An Introductory Guide to Planning & Executing successful Reddit AMAs
A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) makes it easy for individuals and communities to have meaningful and valuable conversations; however, the process of creating and executing a Reddit AMA is challenging. Without proper planning and execution, an AMA can turn into a costly and negative conversation about a brand.
We created this guide to help individuals, businesses, and marketers execute Reddit AMAs that contribute value to the Reddit community. Anyone with a brand, product, service, mission, event, or idea will find valuable information in this guide that will help them achieve marketing goals through the execution of a Reddit AMA.
Above all, we want you to use this guide to plan and execute a high quality AMA that contributes value to the Reddit community. We refer to Reddit as a community because that is what it is and should be treated as such. A healthy amount of respect for the Reddit community will get you on the right track with your AMA and you can start showing that respect now by reading Reddit’s content policy and etiquette (called “reddiquette”).
Table of Contents
- Introduction to Reddit AMAs
- Planning a Reddit AMA
- Submitting a Reddit AMA
- Responding to AMA Questions
- After an AMA
- Case Study: VideoGameAttorney
- Interview: VideoGameAttorney
Introduction to Reddit AMAs
What is a Reddit AMA?
A Reddit AMA is a Q&A session where a user answers questions from a subreddit. A subreddit is a community on Reddit. Each subreddit is focused on a specific topic (e.g. Music) and has their own unique rules and culture.
Reddit AMAs have become extremely popular submissions on Reddit. There are subreddits specifically dedicated to AMAs, but an AMA can be posted to just about any subreddit. The most popular AMAs come from celebrities, leaders and experts. AMAs that do well on Reddit are often shared on social media channels and news sites.
Examples of Reddit AMAs
Barack Obama’s AMA is the most popular one of all time. It brought many new users to Reddit and demonstrated the potential of Reddit as a platform for civic engagement.
Andreas M. Antonopoulos is an author that used an AMA to generate awareness about a new book and answer questions about his area of expertise.
The unique (and horrific) experience of Allena Hansen led to one of the most popular AMAs of all time.
Why do a Reddit AMA?
A Reddit AMA is a unique public relations and promotional opportunity. If properly executed, it will serve as a positive media appearance that can yield engagement with fans, increased brand awareness and web traffic. An AMA is also a very effective way to engage a large group of people.
It is essentially a press conference where every audience member gets to ask a question, but only the most popular questions need to be
How Does a Reddit AMA Work?
A Reddit AMA begins when a user creates a new submission that solicits questions from a subreddit community. If the subreddit’s subscribers are interested they will upvote the AMA and post questions in the comments section. Questions are then upvoted and downvoted by other Reddit users (also know as “redditors”), which impacts their visibility to the person holding the AMA (also called the “original poster” or “OP”).
The original poster then answers the questions, typically starting with the most upvoted first. The AMA ends when the OP stops answering questions or the community stops asking questions.
Are you qualified to do a Reddit AMA?There are no official guidelines or requirements to hold an AMA in most subreddits, however, you must have an experience, expertise, authority or something that the audience considers valuable if you want to get noticed. Here are a few examples of good candidates to hold an AMA:
- Business owners, founders, CEOs
- Content creators (authors, bloggers, podcasters, musicians, artists, comedians, filmmakers)
- Decision makers (politicians, community leaders, administrators)
- People with unique and extraordinary experiences
Helping others do a Reddit AMA
You can help facilitate an AMA for someone else by using the information in this guide to plan, schedule and assist with their AMA execution. Some of the best AMA candidates may not have the time or technical know-how to conduct their own AMA and therefore need your help to properly plan and execute an AMA.
Case Study – Rampart: The Woody Harrelson AMA Disaster
Woody Harrelson’s AMA is a perfect example of what can go wrong if the Reddit platform and community are not respected. Woody Harrelson (American Actor) is certainly qualified to conduct a Reddit AMA, however the execution was riddled with mistakes. Let’s take a look at where this AMA went wrong.
The AMA body text promotes Woody’s new movie too aggressively. The copy specifically mentions that he is doing interviews for his new film and the AMA was thrown in as part of his day doing interviews. This comment devalued the Reddit AMA experience as ‘just another interview’.
Woody only answered 15 questions and spent a mere 15 minutes on his AMA. Even Barack Obama (arguably one of the busiest people in the world) spent more time on his AMA than Woody. When holding an AMA, you should dedicate a minimum of 1 hour to answer questions. If you are limited on time, include your time constraint in the AMA so the audience has advance notice.
In some of Woody’s answers, he tried to steer the conversation back to the movie he was promoting. This led to highly upvoted questions that mocked Woody and his attempt to publicize his movie. At the end of the AMA, the most upvoted questions were all negative and it is hard to even find any of Woody’s answers because they were downvoted so heavily.
Woody Harrelson’s “Rampart” debacle is the quintessential example of how a Reddit AMA can turn negative due to poor planning and lack of understanding of how Reddit AMAs work. This event is so infamous that redditors often refer to “Rampart” when an AMA is not going well.
What to expect from a Reddit AMA
The success of a Reddit AMA depends on many factors and is therefore unpredictable. Although it is possible, you should not expect to “reach the front page” or generate large amounts of web traffic.
If you follow our guidelines and take the time to properly plan your AMA, you can expect to have a valuable conversation with a community that is interested in what you do. Any additional results or benefits should be viewed as a bonus.
Planning a Reddit AMA
Planning is an important part of a successful AMA. Follow the steps in this section to learn how to create your own Reddit AMA plan.
1. Determine your goal
A Reddit AMA is an opportunity to connect with a new audience by sharing knowledge and information while promoting something you care about. Before you plan the specifics of your AMA, ask yourself why you are doing the AMA and what results you want to achieve.
2. Choose a topic or focus of the AMA
Consider what possible topics could be the focus of your AMA. Maybe you have accomplished something notable recently or you have an upcoming event that you want to answer questions about. Try to find something to discuss during your AMA that focuses the audience’s questions on topics that allow you to contribute the most value.
Remember: An AMA is always “Ask Me Anything”. You can suggest a topic, but do not limit the scope of your AMA.
Case Study – Dr. Morrish AMA in r/MedicalSchool
In this AMA, Dr. Morrish makes a specific request to “answer questions about the ERAS application…” and then backs up his request with “I reviewed thousands of applications and I’d be happy to help as many redditors as possible.” This AMA generated over 100 comments all related to Dr. Morrish’s application review services.
Nowhere in his post did Dr. Morrish try to limit the scope of the AMA. Instead he let the audience know what his expertise was and how he can help them. If someone asked a random question, he would have been happy to answer it.
3. Choose a target audience
Most users conduct their AMA in the general AMA subreddit (r/IAmA), but there are thousands of targeted subreddits that are probably more appropriate for your AMA (especially if you do not have mass appeal or popularity). Go to reddit.com/subreddits to search for a subreddit that best fits the topic(s) you chose for your AMA.
When you find a subreddit related to your topic(s), explore the subreddit to learn more about the community. Each subreddit is unique and any patterns you identify could be valuable when holding your AMA.
Tip: When exploring a subreddit, use the search feature in the right sidebar to search for the phrase “AMA” to get a list of previous AMAs that have been done in the subreddit. Read them to see what worked and did not work for previous AMAs.
Case Study – World Traveler does AMA in r/IAmA
This AMA was submitted to r/IAmA (the general AMA subreddit) by Martin, a world traveler that is “cycling to every country in the world”. The AMA received a score of 50 and a total of 92 comments, which is a positive, yet relatively mild response.
The AMA did okay in /r/IAmA, but Martin could have received better results and more meaningful engagement in a targeted subreddit. Two subreddits that are prime candidates for his AMA are /r/Travel and /r/Bicycling.
/r/Travel is an obvious consideration and it has 180,000+ subscribers that are interested in traveling stories like Martin’s.
/r/Bicycling is a community of 140,000+ cyclists that would embrace Martin’s AMA because it is an interesting story and because Martin would be seen as one of their own.
Martin was not wrong to do his AMA in /r/IAmA, but there are other communities on Reddit that may have been a better fit. Doing multiple AMAs could have been a great option for Martin, especially because there is probably very little overlap between the topics discussed in /r/Travel and /r/Bicyling. When doing multiple AMAs, we generally recommend starting with the most targeted subreddit first, before venturing to larger and more general communities.
4. Schedule your AMA
Pick a date that best suits your availability and coincides with your promotion. Unless you have a special circumstance, your AMA should be posted during the most active times on Reddit, which are Monday through Thursday between 9am and 12pm Eastern Time.
Avoid scheduling a date and time that will compete with other important events going on in your niche. For example, if you are a golf instructor do not hold your AMA on the final day of a major televised golf tournament. Your post will get buried underneath discussions related to the current event.
Once you have decided on a date and time, message the moderators of the subreddit to let them know you are planning on doing an AMA in their community. Moderators serve as caretakers of a subreddit community, so it is important to form a relationship with the moderators to make sure your AMA is welcome in their community. You do not want to prepare and announce your AMA only to have it removed by a moderator on the day of the event.
Moderators can help you promote your AMA by announcing it in advance (with a post or mention in the sidebar). Below is a template you can use when messaging the moderators. To message the moderators of a subreddit, look for the “message the moderators” link in the subreddit’s sidebar.
AMA Moderator Message Template:
My name is [insert name] and I am [insert who you are / what you do]. I plan on doing an AMA on
[insert date / time of planned AMA]. I just wanted to check in with you first to make sure it is cool
and to see if there is anything I need to do or if you have any questions. Thanks!
Verification: [Link to tweet or other verification method]
5. Promoting your AMA
After you schedule your AMA and receive approval from the moderators, you can let your fans know about it by posting an announcement on your website, social media channels, and email newsletter. Tell your fans when you will be doing the AMA and provide them with a link to the subreddit where it will take place.
In the next chapter, we discuss promoting your AMA after you have submitted it.
Submitting a Reddit AMA
Once you have your AMA planned and scheduled, you are ready to write the AMA copy and submit it. Follow the steps below to create and submit your Reddit AMA.
1. Choose a username and create a Reddit account
If you do not have a Reddit username, go to reddit.com and click “register” in the top right-hand corner. Choose a username that says who you are and what you are representing. Use any combination of your name, company name, and position (e.g. “CompanyJohn” or “CompanyCEO” or “John_Smith”). Feel free to be more creative, too!
2. Write the copy of your AMA
The copy of your AMA should be written in advance. It should be revised and edited by everyone involved with the planning and execution of your AMA to make sure it fulfills your goals and grabs the attention of redditors.
Title Text: Your title should briefly identify who you are, why you are a doing an AMA, and include an attention grabbing statement. It must contain the phrase “Ask me anything” or “AMA”. A good title can be the difference between AMA success and failure.
Body Text: The body of your AMA will be shown when a redditor clicks on the title of your AMA. The body is your chance to expand on who you are and why you are doing the AMA. You should address specific questions or info that everyone should know before commenting. You can also use this space to link to your website or promotional content. Your verification link should be included near the bottom of body text (more info on this below).
Tip for Google Analytics Users: If you include any links to your website(s), consider using the URL Builder from Google. This will allow you to more easily segment traffic generated by the AMA and see how well it converted (assuming you have conversion tracking set up).
3. Create your AMA verification link/photo
Your verification link is a way to show Reddit that you are who you say you are. If you do not verify your AMA, redditors will be reluctant to participate in your AMA and it could be removed by a moderator.The most common way to verify your AMA is to take a photo of yourself holding a special message for redditors that includes your Reddit username. This photo can then be tweeted or posted on a blog that you can link in the body of your AMA.
If you cannot do a photo, a simple tweet or blog post announcing the AMA along with your Reddit username will suffice.
4. Submit your AMA
Login to Reddit at your planned time, navigate to the appropriate subreddit and submit your AMA as a text post. Copy your draft AMA text into the submission form and click submit.
You will need to be familiar with reddit’s ‘markdown’ to format your post properly. This information will allow you to add bold text, links, and other formatting options. View reddit’s formatting guidelines here.
After submitting, share the link to your AMA with your fans. Create the link to your AMA on social media and announce that the AMA is live and you are taking questions. Also consider sending an email broadcast with this information. Emails are often read at a later date, so address this in the email (e.g. “Don’t worry if you missed the AMA, you can visit the link at any time to read the questions and answers”).
Important: Never ask your fans to upvote your AMA. This is against reddit’s rules and could result in your AMA being removed. Any of your fans that have Reddit accounts will most likely upvote your AMA anyway.
Submit your AMA with easyAMA
If submitting your AMA through the Reddit interface seems daunting, you can use easyAMA, an app that makes it easy to create, preview, share, and submit your Reddit AMA.
EasyAMA was created by the authors of this book and is completely free to use. We created the app after working with multiple clients who had a hard time submitting their AMAs through the Reddit interface. The app solves this problem by walking the user, step-by-step, through the AMA creation process. It also allows you to preview your AMA and share it with other members of your team.
You can learn more about easyAMA including a simple guide on how to use the app at https://easyama.co.
Responding to Reddit AMA Questions
Once you have submitted your Reddit AMA, the fun begins! Here are a few tips on how to respond to AMA questions to get the most out of your AMA while respecting the Reddit community.
Answer questions live after submitting your AMA.
Wait 15-30 minutes after posting your AMA to allow redditors to see the AMA and post their questions (this may take longer in small subreddits). You should reserve time to answer as many questions as possible (at least 1 hour). Redditors will appreciate your quick responses and you will receive more engagement and upvotes if you are available to answer questions immediately.
Start with the newest questions, then check the most upvoted questions.
When your AMA starts, sort the comments by “new” and refresh the page every few minutes. If you are having trouble keeping up with new questions, sort the comments by “top” and focus on the top questions that you have not yet answered (you can minimize questions that you already answered by clicking the “[-]” symbol next to each comment).
The top voted questions are the ones that the subreddit cares about the most. If you ignore these questions, redditors may downvote your AMA and write negative comments.
Case Study – Earl Thomas ignores most upvoted AMA question
Earl Thomas, an NFL player, held an AMA as part of his endorsement deal with Old Spice. Lots of interest was given to this AMA (1,400+ comments, Reddit score of 2,240), but Earl failed to respond to the most upvoted question, which makes his AMA look incomplete and unprofessional.
The most upvoted question was about a controversial topic (a teammate that left the team under tenuous circumstances) and Earl had the right idea not to answer the question. However, when you are doing an AMA, you have to provide a response to the most upvoted questions. Instead of ignoring the question, he should have said something like, “I appreciate the question but I can’t comment on this”. Most redditors would have sympathized with that response and it would not look like he was ignoring the question.
Be open to discuss any topic
Remember that you are doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything), so there is no such thing as an off-topic question. Even a short response will show the community that you care and will encourage others to submit questions. If you do not want to respond to a specific question, it helps to respond with an explanation of why you cannot answer the question.
If redditors are asking lots of questions you cannot or do not want to answer, then you should consider editing your post with an apology and explanation on why you cannot talk about a certain subject.
Do something special
Consider recording video or audio responses to the top AMA questions. These responses will make for great blog or social media content and will make your AMA audience feel special. You can even tell redditors in the body of your AMA that you will respond to the top 5 or 10 questions with a video.
Take a break and then answer more questions
Feel free to get up after an hour or two and return later to answer more questions. Before you leave, notify redditors by editing your AMA body text. We recommend checking back at least one time on the day of your AMA to answer more questions and then returning the following day to catch any unanswered questions that came in overnight. This will give everyone a chance to ask questions and create as much engagement as possible.
Thank the Reddit community
When you are done answering questions, edit your AMA’s body text to thank the subreddit for their participation. This action will add closure to your AMA and let redditors know that you will not be answering more questions.
After a Reddit AMA
Once you are done responding to questions, there are four things you should do to increase the impact of your AMA.
1. Analyze the results of your AMA.
Record the basic stats of your AMA (score, total comments, questions asked, and questions answered). Also record any results that were generated by Reddit (hits to website, sales, coupon codes used, etc). Share this information internally with relevant team members to assess the AMA. This information is important to digest and will help you plan your next AMA.
2. Share the top questions/responses with your customers.
Create a blog post that details the top 5 or 10 questions from the Reddit AMA and share this post with all of your followers. You can use Twitter, Facebook, and your email newsletter to distribute the post. You can take it a step further by recording video responses to the top AMA questions or discussing the AMA on an audio podcast.
3. Implement changes based on AMA feedback.
Take the feedback and comments you receive from Reddit seriously. Based on the feedback, is there something small or big that you can do to change or improve your business or initiative? If so, make the change and then return to the subreddit to thank redditors in a new submission to notify them of any changes you made due to the AMA.
4. Plan your next AMA.
Analyze what worked and what did not work from your AMA and consider doing another AMA. You can return to the same subreddit or try a new subreddit. Some people may benefit from scheduling regular AMA sessions with a particular subreddit to build a long-term relationship.
Now you are ready to plan and execute a successful Reddit AMA. We hope this guide serves to encourage more leaders and experts to conduct AMAs. Reddit is an untapped audience that can have a positive impact on your business if you learn how to use the platform appropriately.
One final tip: Every marketing action on Reddit should be seen as an exchange of value. You must be willing to fully share your experience and knowledge with redditors. The more you care about and help redditors, the more you will get back from the community.
Case Study: VideoGameAttorney
VideoGameAttorney (VGA) is Ryan Morrison’s username on Reddit and in real life he is a video game attorney. As a video game attorney, he helps game developers and studios navigate legal issues related to the video game business. On Reddit, he is very active in /r/GameDev, a subreddit for video game developers. He provides general legal advice and even does a weekly AMA to answer questions from the community. We decided to feature VGA for our case study because he shows us what is possible when you contribute value to Reddit in the form of AMAs. In this case study, we focus on an extremely successful AMA that VGA held in /r/IAmA.
IAmA Video Game Attorney
On June 25th, 2014, VGA held an AMA in /r/IAmA that received a score of 3,495, was 94% upvoted, and had a total comment count of 2,321. Considering he has no celebrity status, this was a highly successful result. Here are the key things that contributed to the success of his AMA.
Unique expertise relevant to the general Reddit audience
VGA held this AMA in /r/IAmA, which is the general AMA subreddit. It is important that an AMA is relevant to this audience for it to do well and VGA made sure his AMA would appeal to a mass audience. Reddit is generally interested in video games, but VGA made his AMA even more appealing by focusing on Candy Crush, which was an extremely popular mobile game and well known in the general Reddit community.
Informative and intriguing title
“IamA Video Game Attorney (it’s a thing, I swear)”
This is a great way to start the title because it tells the audience exactly what he does and why he is unique (most people probably do not know that video game attorneys exist). The “it’s a thing, I swear” line is a nice touch, because it shows that he understands the unfamiliarity the audience might have with his profession.
“just wrote an article on how Candy Crush is ruining the gaming industry”
This will push the buttons of the general Reddit audience which are fans of video games and independent game developers. A storyline that paints one of the big game developers as “ruining the industry” is very intriguing to the general Reddit audience.
“I’ve also helped /r/gamedev get informed and protect themselves”
VGA could have easily left this last part out of the title, but adding it in plays to his credibility as an active redditor that contributes to the community. Letting the audience know about his contributions gives him leeway to promote his article and himself in general.
Friendly, informative, and concise body
VGA reiterates that he is a redditor and that he contributes to the /r/gamedev subreddit with a weekly AMA. It is also important that he does not have an entitled attitude about his contributions. He is simply saying, “Hey guys, I’m one of you”.
VGA promotes an article he wrote about Candy Crush, which provides the background information for the claim he makes in the title of the AMA (“Candy Crush is ruining the gaming industry”). This is not only a promotion, but also a topic of discussion for the AMA.
VGA encourages the audience to ask him questions about specific topics related to his expertise, but he references “Rampart” at the end to assure redditors that they can ask him anything (Rampart was the movie Woody Harrelson promoted in his AMA disaster mentioned in the first section).
It is essential to include a verification link in your AMA post body. VGA includes a link to his website and a link to his Twitter account (where he had tweeted about the AMA).
This is not needed for every AMA, but was needed for VGA’s AMA. Include a disclaimer if needed (e.g. legal, medical, or financial advice). A Reddit AMA has the potential to go “viral”, so play it safe.
VGA posted two edits. The first was to notify redditors that he was taking a break, but promised to return to answer more questions. He also used the first edit to clarify why he had to put “THIS IS ATTORNEY ADVERTISING” in the disclaimer section.
The second edit was to let the Reddit audience know that he was done answering questions. This is a courtesy to the Reddit audience and is considered good practice.
Quality and quantity of answers
VGA responded to 108 questions, each with a quality response. Some answers are longer than others, but each one answers the question or explains why he cannot give specific advice. Answering as many questions as possible with honesty and quality answers is a key component to a successful AMA.
Follow in VideoGameAttorney’s Footsteps
VideoGameAttorney’s AMA in /r/IAmA is a great example of what you should try to emulate with your AMA. Take note that his success is largely because he understands the Reddit community through his participation and contribution to smaller subreddits. This gave him the social currency to hold a hugely successful AMA that indirectly promotes his legal services.
VideoGameAttorney was kind enough to answer questions about what he has learned from doing Reddit AMAs and how they have impacted his business.
Q: What prompted you to hold your first Reddit AMA?
I was a redditor before the idea of doing an AMA even crossed my mind. It’s a great community, and it’s also one of the biggest around. When I realized my career intersected with a lot of users’ interests, I realized hosting an AMA would both help my article get read, and entertain some readers that day.
Q: How do you prepare for your AMAs?
The questions are nearly impossible to prepare for, as I’m shocked each week by the plethora of different questions I get. I would say the best form of preparation is to just make sure you have the time and energy to answer every question you can, especially the upvoted ones! People get suspicious when you ignore top voted questions, even if it was an honest mistake.
Q: What effects have your AMAs had on your business?
I would probably be homeless without these AMAs. Okay, not really. But it’s certainly helped me connect with my clients on a more personal level and let them know I’m not just here to steal a few bucks from them. I’m a passionate member of the gaming community and while I have no idea how to program, I try to help on this side of things. I’m now near the top of Google for most related search results, I’ve learned what my clients want (and why they were afraid to contact an attorney in most cases), and I’ve been better able to focus my niche practice in a way that is mutually beneficial for myself and my clients.
Q: What lessons have you learned through your experience on Reddit?
Don’t feed the trolls! I’ve had other attorneys and random jerks both come and try to “grind my gears” during these AMAs. I made the mistake once of trying to defend myself and fight with them, but that just makes you look childish and gets you linked in the drama subreddits. Just ignore the morons, and if you have to respond (because it’s highly upvoted or actually is of concern to the other readers) keep it short and sweet.
Q: How did you build a reputation in r/gamedev and how do you leverage it without ruining it?
Gamers can smell a fake a mile away. I really love the community and I’ve put in a ton of pro bono hours helping them out. It’s another mutually beneficial relationship, as the people I help spread word about me and they get legal assistance they normally couldn’t afford. It has led to a lot of clients who can pay and has led to my growth in the industry considerably. I’d say the most important thing to realize is that this isn’t some easy marketing gimmick. This is a community of very intelligent, and very passionate people.
Don’t come trying to peddle your goods unless you’re willing to take the time to be a part of the fun. It’s a great community, but they don’t want to just read a soul-less ad, even in the form of an AMA.