30 Sep / 10 Tips for Hosting a reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA)
Recently the website reddit.com received much attention due to President Obama hosting an Ask Me Anything. Given this heightened attention, we would like to offer some tips in case you would like to host your own Ask Me Anything (AMA).
An AMA is a Q & A event forum on reddit.com and can be found under the IAmA subreddit. Subreddits are smaller communities on reddit that focus on a specific topic. News, World News, Knitting, Feminism, Pictures, Funny, and DataIsBeautiful are some examples.
A person or organization can host an AMA and announce it to the reddit community by posting “I AM [insert name or position here], Ask Me Anything” in the IAmA subreddit and then field questions from a curious audience of redditors. An AMA provides a direct and open forum among a host and their fans, as well as new and unfamiliar audiences. Essentially, it is an instant conversation with anyone who cares to learn more about you. This process also provides content to reuse within your organization and to share with future audiences.
Below are the basic elements of what you need to know to conduct a reddit AMA:
Engage in Conversation
An AMA connects you directly with your audience. Take this opportunity to have a dialogue as if you were sitting down and chatting.
Have your facts/links/answers ready
Create a list of likely questions you’ll receive or points you want to get across. Find the specifics on the facts about your organization, numbers relating to programs you run, the URL links you may want to link to, etc, and make a large list. This way when you’re asked a question that requires one of these figures, you can quickly pull it up, copy, and paste.
Learn how reddit works
Start by creating an account and exploring the site. Once you’re comfortable navigating around, move on to the next step…
Research similar AMAs
Use the search function in the IAmA subreddit to find other AMAs related to the line of work you do. See what questions were asked, how the host responded to them, and what people generally think about the field.
Announce on social media
Start by contacting the moderators of the AMA subreddit to let them know when you plan on hosting your AMA. Do this a week or two in advance. This allows redditors have time to see it on the calendar and gives you time to reach out to your current followers. Tweet, post on Facebook, and email your current fans letting them know you are offering a chance for them to ask you anything. People who are already interested in your organization will most likely appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with you and learn more.
It’s an Ask Me ANYTHING
It’s called an Ask Me Anything, which means your favorite sandwich, sports team, or that controversial question you were hoping to not receive are all fair game. Do not make the mistake of thinking you or your organization is above connecting with people and sharing what your favorite board game is. That said, you don’t have to answer every question. Though honest answers, addressed in the following section, to questions unrelated to your message will be respected
Ignore the trolls (or engage with caution and humor for bonus points)
Know that reddit users don’t tolerate harassing questions or comments of people who are honestly trying to engage. Such postings will likely be “down voted to oblivion” meaning you will not be expected to answer them or even see them. Some users will attempt to joke and have fun with a sharp tongue. While this can be ignored, it can also be met with equal levels of snark or wit. If done properly, you will be seen as someone who actually gets their audience and can take a joke.
Know when the Narwhal bacons
-Hint: it doesn’t matter
This was a common joke on reddit several years ago. Similarly the question of “would you rather fight 100 duck sized horse or 1 horse sized duck” made its way to the top of many AMA’s (including President Obama’s). The point is, have fun. Enjoy your AMA, enjoy the jokes, the absurdities, the snark, and even the trolls.
Have multiple people on your team
You will likely receive more questions than you have time to answer. It is completely fine and acceptable that you will not have time to answer all of the questions. Answering more questions provides greater chances for people to learn about your work, and having additional members on your team allows for this.
Don’t forget to upvote during the conversation
-It’s good karma
reddit is run by voting. Upvotes send content to the top of a page, giving it greater visibility; downvotes send content to the bottom, making it nearly invisible. By upvoting good content as your AMA unfolds, you send positive feedback to the users for their contribution. It also allows others to see questions you want to be seen and your answer.
TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read
You are not selling anything. You are not doing this for gain. You are donating your time to educate and provide free information and insight to those who are interested or want to know more. And, of course, to let the world know what your favorite sandwich is.
– Michael Clayman