Part 2: Reddit vs. Facebook & Other Social Media
Part 2 – Reddit vs. Facebook & Other Social Media
User Bases: Reddit vs. Facebook
Reddit’s user base, known as Redditors, is different than Facebook’s, Instagram’s and Twitter’s in many ways. On Reddit, users create a persona. A persona that is quite often detached from your real life and well hidden under your username. The only thing you can know about a Redditor is their username and posting history. What makes it special is the level of anonymity that Redditors enjoy.
On the bigger subreddits, that level of anonymity is very apparent. Your comment can be lost in the thousands of other comments if it is not upvoted enough. No matter who you are in the world, no matter if you are popular or rich, every comment is judged on the same level.
This very democratic system makes Reddit a place where everyone speaks their mind and where popular opinions (or great puns) are upvoted. It also encourages people with “stupid questions” to ask them without the fear of being judged.
One could argue that anonymity can also bring out the worst in people because of the lack of direct consequences. There certainly is an argument here. Fortunately, most of Reddit’s front page is composed of world news, political debates and funny posts. Some dark corners of 4chan, an even more anonymous social media, have often been criticised for their users’ inflammatory speech.
On the other hand, on the smaller subreddits, if someone’s an active and appreciated user, their comments will have more weight. Small subreddits can form relationships between users. When a Redditor sees something that their friend would like, they will tag them in that post, waiting for their answer. Some subreddits will also put a flair (as shown below) on some users if they did something outstanding and that flair, visible by all users, will carry some weight and respect.
In this case, taken from r/dataisbeautiful, you can see that the user has been marked with the “Original Content” flair. This means that they produced 46 original graphs and tables of statistics.
The lack of anonymity on Facebook and other popular social media create an environment where everything is public. When everything you write is associated with your person, people tend to stay silent more often or just go with the popular opinion.
Another problem is that Facebook users will often blindly trust anything posted by someone they know. The whole fake news problem originated from social media users lack of due diligence. On Reddit, users will dig a little deeper and only trust reliable sources of information. Fake news is always downvoted and Redditors who shed light on those posts, upvoted.
This being said, you can also notice a real difference between the demographics of each platform. Reddit tends to be more of a homogeneous platform than Facebook or Twitter. The big persona of a Redditor would be a Caucasian male between 18 and 29 years old with a college degree and relatively Liberal political views. Here are some stats on the Reddit user base:
On other social media, women are generally a lot more present than on Reddit and the user bases are also less homogeneous.
Reddit is mostly popular in the United States, in Canada and in the United Kingdom.
Facebook is better spread around the globe with the US only representing 24% of its audience:
How users interact on the platform
A key difference between Reddit and other platforms is that Reddit truly values originality. Reposts are downvoted and Reddit itself won’t allow you to post to often. Moderators will also delete reposts or news and jokes that have already been shared.
On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is common practice to post a few times everyday. So much information is shared every minute on these platforms and not much care is given into anything past a like or share.
Facebook puts your friends and your interactions with them first. It is a social media that aims to connect people. Reddit wants its users to react to the posts firstly. The interaction between users is mostly focused on the posts themselves and Redditors will give the post all their attention.
A great example of the difference between how users interact differently on Facebook and Reddit is the whole fake news scandal. Facebook changed its algorithm to filter out people who share too many fake news. On the other hand, Reddit does not need to install this kind of mechanism. In most cases and subreddits, Redditors will verify stories and downvote the fake or not reliable ones. Reddit even has its own whistle blowing subreddit: r/fakenews. In other cases, subreddits can also spread fake news. However, those posts are very unlikely to make it to r/popular.
How brands are perceived
Facebook’s changes to its algorithm keep promoting more and more brands. Ads are blended into the content and every company has a page with its thousands of subscribers. When a company posts something promotional, people will likely interact with it in a positive way or just scroll past it. It is safe to say that companies, big and small, are well perceived on Facebook and, even, are expected to be on the platform nowadays.
Redditors are less welcoming of promoted content. Reddit has its discreet advertisement program. On desktop, it puts one clearly identified promoted post on top of the page and some Adsense banner spaces on the right. On mobile, every 10th post or so is sponsored and is, again, clearly identified as such. Native advertising is usually discovered by Redditors and downvoted quite rapidly. Redditors are also known for holding grudges on brands with dishonest marketing efforts. Here is what u/Akial had to say about another Redditor’s case study on how to market on Reddit:
He summarized really well what Redditors hate about self promotion. Reddit values honesty and transparency. Too often, marketing efforts are not all about honesty and transparency but on Reddit, they have to be.
A recent and great example of this is an attempt made by FilmsJackets on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. subreddit. Redditors found out that the original poster was the owner of Filmsjacket and that he immediately deleted his account after this was pointed out. While some comments were made about the overall quality of the cosplay, most of them were about the blatant ad campaign.