AMA stands for Ask Me Anything and is a form of question and answer session that originated on the subreddit r/IAmA. The purpose of these Q&As is for people to be able to ask any questions they want of a person who is either an expert in their field or someone with a specific experience.
Some famous real examples of AMAs from Reddit are:
- I’m a lobster diver who recently survived being inside of a whale. AMA!
- I spent 21 years in prison for a murder I didn’t commit, and my story was just made into a movie. AMA.
- We are Blue Man Group, Ask Us Anything!
- I’m a dad who quit his job 5 years ago to make board games with my wife. We have now sold over $2 million in games. Ask me anything!
- I’m Conan O’Brien, host of CONAN on TBS and renowned microbiologist. Ask me anything!
As you can see, while some of these are just interesting people many of these AMAs seem quite promotional. This is why AMAs are considered a marketing tool. This type of direct Q&A can be very effective for both community and brand building, as well as PR.
Important things to know about AMAs
While you can host your own AMA, it is typically a better idea to feature on an existing one so that you can access a wider audience. To be featured on an existing AMA you generally need to:
- Have an interesting expertise, experience, or job, or be newsworthy somehow
- Be willing and able to verify that you are who you say you are
The point of an AMA is that it happens at a specific time – it is essentially a live event. This means you need to answer a lot of questions in a short time period for it to be worthwhile.
You should also be aware that if you have a bad reputation then an AMA could simply open you up to public ridicule (this has happened many times). Also if you are boring, use obviously PR manufactured lines, or are not open and honest when answering questions then you will possibly hurt your reputation.
However, if you are willing and able to answer a lot of questions openly and honestly (and helpfully) in a short period of time then AMAs can be an excellent opportunity. An AMA is not a promotional event (and should not be treated as one) – but if you are likeable that can have positive knock-on effects.
Note: There is also a variation of AMA which is AMAA – which stand for Ask Me Almost Anything. This is a way of showing upfront that you will not be happy to answer every possible question. However, it should only be used when you have an obvious reason for it (such as a lawsuit prohibiting you etc) as otherwise, it undermines the power of the AMA format.