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The True Social Power of Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything)

The True Social Power of Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything)
By Asher Feldman

Forget late night talk shows, long form magazine profiles where the reporter explains what you’re eating or those daytime panel free for alls — the best way to get your message to the people these days is simply by sitting behind the keys of a computer.

Celebrities (and their publicists) have come around to utilizing Reddit, “the front page of the internet,” as a key stop on promotional tours. With more than 16 million unique users each month since October, it’s no wonder. And bringing your big name to the question and answer forum subreddit r/IAmA and its more than 5.2 million subscribers offers A-list-celeb exposure potential.

But how useful is Reddit as a promotional tool, really?

Does answering whether you’d rather face 100 duck-sized horses or a singular horse-sized duck get you the bang for your buck (or your typing time)? Using social analytics, we can determine just how powerful Reddit has become as a platform for promotion — oftentimes to the chagrin of the most devoted Reddit users.

General Sentiment focused in on a sample of 19 of the site’s most popular AMAs (Ask Me Anything) from March 15 to April 15. From movie stars like Harrison Ford to World War II vets to authors and professors, some of the top-rated AMAs since mid-March have proved just why the AMA is such a popular forum — you can learn anything about anyone who offers themselves up.

Using the General Sentiment social analytics platform, we compared both overall volume of media mentions across the social web and tonality of the conversation regarding the subjects of the 19 AMAs to measure how well spent time on Reddit is. And the answer seems clear — it’s totally worth it.

Of the 19 AMAs, the subject of the AMA saw their overall media mention volume grow by more than 174 percent on average during the day of their AMA and the next two days compared to the month leading up to the AMA.
 

 
None saw a bigger bounce than “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola, whose mentions jumped by nearly 600% after answering questions about discussing multi-legged nightmare creatures with Guillermo Del Toro and his Batman covers.

Comedian Hannibal Buress saw a similar bounce after he explained to the assembled Reddit crowd that his mom wanted to name him Louis and discussed whether or not he was a “juice comic.”
 

 
But it’s not only volume of chatter that goes up — bringing your message to the people also raises your status with the people of the web. By measuring sentiment during the same time frames, General Sentiment calculated that average sentiment for the 19 participants went up by more than 30 percent when comparing the before and after AMA time periods.

“Game of Thrones” star Peter Dinklage saw a 102 percent sentiment bump in the days following his well-received Reddit AMA, where he discussed his lack of a hairbrush and his love of hummus. Meanwhile former “Jeopardy” champion Ken Jennings saw a 140 percent increase in sentiment after he named his dream Jeopardy contestant panel.

Understandably, all of these AMAers had something to promote, so while the correlation between volume and AMA appearances is convincing, it is not as verifiable, given the extensive promo tours each celeb, major or minor, endures. The sentiment spikes enjoyed by most of the AMA subjects, however, suggest Reddit is truly a strong and, more importantly, a positive platform to get your message to the consumers.

Just make sure you don’t try to push too hard — a quick search for “Rampart” might let you know why Woody Harrelson isn’t going back to Reddit anytime soon.

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Asher Feldman

Asher Feldman is an analyst at General Sentiment, a Long Island, N.Y.-based social media analytics firm. Find them on Twitter @gensent.
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