Running a subreddit can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can make it thrive.
Whether you are moderating existing communities or starting a new one, this guide will give you the tools you need to grow your subreddit successfully.
1. Find Your Niche
Before you do anything else, figure out what sets your subreddit apart.
The name is crucial, as one Reddit user pointed out.
Make sure it’s short, catchy, and relevant to your community’s focus.
For example, r/lastimages.
If you find that the perfect name is already taken, but the subreddit is inactive, you can request to take over it through r/redditrequest.
2. Enhance Your Subreddit’s Appearance
Ensure your subreddit is fully decked out with a banner, icon, description, rules, flairs, and even wiki pages if they could be helpful.
I’ve noticed more people are willing to join a well-rounded subreddit. That means you’ll need to create a unique icon and banner. If you’re good with photo editing, you can do it yourself. Otherwise, you can visit places like r/SubredditIcons to get someone else to do it for you or get them for free on Flat Icon.
Here are some icon ideas you might like:
- Personalize a Snoo (Reddit’s mascot) to match your subreddit’s theme. Lots of subreddits do this, like r/BuyItForLife.
- If your subreddit is related to a brand, game, or company, use their logo or a modified version of it. For example, r/Photoshop uses its brand logo.
- When all else fails, just pick a cool font and abbreviate your subreddit’s name against a catchy backdrop. It’s not my best recommendation, but sometimes it’s the best you can do.
3. Post Your Content
Having content ready at launch is key. It’s not just about having things to look at; it’s also about demonstrating the type of content you’d like to see.
If your subreddit has a small following and you’re having trouble getting people to post, it’s important for you to take the lead and start posting yourself.
Aim to post a few times a week, depending on the level of effort required for the content.
By creating quality posts, you can encourage others to contribute to your community by demonstrating the type of content that is expected.
4. Kickstart Your Subreddit with Alt Accounts
So, you’ve set up your subreddit, but it’s looking a bit lonely in there, right? Don’t worry; there’s a trick you can use to make your space seem more lively and attractive to newcomers. Many subreddit creators employ multiple Reddit accounts to populate their new community with content and interactions.
You see, when people visit a subreddit and find it active with posts and discussions, they’re more likely to join and contribute. An empty subreddit, on the other hand, can feel like a ghost town, discouraging new memberships.
Here’s what you can do:
- Buy Alternative Reddit Accounts: These shouldn’t be blatant clones but should have diverse opinions and tones. This way, they can provide varied responses and discussions. Take a look at RedAccs Store.
- Quality Over Quantity: Even though you’re ‘faking’ the initial activity, you still want to post quality content that would naturally interest your target audience.
- Interact Naturally: Use your multiple accounts to interact in a manner that appears genuine. Upvote posts, reply to comments, and create a narrative that feels true to your subreddit’s theme.
- No Overkill: Don’t go overboard with the number of accounts or activity. The goal is to make the subreddit appear active but not spammy.
- Transition Gradually: As real users start joining and contributing, gradually lessen the activity from your alternate accounts. This allows for a seamless transition from ‘staged’ to ‘organic’ activity.
Please note that while this strategy can help to jump-start your community, it should only serve as a temporary measure. The end goal should always be to build a genuinely active and engaged community.
5. Learn to use CrossPost
As a moderator, it can be helpful to find subreddits that share similar interests to the one you moderate. Whenever you come across a high-quality and engaging post on your subreddit, consider crossposting it to other related subreddits.
This could also include any posts you have made yourself, as mentioned in tip above.
For instance, I moderate r/MinecraftMeme, which has grown significantly since I started moderating it a few years ago with only 100 members. By crossposting to other Minecraft subreddits, we were able to attract almost 1m members.
However, it’s important to be mindful not to overdo it and dominate another subreddit with crossposts from your own community.
Read more: How to use CrossPost on Reddit.
6. Mention Subreddits in the comment section
This growth tactic is pretty popular but mainly suits specific kinds of communities. Some subreddits get big primarily because they have catchy names that are easy to drop in comments.
If your subreddit’s name is comment-friendly, this strategy can work wonders.
Encourage your followers to do the same. Many subreddits gain quick recognition this way.
Successful examples include r/cursedcomments, r/hmmm, r/enoughinternet, r/HolUp, etc.
Don’t just plop down your subreddit name as a comment, though. Add a little context or flair to it.
For instance, instead of just commenting “r/subreddit,” try “This totally feels like a r/hmmm moment.”
7. Utilize Sidebar Widgets
Add tags and related subreddits using sidebar widgets. A Reddit user was confused about where to find this option. To clarify, you’ll find it under MOD TOOLS, then “Community Topics” for tags and “Community Appearance” then “Sidebar Widgets” for related communities.
Reddit gives mods the tools to tag their subreddits and showcase similar ones in a sidebar widget. Don’t skip out on these features.
Tagging your subreddit appropriately can help attract members from like-minded communities. The related subreddits section functions similarly. You can also send a modmail to other subreddits to see if they’ll feature yours in their related section.
While I’ve had mixed results with this—some mods either ignored me or said they’d do it but didn’t—it’s worth a shot.
Just remember to be courteous when you ask.
8. Get the Right Moderation Team
Simply, follow Moddiquette by not being too controlling.
It’s important to stay active in your community and commenting on users’ posts.
You can just set few rules but enforce the users when necessary.
You don’t want to remove too many posts, but you also don’t want total chaos. Strive for a balance.
Avoid finding new moderators on subreddits like r/NeedAMod, as they may lose interest quickly. Make sure your mod team is dedicated to the subreddit and not just there for the sake of it.
Have at least one other moderator to share responsibilities and bounce ideas off each other.
One Reddit user stated that a good moderation team was essential for growth and even said that their subreddit essentially ran on autopilot because it had such a good team.
9. Make sure your subreddit supports Old Reddit Theme
Did you know that less than 10% of Reddit’s audience use the Old Reddit Theme?
However, if you believe that even this small group is worth targeting, you may want to consider enhancing the appearance of your subreddit for Old Reddit.
Don’t worry if you lack coding skills, as there are subreddits that provide user-friendly Old Reddit themes.
My personal favorite is this Stylesheet Library, but feel free to choose one that suits your preferences.
Keep in mind that the process may require some time and effort, so be sure to weigh the potential benefits against the costs.
10. Promote Subreddits on Other Platforms
You may consider creating dedicated accounts for your subreddit on these platforms and use 3rd party app such as dlvrit.com to automate the process.
However, expanding your presence on other platforms is a separate topic that requires additional effort. You can apply some of the previous tips with some minor adjustments to improve your growth on these platforms.
Additionally, once your subreddit has a substantial number of subscribers, it may be beneficial to establish a Discord server.
11. Host Contests for Big Subreddits
If You Run a Bigger Subreddit, Why Not Host a Contest?
For smaller communities, a contest might not work because there aren’t enough people to participate. But if your subreddit is mid-sized or larger, a contest can create buzz. You might run a “Best Post of the Month” contest with a small cash prize or something else appealing.
Graphic design contests, like redesigning the subreddit’s icon or banner, can also be fun. Winners could get special user flairs as a bonus.
Some larger subreddits, like r/starwars, even sell merch. I can’t say for sure how successful it is, but it’s an option worth considering—just make sure the profits are used for the community, not your personal gain.
12. If Your Subreddit Doesn’t Have Quality Content, The Strategies Above Won’t Save It
Your subreddit might be doomed from the start if it’s not built on a solid concept. Here are some red flags to look out for:
- A popular subreddit already tackles your topic.
- Your niche is too narrow to build a real community around.
- The subreddit mainly serves as a comment space.
- You’re not personally interested in the subreddit’s theme. If that’s the case, how committed will you be to making it succeed? Some folks just crave the mod power, it seems.
13. Balance Quality and Growth
As your subreddit grows, you may face the dilemma of sacrificing quality for growth.
Some subs lose their initial appeal as they grow and get cluttered with off-topic posts.
The trick is to find a balance; be a bit flexible with content but don’t let it stray too far from the subreddit’s core idea.
Bigger isn’t always better. It varies depending on your goals and the niche of your subreddit.
14. Prepare for Searchability
In long term, your content should be searchable.
A subreddit needs a critical mass of posts that are worth talking about and searchable.
Make sure to use relevant keywords and tags.
In a nutshell, running a successful subreddit isn’t just about setting it up and hoping for the best. It demands thought, effort, and ongoing involvement. From choosing the right name to enhancing the visual appeal, each step contributes to your subreddit’s growth and longevity.
Get active, engage with your community, make smart crossposts, and don’t forget to keep up with even the small things, like sidebar widgets and Old Reddit Theme.
With these strategies in your toolbelt, you’re well on your way to creating a subreddit that not only exists but thrives.