AMAs as a practical community building technique
I've seen AMA's grow in popularity over the years and they are great as a community building tactic.
AMA is short for Ask Me Anything. It is pretty self explanatory. People ask someone (generally experienced) something and said person tries their best to answer.
For community building they can be great because:
- 'experts' share their knowledge and the community gets to learn
- the community can participate in a small scale and not too scary way
- there can be a lot of value and insight to be gained from both the questions and answers that are given
- if you are lacking inspiration, the questions and answers can prove to be great sources of new ideas
- they can be a great way to cross over into different audiences or communities
- really you don't need a lot of questions to make it worth while. If you just get one question, make it really personable. I think anywhere 5+ is a good response. Getting too many can become overwhelming.
Most mediums can work
AMAs can literally happen anywhere:
- Blogs: get readers to submit a question, answer it as a blog post
- Videos: get viewers to submit questions, answer it as a video post. Just stick 'AMA' into YouTube search to see all the results!
- Substack threads: they have a nice threads feature which is essentially a mini forum. Here's one from People & Co.
- Instagram: as main post, videos or in stories, it's a great way to engage with followers.
- Any type of community, group or forum: Facebook groups, Slacks, Reddit and whatever you use to keep in touch. Here's how we've done it on Indie Hackers and Ministry of Testing.
- Podcasts: get your listeners to send in questions, answer it as an individual podcast or throw a bunch of answers into one single one.
- Twitter AMAs can be fun too, and often totally random. Often people just post them on the spur of the moment. And here's one I've done to be a bit meta!.
Call them anything you want
Many people call them AMAs, but you can call them whatever you want:
- People & Co called theirs Popcorn Hour.
- At Ministry of Testing we've done video AMAs, but we also do forum Power Hours, which are essentially the same thing.
Basically go with whatever is on brand and whatever helps it stand out that little bit better.
A great source of ideas and reusable content
When you run an active community there should be a never ending flow of ideas and content to repurpose. Every conversation and every answer can be used to spur on something else.
AMAs are no exception.
- use ideas from the content as future conversation starters or questions.
- create some quotes from them
- use them as a basis to generate new content, create more value or invite other people on board
- theme them to help guide the content and the community in the right direction
I don't think there is any best practice when it comes to AMAs and with most things consistency plus evolution always wins. Keep trying, keep experimenting. And if they really aren't working then move on to trying something else.