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How to get karma on Reddit

By Melissa King · July 9, 2023
A hero image with the Reddit logo

Reddit is everyone's favorite place to learn and chat about niche subjects—and Reddit karma demonstrates your ability to add value to those Reddit interactions. Redditors put a lot of weight behind users' ability to be genuine—especially if they represent a business—so while a high karma score doesn't automatically lead to trust, it'll help you become a legitimate member of the Reddit community.

To get more karma on Reddit, you have to play by Reddit's rules. Here's how.

What is Reddit karma?

Reddit karma is a user score that represents how much you've contributed to the Reddit community. Whenever you get an upvote, give an award, or receive an award, you earn karma. Meanwhile, getting a downvote decreases your karma.

How do you get Reddit karma?

Redditors give each other upvotes and downvotes using the arrows next to a post or comment, as you can see in these screenshots from r/blackcats.

The up and down arrows next to a post, which give people karma on Reddit
The up and down arrows next to a comment, which give people karma on Reddit

And you can give awards using the Award option underneath a post or in the extra options on a comment.

How is Reddit karma calculated?

Karma falls into four categories: 

  • Post karma

  • Comment karma

  • Awardee karma

  • Awarder karma

Reddit adds all four numbers together to give you your total karma score, which you can find on your profile. Here's what they look like on Chef J. Kenji López-Alt's profile.

J. Kenji López Alt's karma on Reddit

What does Reddit karma do?

Mostly, Reddit karma is about building trust on Reddit. Whether you're an individual or a business, it shows just what kind of redditor you are.

It's also worth noting that some communities have karma minimums for posting, meaning that you'll need to earn karma to make content in some parts of Reddit.

With that, here are nine ways to get karma on Reddit.

1. Identify subreddits to focus on

Reddit consists of communities called subreddits covering topics from frugality to television shows to Star Wars prequel memes. If you're an individual, follow whatever niche topics interest you. If you're a creator or a business, start your Reddit journey by following subreddits related to the following:

  • Your industry. While the most popular subreddits tend to be consumer-focused, there are also plenty of industry-specific communities like r/marketing. You can also look for consumer-centric subreddits related to your industry, such as a home gardening subreddit if you're in the gardening industry.

  • Your product. Keep an eye out for subreddits that relate to your product, too. If you sell embroidery floss at your craft store, for example, you could join r/Embroidery.

  • Your location. If your business has a local element to it, there are plenty of regional subreddits out there, like Richmond, Virginia's r/rva.

As you follow and visit different subreddits across the site, your feed will recommend relevant communities, helping you find even more to join. You can also use a tool like Anvaka to discover potential subreddits.

Pay careful attention to each subreddit's rules as you post and comment in them—especially any rules related to promotion. You can see how a micro-bakery owner was able to raise awareness about their business on r/baking by sharing their feature on the news without any promotional information. The community usually doesn't allow self-promotion, but the moderators didn't mind this case because it "doesn't seem too self-promote-y."

A moderator on Reddit saying that something isn't too self-promote-y

2. But don't be afraid to participate in larger subreddits

Besides the niche-centric subreddits, there are also much larger communities on Reddit that cover broad topics like humor or wholesomeness. Large and popular subreddits like r/funny or r/todayilearned can also be good sources of karma because they expose your content to so many people. Pay attention to what redditors typically post and comment in these communities, and follow their lead.

You can use Zapier to find relevant posts in larger subreddits to comment on. Here are some pre-built workflows to help you keep up on Reddit content.

Post to an RSS feed for new posts or comments matching a search on Reddit

Post to an RSS feed for new posts or comments matching a search on Reddit
  • Reddit logo
  • RSS by Zapier logo
Reddit + RSS by Zapier

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works.

3. Have genuine interactions

Once you find subreddits to post on, post and comment with genuine interaction as your top priority. If you're representing a business, it can be tempting to show off your product in every piece of your Reddit content, but redditors are very wary of promotional content. Instead, think of Reddit as a place to build trust and connections—you'll drive many more people your brand's way.

For example, J. Kenji López-Alt spreads awareness of his career as a chef by sharing his opinions and expertise in cooking-related subreddits. You can hardly tell he's a creator in the first place without looking at his username.

A comment from J. Kenji López Alt on Reddit

4. Post at the right time for your subreddits

Like any other form of social media, Reddit has optimal times for posting. But instead of being platform-wide, these best times vary by subreddit. Check the ideal posting time for your subreddits using Later for Reddit's Top Post Analysis tool.

Later for Reddit

Enter the subreddit's name, and this tool will break down the posting days and times of its top posts. 

5. Comment on new and rising posts

One of the biggest obstacles to getting karma is visibility. You could have the best comment or post, but if it gets buried under other content, no one will even see it. That's why, if you're karma-hunting, it's best to stick with posts that are brand new or rising. If you know how to smell a winner early, you can get maximum visibility with minimum competition.

Zapier can let you know right away if there's a new hot post in the top 10 of a subreddit. That'll let you jump on it more quickly to earn karma.

6. Always respond to keep the conversation going

If someone comments on your post, give them a reply, even if just to say thanks. This makes the commenter more appreciative, increasing the likelihood of upvotes in the future. Plus, it shows others that you're willing to respond, increasing your comments overall.

As you grow your presence on Reddit, you'll also get comments mentioning your username from people who want to show you a post or recommend you for something. These comments are especially important to respond to because they involve someone who wants to hear from you. You can automatically keep track of them with these Zaps.

7. Post good content

At the end of the day, the best way to get upvotes is to post good content. Social media skills can go a long way on Reddit: if you post the kind of content your audience wants, you'll have no problem earning karma.

Some basics in social media posting:

  • Improve the quality of your titles. Reddit users respond well to upfront, easy-to-understand titles with a personal angle. For example, if you're sharing the results of your content marketing report on r/marketing, you could use the title "Here's what my team discovered about small business content marketing workflows."

  • Use high-quality visuals. Upgrading the quality of your photos, videos, and GIFs makes your post more appealing. Reddit doesn't have an ideal image size or ratio because it presents each image in its original ratio. As you upload, keep in mind that your image should be under 20MB in size if it's a static image and under 100MB if it's a GIF.

  • Aim for emotional connections. Particularly when having conversations in the comments, don't be afraid to show your human side.

8. Repurpose helpful and meaningful content

Reddit does work as a repurposing channel for social media, but like with any other aspect of Reddit posting, you need to play by the community's rules.

Social media marketer Jaskaran Singh gained more than 500 upvotes across multiple subreddits on an r/socialmedia post he repurposed from a blog post about the Instagram algorithm. He chalks his success up to the fact that he curated information from his post in a Reddit-friendly format.

Repurposed content on Reddit

"The key to successfully repurposing your content on Reddit is understanding how the community discusses those topics. I tracked that and I deleted the elements that would not interest them. [I tried] to keep the post to the point," Jaskaran says. If you plan on repurposing a blog post, he also suggests using a Reddit post title that hints at a backstory instead of using the original article's title as-is.

9. Tread carefully with promoted posts

Reddit offers the option to pay for promoted posts that appear on users' home feeds. Since these posts can also earn karma, they may seem like an easy way to earn those reputation points. But the opposite is often true: redditors judge these paid posts much more harshly than regular posts because of their promotional nature. For example, they rallied against a Pete Davidson ad from Taco Bell in 2022 because it was all over the platform.

Pay careful attention to the principles of Reddit marketing if you decide to make a promoted post. Keeping things personal and down-to-earth is key here. One of my favorite promoted posts got thousands of karma points because the author was transparent, communicative, and understood the tone and voice of a typical Reddit post.

A post from the founder of Caliber

Community first, promotion second

Reddit is a community-first platform, so create content with the goal of building your community over selling your product. Stay transparent and down-to-earth, and you'll build trust with your fellow redditors. You'll do best as an individual who happens to have a business rather than a business with an individual behind it.

Related reading:

This article was originally published by Matt Ellis in May 2019. The most recent update was in July 2023.

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