Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Few Takeaways from My Reddit AMA...

Last week I had the opportunity to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) spotlight on Reddit in the /r/Politics subsection.  Here is a link to the entire transcript.  Now that a few days have passed, here are some observations for anyone who may be considering something similar going forward.
  • The participating audience asked many well-informed intelligent questions and the replies were generally respectful and civil in tone.  I think people's biggest fear from doing such online Q&As is the fear of trolls and having the dialogue break down towards the least common denominator.  That was not the experience here.  Reddit's userbase quite impressed me, actually.
  • "Ask Me Anything" should be taken literally.  The very first question I was asked was personal and straight to the point: "Who is your favorite presidential candidate right now?".  Indeed, the entire line of questioning ranged from identifying my personal politics, to where I work, to my positions on different issues, and much more.  Which was fine.  But anyone thinking that they'd be able to stick to a script of some type - academic, professional, etc. - and be evasive in the face of personal questions should reconsider whether an AMA is a good fit for them.
  • Don't expect any monetization.  Admittedly, I was originally motivated to do the AMA as a way of marketing my book.  I made sure to follow the site's recommendation not to push your sales pitch too hard, but I still included my book's title in the AMA title and also posted a link to my blog.  In the end, despite the /r/Politics subreddit having over 3 million subscribers, several thousand active online during the AMA, the AMA receiving 194 points and 178 comments, it all resulted in just one book sold through Amazon.  On the other hand, my blog did roughly triple its usual amount of traffic for the week and I acquired a healthy number of new subscribers. The takeaway here: AMAs are good for expanding your audience, but not so much for sales.
Just some food for thought.  But, overall, it was a surprisingly positive experience.



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