Guest post by Andrej Hendelja
Social news sites are an excellent way for users to chime in and contribute on a particular story. Many social news sites feature rating and ranking system that allow items that interest the user base to filter up through the rankings. Digg was a forerunner of this model and helped pave the way for social news sites to bring the public information the mainstream media did not. In recent years, Digg has experienced a slow down and backslide in interest from the community. Reddit provides many of the same great benefits with a number of features. At present, Reddit averages approximately 35 million visitors per month.
A web user looking to build familiarity and their expertise should take a moment to start a thread in the Ask Me Anything (AMA) section of Reddit. Ask Me Anything provides a platform for a person to take their individual experience and expose it to a greater audience. It provides an excellent opportunity to help a person demonstrate their expertise and knowledge in a very meaningful way that could potentially build new business contacts.
Just how popular is the Ask Me Anything section of Reddit? Celebrity appearances from such people as Stephen Colbert, R.A. Salvatore, Bear Grylls, Louis C.K, Zach Braff, and many others have generated tens of thousands of replies in their respective discussions. A great opportunity exists for anyone with quality information to provide and a thick enough skin to deal with the Internet going public in that arena. The AMA section gives you the ability to reach out directly to build rapport and better relations with those people.
It is far too easy to incorrectly use a piece of technology if a person does not have a solid understanding of the impact. Woody Harrelson is one such example. A significant following of people posted an AMA request for Harrelson to chime in and interact on Reddit. He failed to show to answer any questions or interact at all. The result was a significant backlash against him for ignoring a vocal portion of his fan base that may have helped him reach different people. The mistake generated plenty of negative publicity around the incident due simply to Harrelson not responding to or understanding the ramifications thereof.
The community at Reddit is self-policed in general. Quality information can be up voted while bad information can be down voted. Several different types of people and users come together to exchange information on Reddit, thus it is easy to find those passionate about some very obscure celebrities or topics. Junk content filters to the bottom of the pile efficiently as Redditors explore what is being offered.
The AMA section and community offer an interesting pairing of public relation building tools. On one hand, there are the positive interactions. On the other, you have trolls. It is not uncommon for disruptive people, known as trolls, to ask pointless questions or attempt to pick fights for the sake of causing chaos. Interacting with the public on Reddit guarantees a person’s path will eventually cross with trolls. All online communities have them.
Learning to ignore the trolls or counter their behavior with humor of your own are the only effective ways to handle them. Responding in anger or posting threats will just have them coming back for more entertainment. Be prepared to contain these negative interactions to keep the experience positive and potential damage to a minimum. “Don’t feed the trolls!”
Andrej is a longtime Redditor and PR student doing marketing research for a Long Island elevator company.