By Shannon Abram, Relationship Manager at The Community Roundtable.
Recently we’ve caught the AMA (Ask Me Anything) bug. Maybe you’ve seen our AMA webinars with community managers? Our members are realizing the value of the AMA format for real-time community engagement, and have been sharing best practices for AMAs within their communities. I wanted to share a few of the best practices that TheCR Network members swear by when planning and executing a successful AMA.
Think big but start small.
The gold standard for AMAs are those found on Reddit (the site that popularized the format) which can attract thousands of engaged participants. Don’t be discouraged if your first few AMAs only attract a small fraction of that audience – every new programming event can take some time to get up and running smoothly.
You’re on board with the “think big, start small” idea so now make sure you set that expectation with stakeholders and guests. You may have to host regular AMAs for a while before you will really see engagement pick-up (a month or more). It takes people awhile to get comfortable with something new like an AMA where they are expected to actively participate. Setting expectations is important for your guest, too. If you’re bringing in someone from outside your network, or even working with a community member, make sure they are comfortable, too. But don’t give up!
Be prepared to guide the conversation.
Sometimes a new format can force people back into their shells. Don’t be afraid to seed people to ask questions — a great tactic here is to see if your expert has colleagues within the community who might be able to direct questions toward him or her. Because of that existing relationship, those questions will feel very natural and comfortable and (hopefully) create a model for others.
Do you host AMAs or other alternative community programs to get people engaged in your community? You can find more Reddit specific tips here. We’d love to hear your tips for hosting a successful AMA series.