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Using Quora for Personal and Business Benefit

2011 February 10
by Kari Rippetoe

I joined Quora and have been using it for a couple of months, after seeing all the buzz about it on Twitter in recent months (and since it’s my job to know about these things). Now, you might be thinking “ANOTHER social network? How am I going to keep track of this? And what use could this possibly be to me?” I don’t blame you for thinking this, because I thought the same thing at first. It seems like there’s a new social networking site every week, with claims from all over the social mediasphere about how it’s “the next big thing in social media.” It can get a bit tiresome, ya know?

QuoraNow that I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate Quora, I want to give you my initial thoughts, as well as provide a few opportunities and uses for Quora for businesses.

What is Quora, anyway?

My first thought when I started using Quora was Oh, this is like a cross between Twitter and LinkedIn Answers with some Wikipedia thrown in. You create a profile, “follow” some topics (and people) in which you’re interested, and post your own questions and/or answers to other questions. People can vote your answers up or down, comment on them, thank you for an answer, and even mark it as unhelpful (which essentially buries your answer). You can also follow individual questions within a topic to be alerted of answers that are added. So, there’s a lot of following going on.

The Wikipedia-esque part comes in the ability for people to edit your answers. Well, you can “suggest” edits to the original poster that they can choose to accept. This is where I’m slightly confused, though. Why would you suggest edits to someone else’s answer? It’s their answer – why not leave a comment, or post your own answer? Maybe there’s something glaringly incorrect about their answer, and rather than publicly call them out on it, you choose to suggest the correction. To me, though, this seems rather nit-picky. Am I wrong here?

That’s great, but how can I use Quora?

I hear ya. You don’t want to join yet another social network without knowing what you could possibly get out of it – both personally and business-wise. Let’s go through a few of these uses and opportunities:

Building Thought-Leadership: Follow topics in which you have some expertise and answer questions in those topics. Provide well thought-out answers that will help to position you as a go-to expert on that topic. You also have the ability to describe your experience on a particular topic, which people see when you post an answer within that topic.

Content Marketing: The questions and answers you post on Quora can be great fodder for other content – like blog posts, for instance. Use your questions for a specific topic as the basis for a blog post to get your readers thinking about answers. Or, create a blog post from your answer (and the answers of others) to someone else’s question. And hey – you can even connect your WordPress or Tumblr blog to Quora to make this easier!

By the way, Quora has a cool feature that gives you the ability to tweet a link to your answer to a question. This is great for cross-promotion between platforms, although I wish you could also post to your LinkedIn profile (makes sense, doesn’t it?).

Research: Quora covers a wide array of topics, so it’s dead easy to find a wealth of information on whatever you might be looking for. If you still can’t answer your question from what’s already there, post it and crowdsource answers!

Brand & Industry Monitoring: Run a search for an industry topic (like “Mobile Broadband”) or a brand (like “Verizon”) – the results are a treasure trove of information to help you gauge industry hot topics and customer pain points. It’s a great way to listen and participate in the discussions going on – both for thought-leadership and for customer support.

Expanding Your Network: Sure, there are loads of people from my existing networks that I’m following and who are following me on Quora; but I’ve managed to find lots of new people as well through mutually-followed topics and questions. These are incredibly smart people who I consider to be top of their game and post some really helpful answers to questions.

Are you using Quora? How have you found it useful (or not, even)? Tell us your opinion!

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