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The Blueprint for a Successful reddit AMA

Posted by Patrick on April 27th, 2015 in Resources

The Marketer's Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanniI took some time, this weekend, to read The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. It’s a free guide, 30 pages in length, available if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Paul and David are focused on helping marketer’s use reddit in a way that is authentic and respectful to the community. If it’s for marketers, why am I writing about it here? Because it’s really a guide to hosting an AMA, and AMAs, when done right, are definitely a form of community building.

David has written a couple of guest posts here. If I had a question about reddit, I’d ask them. And that’s why I read the guide.

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Until recently, at KarateForums.com, we had this old photo album feature. I say old because no one used it, it was just there. Once upon a time, about 13 years ago, we launched the photo album, and people used it. But, as time went on, they used it less and less until 2012, where they stopped using it at all.

What happened? People adopted the most practical use for sharing photos: posting them in the forums. More people would see them, and you could have a better discussion about them. It only made sense. I embraced that idea long ago and stopped actively promoting the photo album.

And yet, it was still there. Which isn’t really a good thing. Even if I remove all references to it, the fact that it is still online, powered by old PHP code, connecting to our database, adds to the likelihood of a potential security issue. At the same time, I didn’t want to just delete the album completely like it was never there.

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As artificial intelligence (AI) gets farther along and is adapted into more products, there will be more and more opportunities to use automated systems to converse with people in community and customer support efforts. Especially when they are asking something that a lot of people have asked.

For example, x.ai is a neat service that helps you schedule meetings through an automated personal assistant. Ryan Leslie, through his Disruptive Multimedia platform (which I like), encourages fans to text him and then puts them through an automated text message conversation to confirm that they have joined his music club.

We’ll only continue to see this more and more. There’s a lot of potential for it.

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If you are a particularly proactive community manager, you might notice when a member starts to become inactive and check in with them to make sure everything is OK or to see if there is anything you can do. In demonstrating that you care, you might be able to bring them back into the fold.

Why isn’t community software helping us do this?

I envision this working as follows. The person managing the community can define scenarios that would demonstrate a meaningful change in activity. For example, if a member has not made a post this week, but had made at least 30 posts in the 30 days before that, I want to see a flag in my dashboard.

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When it comes to banning and the purpose of banning, people often get it twisted. Even people who work in community management.

The purpose of banning isn’t to remove access as much as it is to curb behavior. Anyone who has been in this field for a little while knows that people can evade a ban and register another account. That’s not the primary point to banning.

The primary point is to provide a consequence for excessive and continual bad behavior. That consequence is the loss of reputation. While there is a group who won’t care, that’s a big deal for a lot of people. The desire to maintain their reputation is a powerful motivator for participating in line with the community guidelines and norms.

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Earlier this year, a member of KarateForums.com reached 25,000 posts on the community. The member, Brian Walker, is also a member of my staff, and I recently interviewed him for a feature on law enforcement officers who are also moderators. When he hit the mark, we posted an announcement and various members congratulated him and talked about how much he’s added to the community.

But I decided that I wanted to do more, to recognize Brian’s outstanding contribution to our community. I started a private forum thread that all staff members, except Brian, had access to. I used this thread to ask for ideas as to how we could honor Brian.

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Just over two years ago, I wrote about a restraining order issued in the state of Georgia, which was harmful to online communities. The order was requested by author Linda Ellis and targeted at Matthew Chan. Chan is the creator of ExtortionLetterInfo, an online resource and community that discusses (and criticizes) settlement demand letters issued by copyright holders.

Ellis authored a poem, “The Dash,” and has a reputation for aggressively pursuing those who share it online. According to Chan’s interview with Ars Technica in 2013, he was contacted by someone that Ellis had threatened. Instead of paying Ellis, they opted to pay Chan to publicize the incident. He used his website to criticize Ellis.

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Brian Walker is a patrol deputy in Kansas, who has been working in law enforcement since 2006. Alex Embry is a sergeant in Illinois and a member of his department’s SWAT team, having been involved with law enforcement since 2004.

Both Alex and Brian also happen to be longtime moderators for me on KarateForums.com.

I found the connection very interesting and so we sat down to discuss their work, on the community that I manage, and off of it. In part one of the conversation, we discussed the similarities between both positions, being seen as more than just an enforcer, and judgement calls and officer discretion. For part two, we touched on the dark side of authority: abuse of power and corruption.

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Plenty of celebrities use social media well, whether on their own or with some assistance. But one person who has stood out to me recently is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s become one of my favorite examples.

Currently, Schwarzenegger is primarily active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reddit and Snapchat, where he goes by ArnoldSchnitzel (no joke).

When I look at his profiles, I see promotion, certainly, but I also see a great authenticity that comes through by sharing his unique personality and what he cares about. He’s very accepting of the cultural influence he has had and embraces the moments from his career that are memorable for fans. If you watch enough of his videos, you might just see him throw in an “hasta la vista” or a “get to the chopper.”

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Homesteading TodayHomesteading Today is a very large online community dedicated to the practice of homesteading. The forum was acquired by Carbon Media Group (CMG) in July of 2014, as part of a large package of sites they bought from Group Builder.

Beginning late last year (according to this apology), the company started taking posts from certain sections of Homesteading Today and republishing them on other forums owned by CMG. The practice went unnoticed until a few days ago, when a member found that posts they had made on Homesteading Today were showing up on Cattle Forum, another CMG community.

The member, willow_girl, posted a thread talking about how she discovered that posts she made on Homesteading Today were showing up at Cattle Forum under the name “Alice.” She hadn’t made them and had no idea who Alice was. One of the posts shared a pretty personal story about saving a cow, which this Alice was now taking credit for.

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