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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.

In conclusion...

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.

David Moth

Published 22 April, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1676 more posts from this author

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Carmen

Very interesting article. I never thought to use Reddit to gain more traffic. Think I'll need to look into it now - especially as it seems to produce better results than StumbleUpon!

about 2 years ago

Josh Gill

Josh Gill, Digital Marketing Executive at Mediademon

The thing with Reddit is, if users catch wind of anyone trying to build hype or use their community for PR purposes, things can go wrong very quickly. It's a very organic community and if there is interest or traffic to be generated, it will happen naturally. Very little on the internet slips under Reddit's nose anyway.

For an example of how using Reddit to build interest CAN go horribly wrong, you need only look at the Woody Harrelson AMA - http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/p9a1v/im_woody_harrelson_ama

While this is talking more in terms of PR and building hype, using Reddit for personal gain i.e. generating traffic may not be the best way forward. Just an opinion though.

about 2 years ago

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Leslie

I believe that social media traffic in general is less valueable to publishers than search traffic. For my own use, I checked one of my sites where I run adverts a year or so ago. What I found was the highest click on adverts were users that came from search, Bing users above all.

I was looking at the time to get a handle on how much time FB & T were worth. So it was a good excerice to run. Each of the social media users was worth about 60% of a search user. Still not too bad.

about 2 years ago

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Mark Higginson

Am I right in thinking 'average session duration' is only measured for visitors who look at more than one page (or generate an 'engagement hit')?

'Bounce rate' is visitors who don't go on to look at more than one page. This would mean you have no visibility of the time visitors spend on-site who bounce.

A proportion might well be people very interested in what they have landed on, spend time reading, then leave satisfied. This is a 'bounce' but is completely different to someone who leaves immediately.

Those who we do have 'session duration' for may be arriving, not liking what they see, trying another page then departing unsatisfied which means we then erroneously think this timing then applies to all of our visitors from that source.

Better would be to implement event tracking to determine if people are reading the pages they arrive on from a social referral based on time vs. scoll depth.

about 2 years ago

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Hamish

You should change your analytics code. As Mark said in the previous comment if the users don't engage (click any link) then even if they read a 2000 word article for 1 hour it counts as zero time onsite and a bounce.

about 2 years ago

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Takeshi Young

Being popular on Reddit has many more benefits than just the traffic.

A lot of the top blogs use Reddit as a source for content and content ideas. Getting to the front page could get you coverage from other top sites like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, 9Gag, etc. Likewise, many influencers share content from Reddit with their followers, so getting to the front page can get you additional social traffic beyond direct traffic from Reddit.

Links from Reddit are also dofollow, so there is an SEO benefit there as well.

about 2 years ago

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Nora

It’s a goldmine if you can do it correctly!
thanks for the share David

about 2 years ago

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