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Reddit is a veritable goldmine for useful, interesting or downright bizarre content, making it a perfect tool for procrastination.
And one need only take a look at the stories that crop up in the mainstream media in the days after they first appeared on Reddit to see the site’s influence on the news agenda.
But is it any use to publishers seeking to gain additional readers, or social managers looking to drive engagement with a new community?
According to data from SimilarWeb, the UK’s main newspapers get a large proportion of their social referrals from Reddit.
In February Redditors made up 13% of the Daily Mail’s social traffic, while for The Guardian the figure was 30.2%.
However we often see anecdotal evidence to suggest that Reddit users tend to be a bit flakey, so sites see high bounce rates and low engagement from Reddit referrals.
And data published recently by Shareaholic certainly supports that theory. It monitored social traffic across more than 200,000 sites that attract upwards of 250m unique monthly visitors.
The findings reveal that Reddit delivered the highest bounce rate (70.6%) and was among the bottom three performers for time on site and pages per visit.
It’s also worth noting that Google+ and LinkedIn achieved some of the highest engagement rates, though they were the worst performers in terms of overall traffic numbers.
Certainly for Econsultancy we’ve found that Reddit isn’t a particularly valuable source of traffic.
This chart shows our social referral traffic since the beginning of 2014, though it should be noted that we don’t necessarily believe that Google Analytics is entirely accurate when it comes to measuring our social traffic.
Econsultancy’s social traffic January 1 to April 21 2014
As you can see, Reddit is worth just 1.25% of our overall social traffic and achieves the worst average session duration at just 35 seconds.
Reddit also delivers the lowest pageviews per session of 1.52, and data from elsewhere in GA shows that it gives us a bounce rate of 77% compared to around 67% from Twitter.
Obviously this will be affected by our business model and the fact that people don’t necessarily use Reddit for B2B digital marketing content, but it does reveal the limitations of Reddit as a traffic source.
We occasionally see a spike in traffic for a particular post, such as on 12 March when Ben Davis came up with this chestnut commemorating 25 years of the internet, but even then the average time on page from 1,290 sessions was a measly nine seconds.
Econsultancy traffic from Reddit
So other than for PR and awareness, Reddit isn’t much use to Econsultancy.
It’s obviously inadvisable for any business to ignore a potential traffic source simply because it hasn’t worked for other sites, so I’d still advise marketers to test out Reddit to see if it yields decent returns.
Similarly, it depends on your KPIs and what the aims are for your site content. For Econsultancy it’s no use attracting millions of pageviews if the bounce rate averages 99% and nobody sticks around to buy anything.
Plus it seems that Redditors aren't that interested in our particular niche.
However B2C publishers that are primarily interested in driving high volumes of traffic might be less concerned with the low levels of engagement that seem to be a feature of Reddit referrals.
So if traffic is your main goal and you've got some entertaining or salacious content to share, then Reddit might still be the best place for it.