The Web as a Magic 8 Ball: Quora, LinkedIn Answers and Q&A Site Best Practices
With billions of users and trillions of documents, it's always seemed like we should be able to lob any question into the internet and get an answer back, as if it were the world’s greatest Magic 8 Ball. Remember when Ask.com was Ask Jeeves and its claim to fame was that you could enter a search query as a natural language question? Or when “search directories” like Yahoo and LookSmart, curated by a community of experts, were viewed as viable competitors to purely algorithmic search engines like Google?
Today, the Q&A dream has found its footing in social media. Quora has rapidly become the next “it” web property; LinkedIn Answers has turned into a vibrant network of professionals; and chances are your Facebook feed has been full of its Questions app. Even Google and Bing have hitched themselves to the train by incorporating social recommendations into their core search results.
Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora, you no longer have to lob your questions blindly into the world wide web; you can pitch them right to your friends or professional network. Conversely, if you happen to have answers to questions and are willing to take the time to become an active participant on Quora or LinkedIn Answers, you have a powerful marketing and lead-generation tool at your disposal.
Q&A sites are communities, so even if your primary goal is to build your reputation and secure leads, don’t barge in and act like a know-it-all used car salesman. Here are some more considerations to keep in mind:
1. Aim for quality over quantity. On LinkedIn Answers, good answers will get you promoted to "Expert" status. Similarly, Quora allows users to vote questions up or down. That means increased visibility and greater respect from other users.