Rethinking the AMA model for a business opportunity
A FEW DAYS BACK, I had an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the ProdGeeks community. I went over to answer questions related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It was a good experience, but I believe it could have been better.
No, I don’t mean the community wasn’t welcoming; they were very warm and interactive. The platform, Slack, on which we carried out the session seemed very limiting.
Could there be a business built around AMAs?
Are threaded comments the right format?
While AMAs became big years ago when celebrities started carrying them out on Reddit, the essential nature of an AMA session is a forum built out of threaded comments. Threaded comments are the best format to consume the conversation afterward but not so much during the session.
Comments create too much clutter on the screen for the guest to follow. I’ll tell you how. In the beginning, you see a bunch of questions asked on the screen, which you start to answer one by one. You try hard to stay focused on the current one while new questions keep popping up all around.
With each new question that popped up, I wondered, “Should I club an answer to both of these questions into one?” “Um, these two questions look so similar!” “I need to keep this answer strictly confined to the current question so that I still have some new content to write about this next question that has popped up.”
It could be just me, but staying focused on the current question became a bit difficult when new ones come up all around the screen.
Now, imagine I’ve answered a question. Answers usually spark a mini-discussion under the comment itself, which is again very difficult to follow as there are dozens of them. Due to these mini-conversations that keep building up, answering questions becomes more like a hunting game.
Can the experience be improved?
With the idea that I have in my mind, I want to decouple the format in two versions – one for the guest answering the questions, and another for the participants.
For the participants, the experience can remain very similar. Participants can view the list of questions that have been asked and/or answered. They can “upvote” a question if they want to ask a related question. Upvoting causes questions with more demand to surface in front of the guest sooner than later. I am thinking, maybe, questions can be “downvoted” too by the community.
It will help eradicate the promotions and useless queries, and keep the conversation meaningful for everyone. With these tools at their disposal, the community can maintain the great quality of a session.
Giving the tools to the community is often the solution.
On the entire platform, the most exciting part would be the guests’ experience. Instead of putting them in middle of hundreds of questions demanding their attention, throw questions at them one at a time – sorted according to the demand.
At any given moment, there will only be one question in front of the guest that he/she can answer either in the text, audio or video. Just imagine, how fun it would become to use these other media to communicate because writing is not always the most convenient mode of communication.
I can think of one business model that can be built around it.
People are curious – curious enough to pay to know the answers. Internet celebrities can conduct AMAs where participants have to pay to get in. The platform facilitates the transactions and keeps a commission. A positive side-effect of this approach would be that it would eliminate all the trolls straight away.
I have done sessions where people have paid to join in, but this is a hypothesis that needs even more validation. This business model would come with a catch though: how do you grow the community fast enough after putting up a paywall?
That would be a question that I will leave you with.
Trust me, this last section is just a coincidence and was not planned at all. 🙃
While we are on the topic of questions and answers, I wanted to quickly let you know that I’ve started answering any blockchain-related questions via a 2-minute video. I receive dozens of questions every week, and they are often repeats. I thought if I could answer them via video, someone else too might find them valuable.
This article was republished here with permission from Unmade.
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