Quora: Valuable help, overblown hype or new CRM hope?
Quora launched in private beta in June 2009, opening its doors in July 2010. It saw a sudden massive rise in interest at the beginning of 2011 (traffic tripled in January 2011), as it came to the attention of tech bloggers and the mass Twitterati.
It’s essentially a Q&A site: members can ask or answer questions of Quora members, and vote the best answers up or down, which gives a consensus (or quorum) or opinion on any given subject. The idea behind the voting system is that the most useful answers get voted up, and so are more reliable and better informed than, say, LinkedIn Answers.
For those unfamiliar with the site, there’s a good post by Drew Benvie with practical tips for using Quora, such as how providing useful (not 'braggy') answers to questions will increase your 'usefulness' on the site; how to set privacy controls; and how to link to topics and people.
Quora has polarised opinion. Fans think it’s smarter than Twitter (it won ‘best new start-up of 2010 in the Crunchies awards). Detractors view it as self-indulgent navel-gazing by social media types. Its investors reportedly value the company at a whopping $300 million; some observers think it’s interesting, but not worth its valuation. Its founders may have something to do with the level of investment (and media attention) it has attracted: among them are former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever.
- Your brand is being discussed on Quora. Quora is not search-based. You can't just wait for updates to hit you or easily search them out. You need to spend time on Quora to see the discussions.
- Your network is moving to Quora. You may well by now have a strong social network on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and forums. They are beginning to replace some of their old social media usage with the threaded, themed discussions that take place on Quora.
- New experts emerge as new discussions appear over on Quora. Search out questions about your brand or client and see who the most knowledgeable contributors are. They will most likely link to their Twitter accounts and other online profiles and you can begin to understand the new social media influencers in your space.