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How a small business eCommerce store made $55000+ in less than 30 minutes.

If you  look back into the annals of time and trace a path all the way to the present, it isn’t surprising to find that social media platforms weren’t as dime a dozen as they are now. More often than not, most of the ecommerce companies and local ecommerce vendors jump on the online bandwagon of various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.

However, Reddit – the self-styled and self-proclaimed “Front page of the Internet” galloped into the modern social media culture as well.  One of the distinguished features of leveraging the features of breakthrough social networking websites such as Reddit is the richness of experience that is intellectually stimulating. The secret to great performance on platforms such as Reddit is to own the stage.

This case study is a harbinger for all the better things to come as we have drafted this masterpiece in a style that is anything but high-brow. Until you are done with the last letter of the last word of the last sentence, you are advised to keep your back to the wall, check your six and be mindful of your composure. 

happiness What is Reddit?

To all our e-commerce euphoria enveloped readers, Reddit is a social networking news website resembling an online bulletin board system. In terms of user participation, Reddit is a shade higher than other widely used social media platforms. Registered users can submit content that is related to any one or more of the following domains like news, gaming, movies, music, books, fitness, tech and more.

The content submitted is either up-voted or down-voted by other registered members of the Reddit forum. To encourage niche posts and texts, the creators of Reddit came up with an intriguing feature called ‘Sub-reddit.’ Registered users can thus choose their particular niche or sub-reddit and plume the forum with insightful content.

Understanding Reddit Hug

The term Slashdot effect has been more or less rechristened in the recent times as ‘reddit hug.’ Whenever an internet server or an item is shut down due to instant popularity from the community of registered users manifest on reddit community, according to the internet slang, it is called ‘Reddit hug’ or ‘Reddit hug of death.’ This case study in itself is a ready reckoner exemplifying the notion of reddit hug.

Case Study: So, What happened ?

TAFT-Clothing

TAFT is a US (United States) based small business ecommerce store that produces Socks and Shoes for men and women.

Kory Stevens is the proud owner of TAFT.

A stranger, who was immensely satisfied with the superior quality of socks that he had bought earlier, posted a link to the reasonably priced deals that TAFT store was running. Surpassing everybody’s expectations, the sales of socks and pre-order of shoes skyrocketed and in less than 30 minutes, Kory Stevens ended with a colossal amount of $55K+.

reddit-hug

While socks & shoe making as a trade only picked up speed during industrial revolution, the pursuit of shoe selling by leveraging the feature rich reddit community threads bring some memorable smiles on the faces of one and all.  Here are the key takeaways:

Key takeaways

Here is a quick run-down of the key takeaways:

Thanking the person who took pains in spreading the good word:

Ecommerce business owners yearning for success should definitely thank each and every referral. After all, appreciation for the correct work at the right place at the right time is still a minuscule portion of the entire pie, given the profit percentage you are witnessing is in double digits or in triple digits.

Address a few mandatory things: To encourage impulse purchases, it is mandatory to address a few things- Whenever a user comments on your post, ensure that you always revert to his/her comment. Prompt responses will yield rich dividends.

Value added interactions: Kory Stevens struck a chord with the registered users by indulging in value added interactions. Here are a few excerpts that clearly portray the wonderful ability of Kory Stevens to say important things in a memorable way.

Hip Hopster (One of the many registered reddit users):

I gotta say as a web developer with an interest in design, your site is so responsive & gorgeous. My compliments to your web guru, whoever he may be. After seeing those gorgeous shoes on pre-order, it looks like I will be skipping drinking for the next few weekends to get a pair.

Kory Stevens: ( owner of TAFT )

This comment means a lot….Taft is a one-man-team so the compliments about the site mean a lot. It isn’t my specialty but I have worked hard to make it responsive and mobile-ready. Thanks for the purchase…this should be good for the women in your life.

Discussing the proposition in detail:

There is a staggering panorama of ideas that cannot be overlooked. Kory Stevens candidly guided his audiences to make effective deals. The following excerpt from the reddit thread clearly testifies this.

 Please cruise over to the HOMEPAGE and click the little SAVE 10% icon on the left…that will allow you to enter your email and be subscribed to an email group I made today just for us here on Reddit.

I will keep everyone up to date there as well as here in this comment. I will be adding more photos of the shoe collection to the Imgur album HERE so please let me know which styles you like so I can figure out which shoes to list for preorder.

For those of you that have purchased today, we will get the orders out in the next three days. If you ordered shoes, we will begin production tomorrow and hopefully delivery the beginning of January. If you are interested in the shoes, please order now just so you can get the special Reddit preorder price. 

Get more up-votes:

Whenever registered user up-votes your reply/post, points associated with your profile get incremented. On the contrary, if the registered user down-votes, points associated with your profile get decremented.

In other words, whenever a registered user likes your post, he can express his approval by giving an up-vote. When he/she dislikes your post, he can express his disapproval by giving a down-vote.

‘Karma’ is the total number of points associated with your profile. Higher the Karma, better is the redditors confidence and trust in your posts.

If you pay close attention to detail, Kory Stevens has innumerable up-votes to his post. Higher the up-votes, higher is the karma.

thumbsup

No Spamming:

We have indeed drifted from SEO etiquette. There are many black hat SEO specialists. Spamming is an integral part of black hat SEO. In their endeavors to drive huge traffic, most of the digital marketers, resort to un-ethical SEO strategies such as Spamming, flagging etc. R

eddit has a clever and a unique way to ban spamming. It is technically called ‘Stealth Ban’.  What exactly is stealth ban? Whenever a registered user posts his content only to market his products, provides URLs that redirect to his/her website, redditors ruthlessly mock the post. They express their dissent by flagging the post as a ‘spam’.

As the ‘karma’ of the person who posted the irrelevant content decreases, Reddit observes some serious anomaly. Reddit deals with this particular anomalous post in its own characteristic style. The registered user can keep on spamming but the post will not be publicly visible. As a consequence, co-redditors no longer see the post. It was Kory Stevens’s anti-spamming strategy that epitomized his character. By the way, his karma is around 3500+ points. This is a huge figure!

Key to huge traffic

As I mentioned earlier, the key to huge traffic is to get more and more up-votes. However, Reddit has its own distinctive flavor. If your post reaches 100 votes with-in an hour, reddit takes your post to the front page of the internet.

To get 100 votes with-in an hour, you have to get at-least 10 up-votes with-in a minute (as quickly as possible and better if you get 10 or more up-votes, the moment you post your thread) The sooner the better. If your thread/link enjoys the approval of a good chunk of redditors in a particular sub-reddit, it is only a matter of time that Reddit populates your post to the front page of internet.

Here is an interesting proposition- The first 10 up-votes are as powerful as the subsequent 100 up-votes. There is a caveat which cannot be ignored- If your thread gets 120 up-votes and around 20 down-votes, there is still a chance for the thread to get featured on the front page of the internet.

However, if your thread gets 1200 up-votes with 900 down-votes, it is unlikely for it to get featured on the front page of the internet. So, lower the numbers of down-votes, better are the chances. 

Getting the first 10 votes and enjoying the prompt approval of sub-redditors worked wonders for Kory Stevens. The next time you consider posting a thread to reddit, ensure that take the afore-mentioned points into consideration. Post the content with a firm resolve and a real relevance. Otherwise, gear yourself to face the vengeance of the powerful redditors.

Rule of thumb- One link per post:

Let me not stay tight-lipped on the ‘rule of thumb.’ While other social networking platforms allow you to post multiple links per post and countless links per day, reddit doesn’t allow you to do the same. One link/post and one post/day is the commonly followed norm on reddit site. Kory Stevens was well aware of this fact. He posted minimum number of links (3) in multiple sessions.

Let your co-redditors know that you are insanely active on reddit:

Here is a forward thinking idea-The sooner you give a convincing reply to a comment, the better. For example, if you revert to a comment 2 hours after the thread has been posted, I am afraid, the redditors will pay scant attention to your posts in the near future. Resort to the simple modus operandi of Post-Revert. Do not overdo. A simple strategy adapted by Kory Stevens may come handy. Here is an excerpt of the same:

Kory Stevens:

Absolutely amazing and I am so grateful. Much love to everyone. OP-please message me so I can thank you personally. You rock.  This has been the most amazing week of my life and I am confident that it will prove to be a big stepping stone as a small business owner. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.     Please excuse the raw emotions….I was an emotional wreck full of gratitude, hunger, and sleep deprivation.

Ideal submission time:

This is as important as any other criterion. What happens when you submit a link at a time when redditors are inactive? The consequences aren’t difficult to predict. You do not earn an instant 10-votes package. Redditors no longer see your link. Your link may lose its visibility amongst a flood of other threads. Kory Stevens ensured that his post was perfectly attuned to the timings of redditors. What thus ensued is a terrific response from sub-redditors.

Hit the nail on the head:

Advertising your sales pitch on Reddit will work wonders only if it isn’t a sales pitch. Didn’t understand this oxymoron? Sales pitches work best on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc.

On reddit, your post shouldn’t be a sales pitch. It should be a redditors’ touch-point. The odds must be stacked in favor of your thread, thereby allowing you to hold your nerve. This gives you a clear psychological advantage. But how do you carry the day? By simply following these wise words of counsel…..:)

Interesting content:

Do not post monotonous content. Post content which arouses the curiosity of all registered redditors. Ensure that your content isn’t self-centered and completely business oriented. If you want to publish a business oriented content, reddit isn’t for you. I time and again emphasize that reddit has an eclectic blend of geeky redditors. Do not lock horns with them. Post infographic content.

Always give an interesting title to your thread: 

Unlike other popular social networking sites that allow you to embed a link summary, reddit doesn’t allow you to follow the convention. Reddit is simply beyond all conventions. Do your best to create a cogent and a compelling title to your link.

The trick here is to trigger the anxiety of redditors with a discerning title. Do not use clichés.

For example, a restaurant in Brazil came up with a growth hacking strategy of reducing income disparities between men and women by pitching in the idea of ‘The Unfair Menu.’ Men are charged 30% higher than Women in that particular restaurant. The cogent reason behind this higher price is that Brazilian men are paid 30% higher salaries than Brazilian women.

So, a compelling title would be- “XXX’s ‘The Unfair Menu’ sounds fair. Doesn’t it?” rather than the stereotypical way of writing “XXX’s ‘The Unfair Menu’ to stop discrimination.”

By the way, Kory Stevens threw his redditors into a pleasant surprise with his title “Taft No-Show Socks Grab Bag”

Hit the iron when it is hot:

After posting highly burnished content on reddit, it is all about cashing the redditors trust and confidence. Let me explain this with an excerpt from Kory Steven’s reddit thread

So it has been about a week since the Reddit Hug hit us hard over here (in the best kind of way). Unfortunately, we will not be able to re-list any Grab Bags, as we are totally cleaned out. My little corner of the warehouse is totally empty now thanks to you 🙂

As soon as I have any Grab Bags, this is where I will come first. I think we should make it an annual thing. Semi-annual? Just for us here at FMF. Thank you to everyone that has pre-ordered shoes. Sales have been great, traffic has stayed up higher than normal for me, and everyone seems to have a great response to the shoes.

Thanks for forcing my hand on that. I wasn’t ready or prepared to launch the shoes, but I am so glad I did. It was indeed a big step forward for my business and I am so glad that I was able to do it with all of you as my support.

Kory Stevens decided to take his business to the next best level by leaving a hotbed of creditable ideas- He quoted to organize semi-annual sales. He has been honest with his redditors by quoting, “Sales have been great, traffic has stayed up higher than normal for me.” Honesty is what every redditor appreciates.

After closing observing the thread, I ferreted out the fact that Kory Stevens created a community so as to keep them in the loop. This is an awesome idea. Let us now understand the importance of creating a community.

Importance of creating a community:

community of people

Just imagine a situation in which all like-minded people express their not-so diverse yet not-so homogeneous opinions. Sounds crazy? Well, here is a word of caution- Be democratic and never diplomatic. Respect the opinions and suggestions. Allow other redditors to contribute too with-in your reddit corner. Do not just keep posting company related updates. Rather, bring a revolution by pitching up industry oriented problems along with plausible solutions. As I mentioned earlier, Kory Stevens, the genius redditor created a democratic community.

Maintaining a good rapport with redditors:

While I have enunciated this point in one of my valuable points, here is an exclusive mention of Kory Steven’s good rapport with his redditors

Stellarecho92 (One of the many genuine redditors):

Why was your day rough? If I can ask.   

Kory Stevens:

Not shy about opening up…My son has an ear infection and it has put us under a lot of stress. We also have a newborn little girl (8 weeks old) and she hasn’t been able to sleep much just because our little guy is up all the time and really upset (deservedly so).

On the business side, we are prepping to launch shoes in the next few days so I have been really stressed getting that together and balancing family and work.

I work from home so when something like a sick child that wants his dad happen, I need to be a father first, which makes work tough sometimes. Thanks for asking by the way…happy to share.

A complementary back-link:

Your measured cadences of posting should be complemented with a feasible SEO strategy. If you aren’t well versed with SEO lingo, here is a bonus that comes when you create your own sub-reddit.

As the moderator of your own dedicated sub-reddit, it is left to your discretion to choose the links to be included in the sidebar of your sub-reddit. A side-bar is a dedicated space with-in a sub-reddit that allows you to place links to all other related sub-reddits and websites including your own organization’s website.

To sum it up, reddit provides a robust and high quality back-link. I’m pretty sure that Kory Stevens should have leveraged the features of this ‘complementary back-link.’

Ask Me Anything sessions (AMA sessions):

While it is not uncommon for celebrities to organize Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, many small business e-commerce owners have to pull their socks to exhibit a swagger on reddit. From President of White House to an urbane plebian, Ask Me Anything sessions are worth for all the efforts that you have put in to make your product an instant hit. Here is an excerpt from Kory Steven’s Ask Me Anything session on reddit:

Rogue 780 (One of the many genuine redditors):

No-show socks aren’t really my thing, but I might get a tie. Could you tell me how long they are? I’m a bit on the tall side and hate ties that make me look like Oliver Hardy.    

Kory Stevens:  

totally understand…

The neckties are 58″ in length, 3″ at the blade of the tie…

Jimmy from Delaware (One of the many genuine redditors):

Sold out – hey Reddit brother can I give you some of my money for socks?

Kory Stevens:

my Reddit brother, I will let you know. In a day or two once the dust settles, if we have any inventory I will open it back up. Just gotta get these out first 🙂

Follow your legion of redditors:

If you want to earn the approval of customers for life who happen to be your redditors, here is an effective advice- Follow your legion of redditors. While it is impossible to follow each and every redditor, follow those registered redditors whose links are gaining traction. Identify the elements that are making their reddit links and titles associated with those links all the more popular. An in-depth understanding of reddit etiquette and an eagle eye for detail will definitely help you in the long run.

Paid Advertisements:

It is not uncommon to find paid advertisements and promoted posts on reddit. Quite naturally, you may be tempted to promote your posts by indulging in paid advertisements. While it is a matter of applying mind over matter and a matter of one’s personal volition, I strongly recommend doing away with the practice of paid advertising.

Any content which is up-voted by a large number of registered redditors will be promoted naturally. This naturally promoted content is deemed great, persuasive, compelling and genuine. Remember, regardless of any advertisements, quality content will always be rewarded with a heap of up-votes. Kory Stevens’s thread is an ideal example.

Some quick calculations :

The reddit thread on TAFT clothing has been on the front page for more than 24 hours. The thread has over 3800 up-votes and 550 comments. ( on the day when it was on the front page )

Let me take an average of 14th November and 15th November reddit’s traffic. As per the official reddit traffic report, the entire reddit community was visited by as many as 1.5 million visitors. A whopping 4 million page views clearly testify the solid reputation of Reddit as a stand-alone social networking site.

Here is a legitimate approximation- It can be safely assumed that 20% of the entire traffic say – 300,000 visitors landed up on TAFT clothing thread. 

Out of 300,000, let us assume that 1% of the traffic converts into sales. This number turns out be 3000. 

As TAFT sells only socks and shoes and now that socks are almost SOLD out, we can come to a safe estimate that more than 500 sales have been closed. From the comments and the links facilitated in the reddit thread, each and every genuine order is placed at $50 per order. 

orders

The entire amount thus stands at an estimated $25000. Moreover, TAFT opened up pre-order sales for shoes. Each and every genuine pre-order is placed at $150. From the comments, it can be inferred that 200 people pre-ordered it. This amounts to $30,000. Thus, the net earnings sums up to a whopping $55,000+. All this happened in less than 24 hours. 

Kory Stevens has indeed made a fortune!

I hope that this case study will serve as a ‘Complete Reference for Reddit marketing’ and much depends on how much you have gained from this insightful article.

Edit: (update on 3rd December 2015) :

We guessed the figures $55K based on the traffic assumption. But @Taft_clothing guys tweeted us and confirmed the figures. They made $70K+.

You can find their thank you note here.

1 Family’s life changed forever. Thank you reddit 🙂

Please let us know your thoughts and share this article if you like it. 

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