We’re living in an era of the conscious consumer, where people have questions about their buying decisions and the brands they choose. They want to know brands on a more personal level before they decide to buy their products or services. Fortunately for brands and consumers alike, Ask Me Anything or AMA sessions provide the perfect platform to address these questions and build a closer relationship between brands and their customers.
So what are AMAs really and why do they make sense for businesses today? This post provides you with the answers and shows you how you can host your own AMA session. Let’s get into it.
What is an AMA and How to Use It for Your Brand?:
Understanding the Basics of AMA
Ask Me Anything or AMA refers to an interactive session on social media where an individual or organization invites people to ask them any question regarding a particular topic. The topic may be related to a trending discussion or a brand’s products, for example. It may even be about the company in general or about the individual’s expertise and personal experiences.
AMA sessions are conducted across leading social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Reddit is another popular choice for brands and individuals alike to conduct these sessions. They may be hosted via live streaming sessions or even through social media comments sections. The person answering the AMA questions may be an influencer, an industry expert, a celebrity, or even a high-level employee of the company.
The Significance of AMA: How It Benefits Your Business
So what’s the big deal about an AMA session? Wouldn’t it be better to create a blog post or video with the same information? The thing is, it’s just not the same. Here are some of the main benefits of Ask Me Anything sessions for brands.
Build a Personal Connection with Your Audience
AMA sessions allow for direct interactions with your audience. These interactions often take place in near real-time with the host answering questions through live streaming sessions or responding directly to people’s comments. In other words, you’re engaging with the audience without any intermediary. This helps you to build a closer, more personal connection with the audience, which is a great way to strengthen their loyalty to your brand.
Even in cases where you collect the questions first and answer them through another piece of content, you’re still answering them directly. You’re addressing their biggest concerns and showing them that you truly care about how they feel. As a result, they’ll feel more valued by your company, which in turn will help them feel a stronger bond with the brand.
Foster a Culture of Transparency
In an AMA session, companies and individuals alike set themselves up to answer even the toughest questions that could put their reputation at stake. However, having the courage to lay it all out in the open is a great way for businesses to improve transparency. It shows the audience that you’re not looking to hide anything and that you want to be honest with them. This fosters a culture of transparency, which will be closely associated with your brand identity.
Strengthen Your Brand Reputation
Increased transparency is an essential step to building a strong brand reputation. When you host AMA sessions where you answer even the hard questions, you can effectively build your reputation as a brand that cares about transparency.
Moreover, an Ask Me Anything session could create the perfect opportunity to address issues that could put your brand reputation at risk. For example, you could host a session specifically to address a recent controversy or rumor involving your brand. This allows you to clear the air and set the record straight, which leaves third parties with less opportunity to escalate the situation by adding their own narratives.
Bill Gates, for example, has conducted several AMA sessions on Reddit. Through these sessions, he addresses some leading concerns and controversies related to his actions and decisions.
byu/thisisbillgates from discussion
byu/thisisbillgates from discussion
How to Conduct a Successful AMA
From what you’ve learned so far, it’s clear that hosting the occasional AMA session could be a great way to connect with your audience and strengthen your community. So if you’re excited to get started, let’s take a look at the following steps and best practices on how to conduct a successful AMA.
Start with a Clear Purpose
First, have a clear idea of why you’re conducting the AMA session in the first place. What do you wish to achieve through this session? Starting with a clear purpose will help you get a better sense of how the session should be conducted, which formats to use, and so on. Here are some of the main reasons why businesses might want to host an AMA session:
- Promote an upcoming product. AMA sessions could be a great way to build excitement for your product launch by answering some pressing questions about features, release dates, and more.
- Share exciting news with your audience. An AMA session offers the perfect opportunity to share company updates and other important news directly with your audience.
- Collect feedback from your audience. You could use the AMA session to gauge their response regarding your product or initiative. That way, you can get a deeper understanding of your audience’s needs and preferences and pivot accordingly.
- Introduce a new employee, especially if they’re a new executive. An AMA session introducing new people could help your audience put a face to the name and build a more personal relationship with them.
Besides these, there may be a number of other reasons why you’d want to host an AMA session. In some cases, you may simply want to build community engagement with AMA sessions conducted at established intervals. For example, you might conduct an end-of-quarter session to update your audience about the progress you’ve made in that quarter.
In the following example, the owner of Essoldo Design decided to host an AMA session as a way to welcome her new followers. This is a great way to build a connection with newer followers, especially after experiencing significant growth.
Choose Your Channel Wisely
Which platforms and media channels does your target audience typically use? Are they more likely to stick to Facebook? Or do they explore other channels such as Reddit? Perhaps they don’t frequent social media as much but are more likely to read your blog.
Based on this information, choose a channel that would be most suitable for hosting your AMA session. For example, the target audience for a B2B company may be more likely to watch a live stream session on the brand’s website. Meanwhile, a B2C retailer may find that most of their target customers are active on Instagram. So it’s important to choose a channel that your target audience is most likely to use if you want to drive more participation for your session.
Decide on the Right AMA Format
Another crucial step is choosing an AMA format that works for you and for this specific session. Live streaming videos may be great for those who have a gift of the gab and can comfortably come up with great answers on the fly. However, not everyone may be comfortable with this or being on video at all.
Additionally, some topics may require more in-depth answers and, therefore, a little bit of time to put together. In this case, written responses may be a great alternative for hosting your AMA session. Moreover, you’ll have to consider your channel choice and decide on the format it supports. For example, Facebook would support both live video sessions and written AMAs whereas Reddit is exclusively for written AMAs.
Depending on these factors, it’s essential to carefully decide on the format that would work best for you. Some of the most popular AMA formats include:
- Live video sessions via social media or using live streaming software. Here, you may collect questions from your audience during the session and answer them in real-time. Alternatively, you can also collect questions beforehand and use the live session to answer them.
- Pre-recorded videos. This would involve collecting questions from your audience beforehand and then recording a video to answer them. The video may then be shared via social media or through your brand’s YouTube channel.
- Written AMAs on social media posts. You may collect questions through question cards on Instagram or through comments in your post. Then share the answers through a series of Stories or as replies to the comments.
- Written AMAs on newsletters or websites. Here, you can share the answers through your brand’s website or in a newsletter.
For instance, DuoKnows had an employee host an AMA session on Reddit. The employee announced the session through the r/AMA subreddit and answered the questions by responding to comments.
Posts from the ama
community on Reddit
Assess Possible Risks and Vulnerabilities
Companies aren’t always perfect. There may have been mistakes and decisions that were less than ideal in the eyes of consumers. These may pose a risk if someone brings them up during your Ask Me Anything session. As such, it’s important to carefully assess your company’s history, practices, policies, and decisions to identify any possible vulnerabilities such as these.
Think of any controversies your brand has been caught up in and how they may be used against you in your AMA session. That way, you can prepare a suitable answer that addresses people’s concerns without threatening your brand’s reputation. For example, you may have been associated with an influencer who recently made a controversial remark and faced public backlash for it. In this case, you’d want to issue an apology while also clarifying that the influencer is no longer associated with your brand.
By identifying your brand’s vulnerabilities, you can be prepared to answer the hard questions. Plus, you’ll have time to get your legal and PR teams to review those answers and make sure you’re not accidentally creating further problems for your brand.
Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Although the name says that these sessions are about “anything,” things could easily go out of hand if people really were asking about anything. If you’re spending too much time answering questions that aren’t very relevant to the topic, your session could very well go on for hours. Moreover, it could easily become boring to those who tuned in specifically to learn more about the topic at hand. So it’s important to set clear rules and boundaries ahead of time to ensure that the session stays on track.
Let your audience know beforehand how much time you can dedicate to the session or how many questions you can answer. It would also help if you’re focusing on a specific topic for each session. For example, one session may be dedicated to answering questions about email marketing challenges whereas another may be dedicated to new trends and technology in email marketing. In the following AMA, Dr. Michio Kaku specified that he would be answering questions about quantum computing or AI.
Announce Your AMA Session Across Channels
The whole point of conducting an Ask Me Anything session is to engage your audience. So you’d want as many people as possible to participate. This is why you should effectively promote the session across multiple channels and invite more people to ask their questions.
When The Chemical Brothers conducted a Reddit AMA, they shared news of the session through channels such as Facebook and Instagram. This allowed them to draw more attention to the session and drive increased audience participation.
Build Community with Engaging AMA Sessions
When conducted strategically, an AMA session can be a great way to drive direct engagement with your audience and build a strong community. However, it’s important to be prepared for some of the main challenges associated with hosting one. For starters, the large volume of questions can be overwhelming, which makes it crucial to have a system for sorting through them and picking the right questions to answer.
On the same note, you should also be prepared to answer the hard questions that might put your brand reputation at risk. Make the most of the tips and best practices we shared above to host an engaging AMA session.