Quora: Five challenges and solutions for brands

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Over the last few days Quora, the ‘question and answer’ community, has enjoyed a huge surge in interest.

I created a Quora profile a few months ago after reading about it in a few blog posts with people predicting that it would be the next ‘big thing’ in social media.

But, like most new platforms, an active community needs to be in place before it becomes useful (a classic chicken and egg scenario) so I didn’t revisit it again until today.

Now that it is adding users it is time brands started to think about how they’ll participate on the platform.

Here are some initial thoughts from me, and hopefully you’ll add yours to the mix…

Quora – why brands need to take notice

The premise is simple: People ask and answer questions about a variety of topics.

These questions are often about products and services which, in effect, extends the Q&A forums most brands house on their websites / blogs.

This gives brands a chance to answer questions posed by customers, ensuring the correct information is provided and misinformation is managed.

Quora allows users to justify why they are best placed to answer questions on certain topics, adding weight to responses given.

Quora – external engagement agents

Quora is the latest example of why brands need to authorise at least one member of staff to take part in conversations off their own platforms.

The obvious choice is a community manager (if you have one) or for bigger organisations subject specialists might fill this role.

Quora – linking to ‘owned’ channels

It makes sense to highlight the members of your team authorised to answer questions on behalf of your brand on your own channels.

There are a few reasons for this, but primarily, it will authenticate answers provided on Quora and discredit any brand-jacking attempts.

Quora –  content curation and facilitation

In most cases, brands should have the answers to questions asked on Quora, so the facilitation of this process will not requires masses of ‘new’ content.

Fortunately, external links can be featured in responses so users can be directed to content on owned channels without too much hassle.

Quora – adding value

Quora is a great example of platform that lends itself to natural value adding behaviour.

It is still early days, but I imagine lazy users will predominantly use Quora to ask questions as opposed to answering them.

This is the clear opportunity for brands.

This is essentially an open invitation for brands to engage with users who have ‘opted in’ to receiving correspondence.

Obviously, if brands attempt to sell when engaging their efforts will be in vein, but when conducted appropriately goodwill will follow.

You can find out more about Quora here.

Over to you!

What other challenges / opportunities have you identified?

Do you think brands will be quick to recognise this platform as an opportunity / threat?

Add your thoughts to the comments section below.

Adam

COMMScorner.com is the blog from Adam Vincenzini which focuses on social media and PR. Connect with Adam on Twitter or subscribe to his blog. If you’d like to view this blog on a mobile device, visit COMMScorner.mofuse.mobi.

6 Comments

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    sytaylor

    Will brands recognise the platform? No, and it’s going to be a tough sell.

    The easiest I can imagine is “It’s like wikipedia, you need to own the facts”, but that’s the threat angle. The opportunity is, free CRM, you have a community managing your product for you!

  • Reply December 30, 2010

    jeffespo

    Adam – I am still on the fence with Quora. I have checked it out a number of times and do see a value in it, but think the community is too tech-heavy to become a power player right away.

    For brands, it is going to be a tough sell at a number of levels. On one hand questions about a brand should be answered, but on the flipside there is a matter of scale. There are countless review, customer forum and advocacy sites out there along with Twitter, Facebook and blogs. At some point you have to determine when enough is enough.

    A way that I see Quora becoming a corporate player is to go the route of GetSatisfaction where companies can integrate the tool with their site or forum and make it an outlet for customer service and education.

    On a personal level its another avenue for pros to flex their muscles if you will, and offer insight into areas of expertise. Could see it as a medium for PR and clients to get seen as industry leaders.

  • Reply January 1, 2011

    Adam Vincenzini

    Good points pal. The ‘scale’ issue is something that we saw brands approach with different strategies re: Foursquare in 2010 which gives us some indication of what to expect.
    The thing I possibly see occurring (as time goes on) is that the decisions made by brands re: participation will make or break these platforms more and more.

  • Reply January 1, 2011

    TweetMyJOBS Europe

    Wishing you a Happy New Year, giving a heads up on the Brand đŸ™‚ Tweetmyjobs heading into Europe from 2011

  • Reply January 4, 2011

    sytaylor

    The brands follow their consumer. I do think it’s going to diversify somewhat.

    Quora’s ability to integrate with a brand’s existing site will make or break it, them selling that aspect of it to brands as a revenue tool would be smart… or they could look to integrate with the new breed of CRM tools like Salesforce, Yammer or 37 Signals.

    What I’ve found is that by answering a few topical questions in Quora, both your twitter and Quora followings shoot up. People really appreciate a direct answer and input. The ratings system means, even if you put up a stinker, that is only a problem for a question nobody cares about.

    Like Wikipedia in the early days, I’m sure you can find a topic to go and vandalise, but give it a couple of years. For me this is the Q+A vertical model. Whether its Quora or someone else in 5 years time will tell.

  • Reply January 4, 2011

    verygoodservice

    The difficulty for brands is to manage the vast number of emerging platforms. Rather than doing a bad job on all of them, isn’t it better to focus on a very limited number and provide a very good service on the chosen ones? Verdict: it will be tough

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