Posted 06.20.2024 by Josh Krakauer

AMAs for Brands: Are They Worth It?

Excited about the idea of doing an AMA for your brand? Read this guide first, and think twice before going for it.

If there’s a constant in marketing, that’s brands looking for fresh ways to connect with their audience.

Some of these ways come and go fast (as most flash trends do) while others stick around, becoming market-proven marketing solutions.

There’s a third category too, reserved for actions that can produce good results but are still pretty unpredictable – and thus, less used by brands.

The Ask Me Anything (AMA) format fits this description like a glove.

AMAs can produce a great deal of positive exposure and valuable interactions, but they can also turn out irrelevant, and even risky if interactions get out of hand.

So, what makes AMAs tick for brands?

Let’s dissect them to understand how these digital conversations work, and see how they can help break down the walls between brands and consumers.

What is an AMA?

Ask Me Anything (AMA) is a popular format for online interactions where an individual invites a community to ask questions over a limited period time (usually, between one and two hours) and answers them in real-time.

Individuals hosting AMAs tend to be notable figures ranging from celebrities, field experts, and brand ambassadors to regular people who’ve gone through extraordinary circumstances.


In a way, an AMA is like an online press conference, where a person answers questions from the audience in real-time.

However, there are a few key differences between both, including:

  • AMAs are more informal and support open-ended questions and conversations.
  • AMAs are focused on direct engagement and authenticity (while most press conferences feel like a forced chore to disseminate talking points).
  • AMAs are often community-driven, not agenda-driven (although this isn’t always the case, and AMAs can follow an agenda as well).

How is an AMA different from a Q&A session?

Both AMAs and Q&A sessions involve answering questions from an audience, but there are important differences in format, structure, and intent.

First of all, anonymity plays a relevant role in AMAs, allowing for questions that you wouldn’t find in a more structured Q&A. An AMA host doesn’t have to be anonymous, but they can if they want to.

Second, the nature of questions.

AMAs are known for their openness to a wide range of questions, while Q&As are often used to clarify information and address specific queries related to a presentation or topic.

Finally, there’s the setting. AMAs happen almost exclusively on social media.

Q&As, on the other hand, tend to be integrated into events, presentations or conferences as a segment within a predefined agenda.

Where do AMAs take place?

AMAs originated on Reddit in a more or less spontaneous manner, and got their dedicated community in 2009.

Since then, their popularity has extended beyond Reddit and into other platforms, including:

  • Instagram: AMAs leveraging Instagram’s Live feature allow for real-time interactions, with questions submitted by users in the comments.
  • TikTok: Similar to Instagram, TikTok’s Live feature is also used for AMAs. In addition, it’s not rare for TikTok users to ask for questions in the comments, and then create a video with the answers. Also, there’s an available channel that gathers AMA posts for you to explore.
  • X: Brands and individuals often conduct AMAs on X (formerly Twitter) using dedicated hashtags and threads to organize and answer questions.
  • Forums and communities: These operate in a similar manner than Reddit AMAs, but are hosted in dedicated communities where there’s a clear relationship between the main community topics and the interests of the audience.
  • YouTube and Twitch: Live video streams can be used for AMAs, allowing participants to answer questions in real-time.
  • Discord: While rarer, AMAs take place on Discord as well, leveraging its real-time, text-based interactions to answer community questions.
  • Snapchat: Not the most common platform for AMAs, but certainly equipped for it thanks to question stickers! If your audience is heavy on Snap, the platform is more than ready to support you.
  • AMA platforms: Almost exclusively used in corporate environments, platforms like Slido and Mentimeter are the go-to solutions when companies need to organize AMA sessions to increase the volume and reliability of employee participation.

Types of AMAs

From traditional Reddit threads to live video sessions on Instagram, AMAs come in different shapes that offer some interesting options. These are:

  • Live vs pre-recorded AMAs: While AMAs are supposed to be live, some prefer to receive questions in bulk, and then record the answers in a subsequent installment.
  • Organic vs branded: Most AMAs are organic in nature, meant to pique the interest of the audience on a topic, deliver answers, and create conversations. However, there are also sponsored and branded AMAs whose secondary goal is to channel interest in a brand, service, or product.
  • Curated vs open: AMAs aren’t supposed to be curated, but depending on the potential ramifications of the conversation, the AMA host might decide to curate incoming questions based on relevance, pertinence, and other factors.

These are subtle differences that must be taken into account by brands, as they’re usually subject to more scrutiny and harshness than other AMA hosts.

Examples of AMAs

Time to step beyond the theoretical and into tangible AMA examples.

The following examples serve as great reading material, but also as proof of the dynamics and impact that define the AMA experience.

1. Branded AMA example: Ben Barnes

Ben Barnes is an English actor playing General Kirigan, the main villain on the Netflix series “Shadow and Bone”.

In early 2023, he did a successful AMA session on the r/television subreddit, gathering over 1,500 questions and comments in the process.

ben barnes ask me anything

This is a prime example of a branded AMA, promoting both the series and the streaming platform through interactions between one of the show’s stars and its audience.

On top of promoting the show, the AMA cuts to the chase from the get-go, inviting the audience to check the trailer for the (then) upcoming season, and also to follow the actor on Instagram.

The result was excellent, and so much better than the average show promotion interview we’re used to seeing {out there.

2. Curated AMA example: Kim Hawes

Kim Hawes is a tour manager turned writer that spent years on the road working for legendary bands like Motorhead, Black Sabbath, and Rush.

In 2023, she did an AMA to share her experiences and promote her book.

The AMA gathered lots of attention (5k+ reactions and 600+ comments), even though it was heavily curated by her publisher.

kim hawes ask me anything

This is an obviously branded AMA where the host is also open about curation, making it a rare case in its own right.

However, it’s also a good example of how a brand can keep the audience engaged by giving them some – but not all – of what they want.

Organic AMA example: Bar owner from Dublin

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, a bar owner from Dublin named Gar does an AMA to share his experiences about running a pub on the busiest day of the year in an iconic place (for drinkers, at least).

Gar is no celebrity or VIP, but his circumstances are extraordinary – the key factor that allows him to host AMAs like no other bar owner on earth.

ask me anything running a pub

The result is a keeper: A long conversation that feels like a pub talk in itself, keeping the audience engaged with the most ridiculous questions you can think of.

What makes an AMA successful?

The success of AMA sessions is subject to a number of factors that contribute to a positive and engaging experience for both the host and the audience.

In summary, here’s what you should strive for:

  • Authenticity: AMA hosts who express genuine thoughts, share personal anecdotes, and maintain authenticity resonate more with the audience. Authenticity builds trust and fosters connections.
  • Timely responses: An AMA is not a waiting room, and failing to deliver answers on time will drive people away. Bear in mind that when interest is piqued, it only takes a couple of seconds for users to check whether the host is answering or not!
  • Openness to questions: Expect to get difficult, weird, abnormal questions, and be ready to answer those. Successful AMAs live and breathe by questions and answers you can’t find anywhere else.
  • Promotion: To increase chances of engagement, promote in advance. You can anticipate topics and hint answers to create momentum. Also, it’s vital that you share the date, time, and platform where the AMA will take place.
  • Noteworthiness: The most important factor of all – the person hosting the AMA must have something that makes them attractive to the audience. Whether knowledge, fame, or circumstances, this is an element that cannot be missed when doing AMAs.

On top of this, a successful AMA is bound to play by the rules of the platforms and communities that support them.

This is particularly relevant for Reddit, where AMA guidelines are heavily enforced to keep the AMA community focused on what matters the most: Interesting topics, insights, and conversations.

So, are AMAs worth it for brands?

Based on the examples and definitions shared in this article, you might think that AMAs are definitely worth it when it comes to driving brand awareness or promoting specific products and services.

And you’d be right – to a point.

First of all, the topic, circumstances and hosts are paramount: If any of these fail, the AMA won’t fly.

However, if you’re able to match the brand with the right audience, and bring interesting topics to the table at the right time, chances are that people will interact.

In summary, brands should consider doing an AMA as long as they:

  • Show genuine expertise and unique insights on a topic or area that drives interest from a significant audience.
  • Are able to sustain a long, open with users and keep it authentic at all times.
  • Can weather questions with clarity and transparency.
  • Bring something new to the conversation (this can be a perspective or angle as well).
  • Have a brand ambassador to handle the conversation and represent the brand during the AMA.

After reading this, it’s time to ask the final question: Is your brand ready for an AMA?

If you’re still unsure or on the fence about it, feel free to drop us a line and we’ll explore the possibilities together!

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that B2B social media agency you just discovered. Josh has launched social media campaigns for best-selling books, publicly-traded corporations, and early-stage startups. Josh works from Washington, DC, but still thinks Iowa City is the best city on earth.

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