Barack Obama Crashed Reddit! Wait … What’s a Reddit?

There have been a lot of firsts for this Barack Obama.

Of course, he is the first African American President of the United States. The first sitting president to support marriage equality. And now, the first president to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.

OK, so the first AMA might not have been an immediate thrill for everyone, but in terms of building relationships with supporters, this is a huge deal.

In the most simple terms, Reddit is a crowdsourcing social news site that displays content based on popularity as decided by the community. Users vote content up or down and can comment on each other’s posts. Approximately two-thirds of Reddit’s users are male, and the most common age is 25-34.

To Reddit’s biggest fans, the site is a lot more than just that. There are subscriptions and karma, subreddits and an occasional addiction to memes. But one of the most popular features is the AMAs (Ask Me Anything). Time is scheduled for a popular Reddit user to answer any questions the community has. Questions are then voted up or down and responded to by the host in real time.

The President kicked off his AMA yesterday by inviting his followers on Twitter to hop over to Reddit and join in.

Over on Reddit he answered 10 questions ranging from the influence of money in politics to when the White House beer recipe will be shared with the public. Almost immediately the Internet was buzzing with excitement, and within minutes of getting started Reddit came crashing down.

Crashing aside, the President’s foray into Reddit was a huge success. The President’s AMA had 3.8 million page views on the first page and more than 22,000 comments—and both numbers continue to climb.

In an age when most candidates are confined to strict talking points and carefully scripted campaign events, the President’s openness to authentic dialogue with everyday citizens was a breath of fresh air.

Whether it is Reddit’s AMAs or live Twitter chats, social media can produce some incredible strides toward building lasting relationships with supporters.