What you will learn
In this week’s podcast, Mark is joined by special guest Greg Elfrink from Empire Flippers.
Greg is the Content Manager there, with responsibility for blog posts, guides and podcasts.
But today, Greg is here to discuss how Empire Flippers has used Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything) to build their brand and generate leads.
The team at Empire Flippers managed to create a systemized process that allowed them to generate approximately 700 leads from the first AMA and over 1500 leads from the second one.
If your AMA goes well you should expect a spike in traffic. Make sure that you have a scalable hosting solution that can expand to handle the traffic. If the site goes down, all your hard work will be wasted.
How to Generate Leads with a Reddit AMA
STEP 1: Setting Up a Reddit AMA With the Moderators
The first step is to find the subreddit that you want to do your AMA in. This is obviously very specific to your niche.
For Empire Flippers, in the first instance, they chose the entrepreneur subreddit. This was because they were more interested in keeping the AMA general. Their target market is entrepreneurs who buy and sell websites.
In other niches, there will be more specific subreddits that are perfectly catered to your target market.
Once you have chosen the subreddit, the next task is to talk to the moderators of that subreddit. Message them and let them know what you are planning to do. This prior knowledge removes the possibility that a mod sees the thread and shuts it down.
However, to get pre-approval, you may be asked to provide proof that you are who you say you are and have achieved what you say you have.
In the case of the IAMA subreddit, Greg was asked to provide a Wikipedia page and an IMDB page. Although Empire Flippers did not have these, they were still allowed to proceed with the AMA.
The downside was that they were not added to the featured sidebar that outlines the scheduled AMAs.
For AMA in the entrepreneur subreddit, Empire Flippers provided Twitter accounts and verified that they were the people conducting the AMA.
Empire Flippers also post their income reports on their blog and may have been asked to link out to these to verify the claims of having sold more than $12 million worth of online businesses.
The main point to remember is not to make any claims that you cannot back up as you may be asked for proof.
To schedule the AMA, Swig from Empire Flippers did some manual analysis on the subreddit.
He spent a week trying to find a balance between the busiest time in terms of readers and a time where there are not too many competing threads.
This is good practice, even if it is just to understand the types of people that take part in that subreddit. It can also help you make final tweaks to your planned message.
STEP 2: Revving the Reddit Engine
Reddit has an insane amount of traffic already but Greg wanted to push as many people as possible to the AMA who already liked Empire Flippers.
The first step in driving this traffic is emailing your list, multiple times.
Once you have the AMA scheduled, send out a launch email. Then, when you get closer to the day, send out a couple of reminder emails.
Empire Flippers have an email list of around 40,000, so this was a great way to leverage additional traffic.
Reddit is infamous for it’s trolls, so having people that actually like you and what you do is important to drive engagement. Getting people to ask good, thoughtful questions prompts more people to join in the discussion. It’s a virtuous cycle.
The second way to promote the AMA is, once your AMA page goes live, post the link in relevant Facebook groups. Post it anywhere you have a relationship and, if possible, get the group owner to share it. The group owner has a lot more sway over the members than you do.
A plus of getting the owner to post means that you are less likely to get banned by Facebook. Although he was posting unique messages each time, Greg got banned by Facebook and wasn’t able to post in groups for a while.
He reckons this was because all the messages contained the same link to the AMA. Facebook must have an anti-spam algorithm that recognizes this and bans suspects of spamming.
As a workaround, you can split up a list and get several different people to post these messages to groups.
STEP 3: Gaming the Algorithm
As far as Greg can tell from his successful AMAs, the Reddit algorithm is based on three things: engagement, freshness and upvotes.
You want people to be on your thread for as long as possible and the best way to do this is to be hyper-responsive.
Respond to as many comments as possible, even dive into the sub-comments if you can and just doing everything in your power to keep the comments coming.
Upvotes are also really helpful. You may be conscious of getting a lot of upvotes but not moving up towards the top threads. Just bear with it. Reddit’s algorithm isn’t overly responsive, so it takes a bit of time for Reddit to understand what is going on and start moving you up.
In the entrepreneur thread, Empire Flippers were the biggest AMA in that subreddit and for the IAMA, they managed to get up to the first page but were beaten out of the top 10 by an owl with funny legs.
Reddit is a funny old place!
STEP 4: Using a Team to Be More Responsive
If you have a team, you are in a much more advantageous position. Empire Flippers got their entire marketing team, their sales team and their customer support team to log into their own Reddit accounts at home.
From there, they can downvote the trolls and upvote good comments to drive up engagement and keep the thread on track.
Once you get to the front page of whatever subreddit you are in, the thread just takes off. The number of questions just multiplies.
So, while Justin (Empire Flippers Founder and CMO) was answering all of the questions from his account, Greg was trawling for questions he could answer comprehensively, writing it up and slacking the answer over to Justin to post.
This was a great way to spread the burden; all Justin had to do was edit the answer so that it was in his own voice.
The Reddit trolls can knock your thread off track. The best way to deal with the trolls is to engage with the fun ones, don’t show that the nasty ones are getting to you and get your team to downvote it.
STEP 5: Create a Content Cheatsheet
Before you start the AMA, you should really think about how you want to monetize it.
Where do you want to send the traffic?
What the Empire Flippers team did was create a cheat sheet in Google Sheets.
They thought about the types of questions that people were likely to ask. From here they went through old content – blogs, guides, ebooks, podcasts – and added the link to them in the Google sheet.
One of the main questions that they got was: “What types of online business models are there?”
From there, Greg could link to a 12 article series of blog articles that explain individually each type of online business model.
What Were the Titles?
Headlines are super important.
So, to come up with the headlines, Greg, Swig and Justin sat and had a brainstorming session. From experience, it’s better to throw out a lot of ideas until you find the best answer than sitting together to try and craft the perfect headline.
After tweaking a lot and finding the right angle, the team finally settled on:
“IamA entrepreneur who sold more than $22M worth of online businesses and built a 100% remote company while traveling the world – all from my laptop. AMA!”
The only convention that you have to follow is to start the thread with “IamA” to show that it is an ask me anything thread.
If you are doing something in your own niche, you should think about something that is a major pain that your proposition solves. Frame the AMA around that and you are much more likely to get that initial engagement.
How Long did the AMA Last?
Due to the time difference, the team (based in Saigon) started the AMA at around 9 or 10PM and ended up not going to bed until around 5AM.
All in all, the entire session ended up lasting around 6 or 7 hours.
Would You Do Anything Differently?
The Facebook groups worked really well. If the team were to do another AMA, Greg says that he would contact more Facebook groups and earlier.
More or less, the plan would be to supersize the influencer strategy. So, on top of more Facebook groups, he would leverage relationships and partnerships.
Empire Flippers have a great relationship with Shopify. They clearly have a massive client base so leveraging that relationship could even help them break into that elusive top 10.
The launch is the most important part, so make sure that is planned out properly.
Another option could be to use Facebook ads but Empire Flippers haven’t used them in conjunction with Reddit.
Being Promotional in an Anti-Promotion Platform
Reddit is very anti-promotional.
So by using your content assets you can link to your site by providing value. The content cheat sheet is definitely an important aspect to have planned.
However, do not think you can’t link to lead capture pages.
Empire Flippers made an edit to their original post to give a bit more information and link out to two lead capture pages. One page to get a valuation for your website and the other for people to submit their site for sale.
The fact that Empire Flippers have gone back and edited the original post after providing loads of value, they were able to position these links as additional content that provides context to questions that have been asked in the session.
It’s probably not the right approach to be salesy on Reddit as the atmosphere can change very quickly. The audience can quickly turn against you.
When the traffic does come to your site, it can disappear very quickly. So Empire Flippers included an opt-in to capture emails along with a retargeting pixel. This can allow you to get more value out of the traffic.
An interesting point was that the traffic did not disappear right away. Over the next few weeks after the AMA, there was residual traffic still coming from Reddit. On top of the initial 600 leads, over the next three weeks or so an additional 300 or so leads came in.
If you are launching a brand, a Reddit AMA can be a great way to blow it up.
Most people are really focused on building backlinks and organic traffic but an AMA is a great way to generate some additional traffic and reach a very targeted group.
The things to bear in mind are to: make sure you have scalable hosting, create a content cheat sheet to answer the most frequently asked questions and to get your team involved.
It makes sense to start in a smaller subreddit to test things out and then work your way up.
If you want to check the value or are considering selling your site you can use the Empire Flippers Valuation Tool.