Reddit Adds Photo-Heavy “Discover” Feed As It Discards Its Old Image


Reddit has given itself a little makeover.

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The social network has added a photo-laden “Discover” tab to its mobile app, which will algorithmically display and suggest new groups for users to follow. It is part of a new bid by the 16-year-old company to modernize the app’s look amid a surge in interest over the last year, making it more user friendly and less reliant on a text-heavy, Dot Com Era look.  

The Discover feed will surface groups based on a user’s interests, signaled by other communities they already follow and the ones they engage with the most. It will only recommend groups that haven’t run afoul of the company’s rules, a move by Reddit to hopefully avoid the pitfalls other social media sites have run into with algorithmic recommendations for groups, most notably Facebook. Discover will sit on the bottom bar of the app, near your thumb—prime real estate. Apps are pained to reorder themselves like this and generally only do so to boost a major new project. (Instagram, for instance, has recently done this with Reels, its TikTok competitor, and Twitter did it with Spaces, its audio chat rooms.)

For now, the Discover feed is available only on the mobile app versions of Reddit, itself a reflection of the changing nature of how people use Reddit (more on smartphones, less on computers). It may eventually add Discover to its desktop site, too, says Jason Costa, a director of product at Reddit.

Reddit has long been famous for hosting a wide variety of groups on its site, ones wide ranging in topic. (It has over 100,000 of them.) The best known to the world at large may be WallStreetBets, the investing-focused forum responsible for sparking the meme stock frenzy. It has over 11.7 million members. There are many others with even bigger followings on Reddit, including ones for humorous memes, Funny (39 million); bar trivia-type information, TodayILearned (27 million); improbable headlines, NotTheOnion (20.8 million); and cute animal pictures, Aww (30.3 million).

Almost as famously, Reddit has preferred to stay locked in the past, making few updates to its appearance and keeping it a little tough to find new groups: You might do so through a Google Search or by living on its main feed, which brings up the day’s most popular content across all of Reddit.

That is changing now. Since WallStreetBets went mainstream last year, Reddit has seen a flood of users, more than 52 million today—and an influx of new capital, raising nearly $780 million in 2021. It is experimenting with adding more video and photo features, standards on other social media but not what Reddit has relied on. The company is betting these changes will help as it winds toward an IPO.

As Reddit and its competitors understand well, groups are important features on social media. Users who find groups they like tend to spend more time across the entire site—for the same reason it is often more enjoyable to go somewhere with people rather than sit alone.

In testing the addition of Discover, Reddit found that 20% of users who used it started following at least one new group, Costa says. “We’ve already seem some early promising signs that this space is going to offer the opportunity to Redditors to more easily find communities that resonate with them,” he says.



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