinic rather than MayoClinic as your username. (Note: reddit usernames can’t be changed, so consider creating separate personal and professional accounts.) Use first-person pronouns, and avoid canned or templated responses.

Think before you (re)act

The safest way to leverage reddit for your organization’s business goals is to participate in conversations, not curate them. Sometimes that means replying to a question about affordability of care with the number of your patient services office, or posting a direct link to a press release in response to a discussion on celiac disease. More often, it means expressing sympathy and support, or saying nothing at all. Remember, you’re engaging on reddit to have conversations and be genuinely helpful – not to self-promote.

Pro tips:

  • Link to your content only when directly relevant.
  • When you do share links, give more than just the URL – explain how the information answers the user’s question or meets their needs.
  • Invite users to send you a private message if they have questions or concerns best handled privately.

Participation is the key

Redditors are most likely to engage with your content and brand if you pay attention to what’s happening in the community, and respond appropriately and helpfully. With that in mind, happy redditing!

Shea Jennings is a Communications Associate at Mayo Clinic and a member of the Social and Digital Innovation Team.

Tags: Platforms, Software, & Tools, reddit

Liked by Sheri Donaldson, Dan Hinmon, MCSMN Director


Susan Buckles

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 08, 2016
Posted by @susanbuckles, Oct 19, 2016

Nice article! I will check it out to see if this would fit in with our social media strategy.

Posted by @MarieEnnisOConnor, Fri, Feb 9 9:53am

@audreylaine @csjennings I’m curious to know if Reddit is still part of your core communications strategy?

Posted by @csjennings, Fri, Feb 9 9:57am

@MarieEnnisOConnor We don’t actively post there, but I do monitor it on a weekly basis for mentions of Mayo Clinic. @MakalaArce also tracks it as a source of appointment requests. So not part of the core comms strategy…more on the periphery.

Posted by @MarieEnnisOConnor, Fri, Feb 9 10:00am

Thanks for your super-fast response Shea. I want to include a mention of Reddit in my MCSMN webinar this month and I like to illustrate examples with best practice k- is it still driving traffic to the website?

Posted by @csjennings, Fri, Feb 9 10:07am

@MarieEnnisOConnor Yes, it is, particularly when we have a newsworthy study published or a reddit user asks a question about personal health and another user links to a Mayo website. @MakalaArce can perhaps give more specific details, but reddit almost always appears among the quarterly top 10-15 sources of digital appointment requests.


Posts: 89
Joined: Jan 31, 2011
Posted by @MakalaArce, Fri, Feb 9 10:24am

@MarieEnnisOConnor And it is even sometimes among the top 5 for social referrals to (unrelated to appt requests)

Posted by @MarieEnnisOConnor, Fri, Feb 9 10:21am

Thanks so much – good to know this.

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