Growth September 24, 2020

My team validates startup ideas using Reddit that has 1.5B visits a month. It's accurate and fast. Here is how to get started

Ihor Stefurak @opryshok

We launched 5 projects by using this approach, including a "cash cow" Email Verification Add-on and a recently launched micro-saas Silent Inbox.

Here is how I research subreddits and evaluate them for ideas validation.

  • When I have an idea to validate I write down at least 5 keywords related to it. Example terms I used last week: “meditation”, “breathwork”, “breathing technique”, “anxiety”, “stress”. Enter one keyword at a time into the search bar and it will give you a list of subreddits where your keyword is mentioned.

  • Find at least 5 subreddits with people who discussed your topic. Make a copy of my spreadsheet [1]. And collect information about the number of readers. Pro tip: don't waste your time on subreddits with less than 10K readers.

  • Go to Related Subreddits by User Overlap [2]. You need to check every subreddit you found by searching your terms to get more ideas on when your potential audience is hanging out.

  • Read posts within each subreddit to see if people might be interested in your project. Add subjective relevance to the spreadsheet, where 10 is for super relevant subreddit.

  • Once all numbers are added to the spreadsheet, sort your list of subreddits based on the Score it calculates for you.
    Congrats, now you are ready to pick the most relevant subreddits, plan content, write a title, research the best time to post, etc.

If you're keen to learn more about the topic, check out our guide on validating project ideas using Reddit.

  1. 11

    Interesting approach. Thanks for sharing this. But would it make more sense to get involved in that SubReddit first (for the danger of getting banned?), than posting directly about your idea?

    1. 2

      It actually depends on the subs, some are totally ok with it. Some others will trash you :)
      It's more about undertanding how the subs behave, what are the rules than really "being involve".

      1. 1

        Thanks, @anshulsojatia.

        @xavier is right. I'd recommend you to scan top posts from each subreddit for at least 2 days to get vibes. Don't get me wrong but "posting directly about your idea" is always a mistake. But if you come in with great content and a solid title, chances for being banned are small because you bring value.

        I'm working on the "title" topic for the guide right now. The next one will be "good content".

  2. 6

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I have a similar approach. But a little different.

    I've done this for some time now, but the thing I learned is to definitely precipitate before posting anything. I ask myself "why would any of them "give me something" when I haven't "given them anything" in return?" So I contribute as much as I can, and then very gently, not directly, mention the product I'm working on. Some subs definitely allow self-promotion, but most don't because it just ends up being a link farm.

    I would also include these tips for whoever is reading:

    1. reach out to the mods to double check it's okay to post something. One mod told me it's okay if I do it once because it is "helpful content". It was a directory of 150+ podcasting tools, with a link to the notion page (in which there was a link to the full, paid version).
    2. make sure you are a member of that community. Participate. Give back. Sometimes the most meaningful "research" is done here. It's important to not self-promote.
    3. I'd strike up a conversation (make a post) about something that would eventually lead the conversation into the direction of me saying "oh hey btw here's this super handy useful thing I made".

    Maybe it's not as fast, but it's definitely the "safest" ensuring you don't get banned from places, and in general, acquire a bad rep.

    Since I "make friends" I can also direct message them without them either ignoring, flagging me as spam. Instead, they're super excited to talk to me (most of the time). :)

    Hopefully someone finds this helpful.

    1. 2

      I found it helpful @maggieryan thanks for putting it in writing. I think the advice also applies to fb groups. If you're new you don't want to start self-promoting. You want to start marinating in the comments section first and go from there.

      I learned this lesson the hard way and have gotten banned from more than one subreddit/fb group 😅.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the great comment, @maggieryan. And your follow up, @most.

        I think we should define what "self-promotion" is. When I use this phrase I mean a post like this: "Hey /r/subreddit. Here is my new startup. What do you think?" or "We've just launched! I'm looking forward to your feedback" or "I build an app and just published it to App Store."

        Mods don't like this. I don't like it to. But there is another way. And you described it. You should be helpful and post valuable content.

        I published posts about this guide to a few subreddits (as well as a few FB groups and IH itself). And going to do more for the next months. This would be valuable content.

  3. 5

    great guide, thanks for sharing.
    I would also add for those (like me) who wasn't active on reddit. It's worth it to start building your karma there since some sub reddits required a minimum karma to post

    1. 2

      Hum, the subs I know requires 10 karma to post. You don't need to "build" anything, just make some comments and you'll be good to go!

      (and all the "freekarma" places are not really appreciated on serious subs. Don't use them)

      1. 1

        @jamalx31 you are welcome. As @xavier said most of the subs require 10 points to post. Did you find one that requires more?

  4. 3

    Also, fun activity to do on Reddit: search for your competitors and see what people are saying about them and how they're doing their Reddit marketing.

    It's great for seeing how people really feel about particular products.

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing this. Do you type names into search, or what's your tactic?

  5. 3

    Interesting idea, thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Thanks for your feedback @rfitz!

  6. 3

    Nice. Have just signed up for the guide. Is this strategy applicable for emerging topics as well for which the engagement on Reddit might not be that high?

    1. 1

      Thanks, @Wyeem.

      If a topic is emerging, that means you can be a person who starts talking about it on Reddit. That's even better. A dozen great conversations later, you will know what you need and have a basecamp for a project.

  7. 3

    Really great guide, thanks for sharing. I've found that users are pretty candid when it comes to shairng their problems, but can be hard to work with when it comes to deeper research.

    1. 3

      From my point of view, the best conversation happens when a user doesn't know you're doing research.

  8. 2

    Very good tips and growth strategy for B2C ideas. For B2B you're lucky if you find a good subs to test on. Still it's worth the shot.

    Tip for those starting: Validade your idea in interviews, talk directly with potential customers, specially for B2B products. If you can personally or in a video call.

    1. 1

      You are right, @DouglasSchmidt. If you are looking to validate an idea of a product that solves a pain for VPs of Marketing, it's better to go to a conference, cold email them, or make calls. But some hypotheses on products for marketers still worth a shot.

  9. 2

    At first I thought your title was claiming you were getting 1.5 billion visits from reddit per month. 😅

    1. 1

      Same here, maybe it's intentional ;)

      1. 2

        Yeah I wouldn't be surprised, it worked on the two of us :D

        1. 1

          I didn't want to write a clickbait title, lol @gilli, @xavier but now I see. Just rewrote it.

  10. 2

    Thanks for the share. Very insightful!
    I have a question: for the first point, should you search for the subreddits directly from the keyword? Or search the posts that include those keywords and jump to the subs?

    1. 2

      You are welcome @massanishi.

      I would type a keyword into a search bar and spend 10 minutes in results https://www.reddit.com/search/?q=keyword.

      Sometimes I know what subs I will start with. So I will go directly to them. Sometimes I need to figure it out via search.

      You may also visit http://redditlist.com for inspiration.

  11. 2

    Seems pretty handy. Thank you for sharing!

    1. 2

      You are welcome, @eugene0. Let me know if you have any questions.

  12. 2

    Hey, This looks like a great way for idea validation. Thank you for sharing.

    1. 2

      Let me know if you have any questions, @vd!

      1. 2

        The only thing with Reddit is that the audience is very intellectual kind. Hence, you need to be "friendlier" and active before you promote anything. Your approach is great, for sure.

        1. 2

          A better approach is to think not about promoting something but about bringing value.

  13. 2

    Do you have any idea for twitter? or pinterest?

    1. 1

      For Twitter, you @mahayati can set up an alert on https://www.pmalerts.com and jump on each conversation that mentions your keywords. Then participate to turn conversations into a source of insights.

  14. 2

    Very cool idea! I think one should talk to potential customers as there might be a lot of "lurkers" or other people who do not feel comfortable sharing their views on Reddit. But definitely a good approach!

    1. 2

      One post isn't a solution to the problem for sure @JesseJesse. Sometimes you need tens of posts. Sometimes you won't be able to validate what you need. But it's worth trying. Just take a look at this one https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/duplicates/39x78m/i_made_a_site_that_ranks_500_cities_on_cost_of/

      1. 2

        true and thanks for the advice!

        1. 1

          You are welcome. Let me know if you have any questions.

  15. 2

    Love I've been thinking of an effective way to do this on reddit and Quora

  16. 2

    Thanks. Very interesting idea 🙏 I will definitely read the guide

  17. 2

    Thanks @opryshok, just reading the guide now. Good tips.

    1. 1

      You are welcome @mukundmohan. Let me know if you have any questions.

  18. 1

    My framework: Do I HAVE to build this? YES/NO.

    I'm all for idea validation and all that jazz, but in the end of the day I'm building stuff I can't resist building.

    1. 1

      That's a great approach @pklvn. I think of it as of a way for an "artist" who has a source of income.

  19. 1

    There are some pretty specific things that work on Reddit I think. I get an incredibly bad reception, no matter how relevant what I post is/respond to, or how much karma I have.

    An interaction I had last week in an American politics subreddit where I have hundreds of posts (I made a Made in USA filter for Amazon).

    User - "China is pissing me off, I try really hard to not buy stuff from there."
    Me - "Ya It's unacceptable what they are doing, I've been boycotting them for a year now, it's not that hard."
    User - "Oh ya, how do you do it?"
    Me - "I ended up building a little app to help"

    First 3 messages all upvoted quite a bit, and the last message ended up with negative karma.

    The users I have gotten from Reddit are great, they love to give feedback.

    1. 1

      Phrasing is so important on Reddit. Did you ever write a comment where you promoted your thing that performed equally well?

      1. 2

        Nah it's never done as well as I would like. Before starting the project I talked with mods of the most relevant subreddit, they were really excited. However after we made it they changed their minds. They hate me, I don't know how to explain it beyond that. I mentioned the extension 3-4 times, while directly questioned about it. They went and deleted half my posts in the subreddit, around 100 posts, and shadow banned me. If any user of our product posts it, they appear to get shadow banned too.

        Our other issue is the product, it's a Chrome extension only. So since we only have a solution for ~20% of the people who will run across it organically it both makes it way less efficient and much harder. People click it, see they can't use it and then downvote or complain.

        I get minor traction when I post it responding to connected things, but for the reasons above and product issues it's never gotten anywhere near the love I feel it deserves, as we have by far the best solution for a problem that people complain about non-stop, though our solution isn't perfect.

        1. 1

          Thanks for the input, @PayOffWizard.

          If you built the tool already and it is politics-related, then get attention from media. Write a story and pitch journalists/bloggers instead.

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