This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has spent time on leading link aggregator Reddit, but a certain kind of content tends to play well there. One guy apparently decided to see just how easy it might be to purposefully direct Reddit’s traffic firehose toward selected content.
In a post published Sunday morning, the blogger behind /FOO/: Fire One Out claimed it wasn’t a lot of work.
By any standard, his experiment was a success:
Overall stats for quarter from Reddit experiment:
Top performing post (cliff edge) was #1 all of Reddit for 6 hours
4/20 posts made front page of Reddit
20% success rate (posts that hit front page)
65,127 total upvotes
57,835 total down votes
2,718,466 image views
Total time spent on project (aside from taking pictures): about 20 minutes to post images/witty titles.
FOO had some conclusions about why his experiment was so successful, writing that the “[odds] of reaching the front page dramatically increase if you understand how and why content trends.”
One image, he notes, trended because it “touched on the fear of heights.”
While the photo wasn’t really all that scary, the title he chose–“My friend won’t approach cliff edges because he says the risk isn’t worth it. This is how he looks over, every time.”–combined with the image “spurred audience reaction.”
Fire One Out’s blogger posted to Reddit under screen names “ZackBigDog” and “Gladiator_Kitty.” Using “Gladiator_Kitty” he posted his blog entry about the experiment on the Technology subreddit.
Redditors, hypersensitive as any Internet community might be to the feeling they’ve been played, didn’t have warm and fuzzy responses to the disclosure:
Fire One Out’s blogger (he gives his first name as “Zack” on his locked Twitter account) is pretty clear about what he’s up to by writing at the beginning of his post, “Content marketing is sweet.” At least one Redditor felt he’d done the community a favor, saying, “[...] it’s quite nice from him to disclose how he played reddit (even it is for advertising services).”