Good linkbuilding takes time and effort. In order to find the right opportunities for your brand to score a strong link, linkbuilders must find genuine opportunities to use their brand’s expertise to provide value to their target audience. One of the best ways to provide that value is by giving your audience something unique – for example, giving answers to questions that only an expert could give. And one of the best places to do that is on reddit in the form of an AMA (Ask Me Anything)!
If you’re unfamiliar with reddit, it’s a social news site populated with millions of users from all over the world (though mostly from English-speaking countries). AMA is an acronym for “Ask Me Anything” – it’s a popular activity during which the reddit community has a chance to ask questions of an expert, industry insider, or celebrity. This direct access to a personality appeals to the community, and AMAs have been hosted by people from all different walks of life, from President Barack Obama to a retired bank robber.
Barack Obama Answers Reddit’s Questions
Reddit and AMAs
Reddit is host to hundreds of thousands of individual communities called “subreddits.” These subreddits function as forums for sharing links and text, allowing users to comment on the content. There are subreddits for almost every topic and interest, including hobbies, humor, advice, news, and more. The user base skews young and male generally, but can be quite diverse by community.
Content (comments, text and links) is moderated in two ways. One way is by moderator teams who remove content that is inappropriate, illegal, offensive, or otherwise against the rules. The second, and more important way, is through a process of voting controlled by the users themselves – good content is “upvoted” and bad content is “downvoted.” The number of upvotes and downvotes decide the visibility of the content on the page – upvoted content goes to the top, and downvoted content disappears.
Reddit has numerous mechanisms built in to detect and shut down spam. However, an AMA is one of the only approved ways to place promotional content on most of reddit, because it provides unique value to the community. AMAs are an organic way for an expert or brand to interact with a community on a given subreddit. During an AMA on reddit, users can ask any questions they want (of course, the expert doesn’t have to answer if they don’t want to, but it can look inauthentic or dodgy sometimes if the expert selectively ignores “touchy” questions).
From an SEO standpoint, a link within your AMA will be very high engagement and can be targeted to the specific content you want to promote (plus, you can place it in the context of a community that is highly relevant to the search traffic you’re targeting). Users also appreciate the link, as it can provide background for your organization, expert, or subject matter.
Deciding Whether to Run an AMA
AMAs aren’t right for everyone. In order to decide whether to host an AMA, you’ll first need to decide whether you have an expert to offer. If you’re at an SEO company, you’ll want to talk to your client to get a feel for whether they’re comfortable with putting forward an expert. AMAs are highly focused on the knowledge and experience of an individual, so you should choose a person who has a title or role that is impressive enough to command expert level authority on a subject.
Once you’ve found your expert, identify their areas of expertise and use them for topic ideation and identifying an audience who would be interested in them. Think creatively here – there are tons of communities out there, and you’d be surprised at the niches that could fit for your expert!
For example, let’s say you are a management consulting company – not the most glamorous of topics, but what you provide is certainly valuable to your customers. One of your core offerings might be identifying process inefficiencies, particularly in startups and small businesses. We can see the makings of a great AMA already here – your expert can provide highly niche information about common inefficiencies at startups, including insider anecdotes and examples that would intrigue an audience who cares about entrepreneurship.
Once you’ve identified a topic, your next step is to find the best subreddit for your AMA. This can be tougher to determine, because finding the subreddit for your topic isn’t always obvious. Some subreddits are named sensibly (like /r/dogs), others are a little weirder (like /r/makeupaddiction), and some are really tough to identify by their name alone (like /r/IWantOut – referring to people wanting to move from their home country). To pick a subreddit, starting by searching the subreddits. Usually it’s as simple as entering your expert’s topic in the search bar of the subreddits section and clicking on the top results. Sometimes you can find larger, more active subreddits that aren’t as obviously named by looking through the sidebars of related subreddits. Of course, if you just can’t find one, there’s always the /r/IAmA subreddit, which is completely devoted to AMAs across topics.
After you’ve got a subreddit, or a few to choose from, you want to qualify it to make sure it will be suitable for an AMA. The first questions to ask are whether there are enough subscribers for the subreddit, and whether the subreddit’s user base is active. For example, let’s say you have an immigration expert. You decide that this expert could be of use to a community of expats with questions about the legal requirements for moving abroad, so you search the subreddits for “expats” and find /r/expats/. It has ~3,900 subscribers (at the right side next to the subscribe button) – which actually isn’t very many. The subreddit is somewhat inactive, with a post every day or so. However, in its sidebar, there are a few other options for subreddits in the same subject matter area.
Sidebar of /r/expats
Here, you find /r/IWantOut, which is far more active, with ~51,500 subscribers, multiple posts per day, and active comments sections – this seems to be a much better bet for an AMA.
Subscribers of /r/IWantOut
The next question to ask is whether the subreddit allows AMAs. There are a few ways to do this – one is to search for previous AMAs within the subreddit, using search terms “AMA” and “Ask Me Anything.” If there are previous AMAs, did they get engagement? Did users ask questions and upvote the post? You can also check whether the subreddit explicitly allows or forbids AMAs in the rules, usually posted in the sidebar. If there are no rules posted, you can message the moderators to ask about the rules. This can be done at the bottom of the sidebar in the moderator box.
Tips for Running Your AMA
Generally you’ll want to message the moderators of your chosen subreddit and let them know that you’re preparing to do an AMA. Create a reddit account that matches your company name or your expert’s name, and use it to message the moderator team for the subreddit you’re targeting – tell them about your expertise and why it’d be a good fit. Transparency will help you get it done!
Next, announce your AMA. It’s a good idea to do this the day before. Give a brief intro and a date and time for the event – here’s an example of an announcement from a custom suit store in New York City, Alan David Custom. (Notice that the AMA is highly targeted to the subject matter of the subreddit, men’s fashion. This AMA sets out to answer questions about custom suits, tuxedos and tailoring – the perfect crossover between Alan David Custom’s business and the subreddit’s audience’s interests. This is the kind of synergy you want to look for in planning your AMA.)
You will also need to verify your account with the moderator team to show them that you are who you say you are. The easiest way to do this is to make a post announcing the upcoming AMA on an official social media account.
Now, to the fun part – posting your actual AMA. Here’s an example of how an AMA post can look. The day of, post your AMA about 30 minutes before the time you announced, and also before your expert expects to start answering questions. This will give time for the community to upvote it and start getting some questions rolling in. Make sure you include the words “Ask Me Anything” or “AMA” in the title. Note: this is also when you add in your SEO backlink, in the text description for the post!
When answering the questions, be polite and helpful, don’t misrepresent yourself, and don’t be promotional. The community will call you out on blatant self-promotion! (One exception: if a product, service or content piece speaks specifically to a question that was asked, it’s ok to post a link or suggest your own brand as an option.) In terms of your tone, you can be a bit informal or joking. The community tends to appreciate honesty and humanity and likes to see that the experts have a personality.
As far as choosing what to you want to answer – there’s no obligation to answer a nasty or aggressive question, but it is a good idea to address the top upvoted questions. You’ll want to be on hand to answer questions for at least an hour.
AMAs and AMA announcements should be done using text posts, not by submitting a link. Make sure you use formatting, as this will allow you to add links, line breaks, bulleted lists – all super important!
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This article was updated with the latest industry information on December 16, 2016.