Just before Christmas I blogged on our use of Facebook Live to engage our social media followers in a new way about our research and expertise. This time it's the turn of another social media tool: Reddit's 'Ask Me Anything' (AMAs).
Since the start of the year, we've promoted two AMAs - first with Saiful Islam, fresh from the Royal Society's CHRISTMAS LECTURES, and just recently with Joanna Bryson on Artificial Intelligence - both of which attracted huge online audience and engagement.
A brief history of AMAs
AMAs were created by the Reddit community as an opportunity for interesting individuals to field questions about anything and everything. Over the past few years, high profile AMAs with Barack Obama, Sir David Attenborough and Elon Musk have generated lots of interest in Reddit and AMAs in particular.
In an effort to bring science education to the masses, Reddit's Science community (known as /r/Science) has used this model to create an independent, science-focused AMA Series – the Science AMA Series. Its goal is to encourage discussion and facilitate outreach while helping to bridge the gap between practising scientists and the general public. This is something that is open to any research scientist, or group of
scientists, that wants to have a candid conversation with the large, diverse and normally very well informed Reddit Science community.
How it works and why it's beneficial
Reddit describes its AMA Series as 'a unique format' in that it allows scientists to speak about their work in a manner that is not possible within the confines of traditional short-form journalism. Via AMAs,
questions can be explained individually and follow-up points fielded so that the readers have a clearer understanding of the field and research being discussed.
AMAs are particularly useful for researchers looking to clarify their findings and expand upon their results in situations where the mainstream press releases were too limited to accurately convey their work. In this way AMAs are often referred to as an 'open source interview'.
Reddit's Science community extends to more than 13 million so it's a huge opportunity to get research and expertise in front of an engaged audience. All you need to take part is a few free hours and a computer.
How our AMAs fared
To date, Saiful's AMA had a total reach of 7.5 million, with 5,080 votes and nearly 10,000 users clicking through read his answers. Joanna's had a total reach of 19.54 million, with over 14,002 votes and over 41,000 users clicking through to read her answer to AI-related questions. Both generated lots of social media engagement, which also fed through to media coverage. Joanna's AMA was picked up by Tech Crunch - a channel which is followed by over 8,000,000 on Twitter.
If you'd be interested in being put forward for an AMA please let us know and we'll look for opportunities.