Whether they want to admit it or not, Reddit was once the ultimate “hipster” site. No, it wasn’t/isn’t populated by people who wearing horn-rim glasses and skinny jeans carrying around graphic novels in their hemp knapsacks. It was hipster because it was only cool to those lucky few who knew about it. The site normally broke EVERYTHING first to the point that when people saw something for the first time on Twitter or Facebook, Redditors could say, “Oh, I saw that on Reddit last week.”
Then, Digg V4 happened. Since then, the traffic has gone up tremendously.
Quantcast reports that Reddit has jumped from around 2 million unique monthly visitors per month to over 15 million. Their numbers are normally around half of reality, so the site is likely getting over 30 million unique visitors per month.
They aren’t just quick checkups, either. According to Alexa, the pageviews per visitor are also rising steadily, peaking right now at an incredible 10+ pageviews per visit. By comparison, social offbeat news aggregator Fark hovers around 4.
How did the site become one of the top traffic sites on the internet so quickly while apparently not trying?
Digg V4 Helped
If Digg users had not heard of Reddit before V4 was launched last August, they certainly heard of it shortly after the launch. During a 4-day period at the end of August, 2010, Reddit stories owned Digg. Nearly all of the top stories during this time were actually links to Reddit submissions.
Please forgive the long screenshot below, but it’s important to understand exactly how Reddit blasted the Digg front page at this time:
While Digg’s switch to V4 had an affect, it was nothing more than a catalyst. What happened next got the ball truly rolling for Reddit.
“Holy crap, the content is great”
There were eye-opening experiences happening all over Reddit during the last months of the year. New users were finding out what old users have known for a while – the content is really THAT good. Unlike other sites where quality is often not the only factor in something going viral, on Reddit, quality is everything. It’s not guaranteed that something of high quality will make it on Reddit, but it’s absolutely guaranteed that something of low quality will be destroyed there.
The community is the most passionate out there. The demographics (discussed below) are tight and the users are everything negative about the internet: cynical, skeptical, hateful, and trollish. These traits, while annoying to much of the internet, make the site work. If a user posts something not worthy, they are told so. The story has no chance of moving up and will likely draw the original poster negative comments and ridicule.
The result of this type of community is that the stuff that makes it to the top likely deserves to be there. A Mashable story may be able to get 1000 automated tweets, but if it’s not a good story, it can easily get negative points on Reddit. “Gaming the system” is nearly impossible for spammers. Those who are able to be successful at it are eventually caught and unmasked.
“I’m just here for the comments/self posts”
For many, it’s the comments that make the site. Every day, some posts are able to get hundreds, even thousands of comments. It’s not just about the submission. Sometimes, the discussion within the comments is livelier than the original content itself.
There is a certain level of pride that goes into the comments. Reddit tracks comment “karma” that is based upon positive and negative votes received by the commenter. The best comments move to the top and the threads can be epic.
Sometimes, the best discussions don’t even need supporting content. “Self posts” are statements made or stories shared by users. Sometimes, it’s people ranting. Other times, it’s people commenting about other Redditors. These are often the most entertaining to see and truly exemplify the community.
The Tipping Point: Exposure
Whether long-time users like it or not, Reddit has hit a tipping point. More people are on the site, which means that more people are coming. As they tell their friends and relatives about the site, it will continue to grow.
The site is getting more exposure from celebrities as well. Yes, even Danny Trejo.
Here are highlights from the current US demographics according to Quantcast:
- 55% Male
- 67% 18-49 Years-Old
- 79% Caucasian
- 67% Childless
- 32% Yearly Salaries Over $100k
- 56% College Grads
The Reddit cat has come out of the bag in the last 12 months. Will the community stay strong? Will the content stay cutting-edge and pure? Will the traffic explosion continue?
The most likely answers are, “Yes, yes, and yes.”
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