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Reddit for President: Media with the Power to topple governments?

So I want to talk about Red­dit for a moment and dis­cuss if there is some­thing we real­ly need to take into con­sid­er­a­tion here. After read­ing an arti­cle from the Wall Street Jour­nal about Aidan King, age 23, a grape farmer and how he became a co-founder of one of the largest online orga­ni­za­tions sup­port­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Bernie Sanders, Red­dit has got my inter­est. Not to men­tion the new online dig­i­tal mag­a­zine they are cre­at­ing from con­tent with­in the com­mu­ni­ty, but we’ll talk about that a lit­tle later.

King, a life­long fan of the sen­a­tor being from Ver­mont and his friend David Fredrick of San Jose Cal­i­for­nia back in 2013 decid­ed they would cre­ate the “Sanders for Pres­i­dent” cat­e­go­ry on the Red­dit online chat forum, the sub­red­dit has helped raise more than $26 mil­lion in the third quar­ter fundrais­ing peri­od from 1.3 mil­lion dona­tions. That’s a lot of money.

The sto­ry goes that Mr. King noti­fied the Bernie Sanders cam­paign what he was up to in the very begin­ning and the night before Sanders was going to announce his can­di­da­cy, he received a mes­sage from them that he should “pre­pare to get busy”. The fol­low­ing day through Mr. King’s Sub­red­dit group, Sanders pub­licly announced his pres­i­den­tial bids and the group went from 7,000 fol­low­ers to 40,000 in a day. This put Mr. King in front of his com­put­er from 11Am to 4PM every­day par­tic­i­pat­ing and mod­er­at­ing the com­mu­ni­ty and its posts.

The Sanders for Pres­i­dent sub­red­dit today has more than 113,000 mem­bers. There is no oth­er com­par­i­son sub­red­dit out there. Hillary Clinton’s sub­red­dit at the time of the arti­cle only had 721 sub­scribers. Repub­li­can, Rand Paul has a sub­red­dit near­ing 5,000 mem­bers. Look­ing back to 2008, social media was mon­strous for Barack Oba­ma to orga­nize vot­ers. Mr. King’s oper­a­tion helped the Sanders cam­paign set a record. Mr. Sanders’ large­ly small-donor base also near­ly over­took Mrs. Clin­ton and out­raised every Repub­li­can who released their totals so far.

Sanders put the feed of Red­dit sup­port­ers and dona­tions on his cam­paigns main web­page and that inspired the com­mu­ni­ty. King and Fredrick donate all of the mon­ey to the cam­paign. His sub­red­dit asked mem­bers to call friends in the area and invite them. Mem­bers of the group found rides for peo­ple who need­ed it. This event held a crowd of 10,000 peo­ple and real­ly blast­ed Sanders into the media. King def­i­nite­ly plans on using this method again to drum up pub­lic­i­ty for the pri­ma­ry elec­tions. Cur­rent­ly King spends a bulk of his time mod­er­at­ing the group but says they fol­low one basic rule: “What would Bernie do?” No slan­der­ing of anoth­er candidate.

So what the hell are we miss­ing, are there that many peo­ple on Red­dit to pro­duce a sea change or is it just that Sanders lovers are on Red­dit or is there a much big­ger media mes­sage being pre­sent­ed here? Every time I look at Red­dit it is just this nev­er end­ing stream of con­tent. How do you make heads or tails of it all?

Now Red­dit is launch­ing a new site with con­tent that it is call­ing Upvot­ed. The idea is a dig­i­tal mag­a­zine that uti­lizes orig­i­nal con­tent about the big things hap­pen­ing across the Red­dit cos­mos. It’s got a sim­i­lar vibe to Digg. Some sto­ries are just native ads, which is noth­ing new on Red­dit but could make adver­tis­ers and users hap­pi­er by drip­ping that obvi­ous­ness else­where. The site’s Heath Black says “we have an edi­to­r­i­al team that only works on the Upvot­ed con­tent. They have edi­to­r­i­al over­sight into what we write. They will scour every nook and cran­ny on Red­dit on a dai­ly basis to find the coolest stuff, con­duct inter­views with the cre­ators, and even in some sit­u­a­tions orches­trate video AMAs or pod­casts”. So fig­ure 10–20 pieces of orig­i­nal con­tent and going any up to 40 a day.

So when I read these kinds of things, I think is Red­dit some kind of out­let for the pulse on cul­ture. Will the arti­cles and top con­tent on Upvot­ed become “THE” thing that the pub­lic wants or has an inter­est in, could it induce interest?

As of right now, the wheels in my head are turn­ing and I am now going to real­ly look at the media out­let, per­haps there is a lot more to explore there. Maybe you should start a sub­red­dit today? You could be the next President.

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