How Major Brands Were Just Destroyed on Reddit is a massive site (23.4 Million unique visitors per month) that offers messageboards (called subreddits or “subs”) on any topic you can imagine. Any user can create their own sub which others can subscribe to. Posts on subs can be voted up or down and popular posts are fed to the front page for all to see. That’s the quick background.

One top sub (almost 4 Million subscribers) is called /r/AskReddit where you can pose a question to the entire community. Posts on this board often make it to the front page. Around 3pm Eastern on August 15th a Reddit user named PaintedCeiling asked, “What is a “dirty little (or big) secret” about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really ought to know?” Is your brand listed there? Here are 2 examples of comments people submitted (click the image for a better view):

Jiffy Lube:

Jiffy Lube Fail

Harley Davidson:

Harley Davidson Fail

Some posts were rather helpful such as the ER doctor and others (such as the lobbyist) were scary in an amusing way. Here is a great example of how a Barnes and Noble employee defended company practices:

Barnes and Noble win

I can’t begin to list all the brands mentioned here (Applebee’s, UPS, Panera, History Channel, etc) so I encourage you to take a look and do a search for your brand on Reddit. There may be other conversations happening there as well.

This is a great example of why brands (brand managers specifically) need to have an open ear to the web. Are you listening? Do you have a strategy in place for social monitoring? What about sentiment analysis? Sure we’re not all Harley Davidson or Barnes and Noble (who should also consider a reaction to the above post) but this affects everyone. Finding zero conversation about you online is just as worrisome as finding bad conversation. If you have no conversation, get started. If you have little or negative conversation, good. Learn from it and react authentically, honestly and carefully. This is a strategic business move not a response to “some kid on a computer in a basement.” You may say, “Nobody will ever see that,” but I know of one person who will… Google. Your #1 customer online is Google. If they can find it, so can any/everyone else.