Barack Obama hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on Wednesday, August 29th. He answered ten questions, a combination of political and personal ones. If we judge AMA solely on his responses, he did not reveal anything that we did not already know his campaign platform. His responses to personal questions were more interesting and helped paint the picture of a down to earth man. Understandably, he played it safe with his responses.
Overall, Obama’s (or his campaign staff’s) decision to host an AMA was a great social media marketing play that will drive visibility to his campaign. The actual responses in his AMA may not be comprehensive enough to sway someone’s vote, but it garnered a lot of online buzz and calls attention to his campaign right in the middle of the Republican National Convention. The AMA was not announced beforehand, but it managed to attract so many visitors to Reddit that the site crashed.
The majority of Reddit users were respectful and asked valid questions. Even the ones who asked joking questions were well behaved. Considering the potential risks involved in doing an AMA on Reddit, whose users are not afraid to raise serious questions or call out individuals (see Woody Harrelson’s AMA disaster), Obama and his campaign team should be commended for doing it in the first place. He did not speak as candidly as some other public figures had done during their AMAs, but then again, this IS the President of the United States we’re talking about. Mitt Romney and other politicians might decide to use Reddit in the future, but Obama will always be remembered as the first incumbent or presidential candidate to host an AMA.