Jessica Malnik

Reddit Marketing: Six Tips for AMA Success

By: Jessica Malnik | April 14, 2015 | 

Reddit Marketing: Six Tips for AMA SuccessBy Jessica Malnik

Successful Reddit marketing is a mystery to many communications pros.

In my previous post, I talked about seven ways marketers can leverage Reddit.

In this post, I’m going to do a deeper dive into one of those way—the Reddit AMA—or “Ask me Anything.”

Many brands, celebrities and politicians, including President Obama, have hosted AMAs on Reddit.

Some more successfully than others.

After all, the last thing you want is for your brand’s AMA to wind up as the featured thread of the hour on AMAdisasters or on HailCorporate.

I’m going to walk you through six tips with examples for how to make your next Reddit marketing strategy and AMA a smashing success.

Have a Solid Angle for Broad Audience Appeal

The most popular demographic on for Reddit marketing are 18-34 old males.

If your topic isn’t going to even loosely appeal to either that age or gender, you may be better off doing your AMA within another outlet.

Here are examples of two awesome angles from widely successful AMAs.

One from a NASA astronaut and another from a popular director and animator.

Both of these AMAs were successful because they focused on one specific facet of a job that many people find fascinating, but don’t know much about.

The whole format felt more like a conversation in a virtual coffee shop instead of a formal, stuffy Q&A.

Reddit Marketing is NOT About You or Your Products

If the topic of your AMA is solely about how awesome your company or product is, you are going to have a hard time with being successful in your Reddit marketing.

Even more so than other social media outlets, Reddit is notorious for calling out shameless self-promoters.

There are plenty of horror stories of how this can backfire in Reddit marketing efforts, such as this recent example from Nissan.

Nissan went into the AMA with a very product-centric topic (already not a great idea), and made it a lot worse when their PR team was only seeding and cherry-picking questions to answer that painted the company in a favorable light.

Include Industry Influencers 

Get a well-known person, who already has an audience in your industry to be the spotlight.

Just as important as choosing the right topic in your Reddit marketing efforts, it’s equally important to choose the right person within your organization to feature in the AMA.

Ideally, you should feature the company’s CEO or someone within the executive team and not, for example, your PR director.

Aside from maybe President Obama’s AMA, one of the next most popular and successful AMAs was when Elon Musk held one.

These AMAs made it possible to have a conversation on Reddit with someone who is largely inaccessible to the vast majority of us.

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything in Reddit marketing and in AMAs.

You can have the best topic and person featured in the AMA, but if you host it at the wrong time or don’t promote it enough within your target audience, it’s going to be wasted.

For example, Google bore the brunt of bad timing when they hosted a scheduled AMA at the exact same time as a major Gmail server outage.

Unfortunately, some of this was just bad luck. You don’t plan for a widespread outage, but they made the situation worse by still hosting the AMA during this outage.

Prepare For the Tough Questions

Reddit marketing is not for the faint of heart.

The Reddit community is not afraid to tackle the difficult and uncomfortable conversations and you must be prepared for how to handle tough questions and negative feedback.

This is probably what keeps the majority of companies from hosting AMAs (not to mention avoid Reddit marketing altogether).

Redditors are known for being very direct, critical, and to the point.

If you are the type of brand that prefers to not respond to negative comments or, worse, delete them online, you probably shouldn’t be hosting an AMA. You will be tarred and feathered on Reddit.

However, if you are a brand that is open and demonstrates a willingness to respond and engage to all comments, an AMA can be a great option to spread brand awareness and potentially win over some of your biggest critics.

One of the best examples of this is when Internet Explorer (yes, that IE) hosted an AMA on Reddit.

IE openly knew their reputation on Reddit.

Instead of trying to hide from their subpar reputation among web developers and designers, they embraced it.

You can even see it in the AMA title, “We build Internet Explorer. I know, right? Ask us just about anything.”

Authenticity is Crucial in Reddit Marketing

Be authentic, personable, and as honest as possible. 

This isn’t just for Reddit AMAs, but all of social media. This isn’t the time or place for legalese and corporate speak.

One of my personal favorite examples is how Taco Bell chose to respond to some questions in this AMA.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 7.38.40 PM

This is just an example of a fun, personable, and witty comment to a customer’s question.

That type of response can earn you a lot of street cred and respect among the masses on Reddit.

Have you hosted a branded AMA on Reddit? What tips do you have for ensuring it goes smoothly?  

photo credit: Jasmine via photopin (license) and canva captioned by Laura Petrolino

About Jessica Malnik

By day, Jessica Malnik is the Community Manager/Social Media Specialist at Bigcommerce. By night, she can be found writing on her own blog, which centers around her community management, social media, PR, and marketing ramblings. Her work has been featured in a variety of online sites and publications, including Convince and Convert, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, SocialFresh, Brazen Careerist and 12Most.

  • I haven’t hosted one – but I loved your examples! 🙂

  • biggreenpen Thanks! Let me know if you either plan or host an AMA. I’d love to check it out. 🙂

  • Jessica Malnik

    Thanks for publishing my guest post! 🙂

  • JamieNRutter

    The AMA I hosted was for a product in a regulated industry, so I recommend being over prepared with 3 things: 

    1) Having legal/regulatory with you or on the phone to help answer the risky questions in real-time. 

    2) Writing down every single question you can imagine someone asking and pre-approving example responses. I say example because, like you mentioned, being personable and authentic is important!

    3) Resources – links to examples, studies and any other information that someone may ask for. You don’t want to waste time searching for that while questions are rolling in!

  • hafez_adel

    ginidietrich jessicamalnik Great article! I’ve also done a few AMA’s on Reddit, so if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask

  • jessicamalnik

    hafez_adel: Thanks! What’s your biggest AMA takeaway? #curious cc ginidietrich

  • JamieNRutter Thanks for commenting. All three of these are great points, especially when dealing with a highly regulated industry.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I’m still scared of Reddit. My skin is too thin.

  • I just sort of want to hug poor IE for their AMA. That takes a lot of courage! Great examples of the dos and don’ts! We are going to call you our Reddit Expert in Residence here at Spin Sucks, you have give us all the courage to dig deeper into this quirky network!

  • Alright. Let’s have a conversation about this. Are there good places for someone like me to hang out? I tried the PR subreddits, but didn’t agree with what they were saying (lots of tech guys talking about how to get “ink” any way possible), but didn’t see any value in starting the argument. As in, it’s not going to bring readers here or drive new clients to call us. What do you think?

  • JamieNRutter

    ginidietrich Who’s your target audience? Search for their business/industry/interest to find their subreddits. What problem of theirs are you trying to solve? Find conversations happening about that (by searching for keywords within the subreddits) and give your input.
    Example: let’s say you want to focus on leads who are self-publishing books. Search for a subreddit for authors. Then, search for keywords or just monitor the sub daily for questions like “How do you get people to your book launch?” or “No one’s buying my book on Amazon.” Then provide them a valuable answer!

  • JamieNRutter

    jessicamalnik  Adding that I appreciate your insistence on authenticity/personality. It’s SO key.

  • CaptainKinship

    Reddit AMAs are a wonderful example of brand humility, and of having an experience or real ‘two-way symmetry’. Because of the clued up nature of a lot of the users on Reddit (or, at least a lot of the ones that end up commenting on AMAs…!) it means that trying to shy away from uncomfortable points becomes very difficult. And in a sense it’s why for some politicians reddit AMAs have been disastrous for their reputation on the site. What’s worse is then that such a bad reputation is easily reinforced to other users through repeat referencing for months (and years!) to come. As such, it’s vital that people who do them understand the way in which AMAs provide stellar feedback from people who might have only really heard about a person via mainstream media outlets, and as a way to therefore understand the extent to which such exposure has been pos/negative.