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4-min read
June 14, 2022

Engagement Play #20: Ask Away

No matter the core focus of your community, one of the common reasons members join is to learn. And what better way to facilitate that than to have an expert available for them to flood with questions?

‘Ask me anythings’, best known as AMAs, are an excellent way to get your community engaging. Monthly AMAs have been among the most successful engagement initiatives ever run in the Slack Community, says Elizabeth Kinsey, Director of Community at Slack.

“This is an ongoing campaign of events that we started in 2021,” she says. “We bring in a specialist from Slack — it could be anyone from an executive to an individual contributor on a team — and open it up to questions in the Slack Community workspace.”

The Slack Community team tracks the success of each event with stats like registration and attendance, questions asked and answered per AMA, and the seven-day views of answers.

“They create so much great dialogue between the humans at Slack and the humans in the Slack Community! This event series consistently does well for NPS [net promoter score], and we get great feedback about the way that folks are able to directly connect with a wide variety of humans at Slack.”

Another perk is being able to use the content generated by these AMAs elsewhere.

“One thing we’re hoping to do better this year is pulling out some of the great content from these sessions to highlight outside of the Slack workspace.”

Slack is certainly not the only platform on which to host AMAs. In a previous role at Udemy, Jocelyn Hsu (now Senior Manager, Creator Community at Picsart) and the team hosted similar sessions on their forum.

“We usually had Q&A sessions around major product launches or strategy shifts to provide more context for instructors,” she says. “For example, when Udemy changed how they paid instructors who were part of their Udemy Business offering, we brought in the President of Udemy Business to do a Q&A session with the instructors.”

It was also a great opportunity for stakeholders to speak more directly with their instructors and hear their concerns and questions, Jocelyn adds.

“Community Managers are often the middle person or bridge between the customers and business. Taking away that step and directly connecting the two is really powerful.”

Tips for hosting a successful AMA

Find your expert

You know your members best — what might they be interested in learning? While having an internal expert is a great way to connect your organization to your members, external experts can also provide real value for your members. Also, don’t discount your members themselves — inviting them to host an AMA is a great way to amplify and elevate them.

Pick your platform

Don’t use Slack or a forum in your community tool stack? No problem.“The biggest key is having a way for people to submit the questions and view the answers,” Elizabeth says. “You could use a Google form to collect questions and answer them in a virtual event on something like Zoom, kick off a thread in a discussion group, etc.”

Prepare your AMA host

Make sure your expert knows what to expect. “A lot of people have never done something like this before so it’s helpful to walk them through the logistics of what to expect, whether it’s a live Q&A, video, or text-based,” Jocelyn says. “It’s also a good way to give them a sense of the type of questions to expect based on what you’ve been seeing community members say related to the topic.”

Make it an event

While AMAs can be hosted asynchronously, treating your AMAas you would a regular event with a hard start and end time can encourage your members to jump into the fray. Still, there’s no harm in experimenting to figure out what works best for your community.

Announce the AMA ahead of time

Give your community advance notice. Some folks might like to block out the time in their calendars to make sure they can attend. Announce the AMA on your community platform, social media, or newsletter several days ahead of time and again on the day.

Hype up your host

Who is your AMA host, and what do they have to offer your members? Ahead of AMAs in The Community Club, the team often publishes spotlights like these to tell folks about the expert. It’s atactic Elizabeth and the Slack team use too.“Folks like to know about the human being alongside the product,” Elizabeth says. “Include personal details like hobbies or unusual or interesting facts to vary the conversation and keep it human.”

Kickstart the conversation

No one likes to be the first to ask questions — there’s no harm in kicking it off yourself. If you’ve opted to remind folks again a few hours ahead of the AMA, you could ask them to start posting their questions right away, too.

On the hunt for more handy engagement plays?

You’re in luck — our Community Engagement Playbook features more than 50 of them! Head over here to download it for free.

Kirsti Buick
June 14, 2022

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