What is it?
Sort of Wikipedia-meets Twitter–meets 20 questions. Well, whatever it is, it’s taken the online world by storm since its general launch barely a year ago. Meet Quora: “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by users.” The idea is that the page becomes the best source of information for whoever requires it.
Quality-control is achieved collaboratively, as users “vote up” their favourite answers (or those they perceive to be of highest quality), meaning that quality pushes the answer to the top of the page.
Sign up via Twitter, Facebook or email, link up automatically to your friends, followers and contacts, along with relevant subject areas that will be automatically suggested. Ask questions, follow questions, endorse answers by voting for them. Share your answers and questions via Twitter and Facebook. It’s a perfect example of the connected social web.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that a couple of ex-Facebook guys set it up.
Why should I care?
Context is king: According to TechCrunch, Quora is one of 7 Technologies That Will Rock in 2011 because it allows users to define themselves by not just friends and followers, but introduces interests and knowledge into the equation.
It’s a great example of where multiple platforms and functionalities (a wiki plus social networks plus collaboration plus moderation, for starters) converge. This is how the future web looks – highly converged, micro-organised and mega-curated by users, and real-time.
By comparison, Wikipedia, which has pretty comfortably ruled the kingdom of crowdsourced informative content til now, looks a little static, sluggish and far less accountable by comparison.
Not only that, but Quora provides a really interesting hotline to major corporations, bloggers and ordinary Joes on very specific topics, which you may not otherwise have. For example, Pete Cashmore is on, answering questions directed at him, and you’ll likely find a whole bunch of your social media contacts there too, in addition to a whole new audience of the information-hungry, curious and collaborative. So in social media reach terms, it’s a winner.
How is it useful for marketers?
Quite a few uses are immediately apparent:
1. Intelligence: Quora provides an information source for whichever topic you choose – adding more context as users share experiences, information and opinion.
2. Adding value: Set up an account, monitor for questions on topics pertinent to your business (directly or indirectly) and add value by providing answers, information and shareable resources.
3. Engagement: Build relationships with influencers by engaging on specific topics, asking for opinions and providing feedback.
4. Monitoring: Currently no specific analytics available, but organic monitoring will provide useful information on what’s hot at a given time, and within specific communities
Kate Spiers is director of Wisdom London, an integrated communications agency with a pragmatic approach to social media. If you’d like to find out more about how to embrace social media as part of your integrated communications approach, get in touch: email@example.com
Follow Kate on Twitter here
Oh and PS: Here’s my Quora profile