Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond

Yesterday, on a client call, I was asked if Quora was going to be relevant, and what businesses should do about it.  I’m sure I’m going to get asked this more often, so I’ll put my answers down for all to see.  If you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s a Q&A website where people can ask questions and others can answer and respond.  If you’ve seen LinkedIn or Yahoo Answers or similar features from Community Platforms, and even Get Satisfaction to an extend, you’ll find a theme.  Quora officially launched 6 months ago in a limited beta, and is founded by Facebook’s former CTO with backing by Benchmark capital, all positive signs for company vitality.

What makes Quora Notable:

  1. A Social Network for Questions and Responses. Like a social network, individual are often putting their real identities and offer extensive features for surfacing the ideal responses up, these features are more advanced that the typical ‘vote up or down’ responses.  The service is interesting, as it seeks to surface the most valuable and relevant answers, but I found that many of my questions didn’t get enough responses to warrant usefulness over every interaction.  There’s a unique blend of checks and balances that allow for the question, summaries, and votes for answers to be surfaced, much like a wiki for Q&A.
  2. An Advanced Set of Features That May Confuse New Users. The user interface offers as lot of features, but some which are complicated.  As I started to probe around and ask questions, it wasn’t clear how to create a question (you actually have to put it in the ‘search field’, an action not native to most users).  Secondly it wasn’t clear what the difference was between a question and a post (which is like a blog post).  A few times, I found the service slow to load pages, likely due to the next point.
  3. Technology Influencers are Currently Present, Spurring Growth. A certain type of technology and web influencer is present (see this frequently updated list), giving fuel to their early but rapid growth.   I’ve seen this before.  First with Twitter, Friendfeed and now Quora.  While this group may not be an influencer group of CPG, Retail, and other industries, they are an early indicator of technology adoption.   For example, in his natural penchant to find and evangelize new services, Robert Scoble, has become a poster boy for this product, much how he did for Friendfeed, further bolstering the growth.   To really see if this is the service that will explode, we’ll need to watch how it shapes the SXSW experience, a conference I use as a bell weather for next-generation technologies
  4. Like All Social Sites, It’s at Risk to be Gamed. Quality responses are likely to surface the highest, yet like all voting websites, search engines, and social networks that allow for followers and friends, those with more connections to the network will be able to assert more influence over content, visibility, and ability to ultimately sway others.  The Quora service seeks to balance this out by trying to surface the most relevant content at the top.  Yet, I assert that those with more popularity will always be able to influence their responses to the top, as you can read in this discussion herehere, and of course on Quora itself.  (Update: Later, Robert proved my point as he was lashed out for gaming Quora)

How Businesses Should Respond to Quora:

  • Businesses Accounts Not Allowed…Yet. Now, If you’re involved in supporting your customers in the social web, either you’re a brand manager, or a community manager, your job is to go where customers are online and respond to them.  While Quora doesn’t currently allow business profiles on the site (see how the Mashable account has been suspended) you should expect in the future that this would be a potential revenue stream for Quora to offer ‘buy outs’ for Q&A just as LinkedIn has done in the past.
  • At A Minimum, Monitor The Discussions. While corporate accounts are not currently allowed, personal accounts are, and most people who are in Quora work at a company and you see them answering questions about their company.  Send your Community Managers (you have them, right?) into this emerging Q&A sites as they would other sites, to monitor and respond if questions go awry.  Glean intelligence by creating an excel sheet and creating a list of the top asked questions related to your brand and use to fuel internal discussions around why these questions are asked, and cascade to the appropriate product and service teams to fix. Likely if one customer is asking questions in Quora, it’s an indicator others are too.  The savvy will use this information to identify leads, such as those following the keywords related to your brand.
  • Advanced? Engage by Providing Helpful Responses. The advanced community managers should be responding to questions related to the lifestyle or workstyle of their brand to demonstrate thought leadership and ability to engage in discussions, adding value to the community.  If questions about your product are answered on other websites, leave a summary respond and point to the original repository of correct information.  Tip: I provided just a link to one of my blog posts where the answer was, and some users asked me instead answer in text, then link.  As always,  be sure to indicate where you work and that you are an employee of the company, as transparency gleans trust.  The goal?  To give the most helpful answers so they rise to the top of the question thread.

You can find my Quora account here, where I will ask and answer questions that I’m passionate or need help with.

Update Jan 22: I met the Quora founders last night at the Techcrunch’s award show, Crunchies and asked him point blank “When will there be services for companies” and he told me that isn’t a direct focus right now (as they’ve indicated).  Although he didn’t say it directly, we should assume ‘Corporate’ accounts won’t be available sometime until they have massive consumer adoption, and also because they have considerable funding to tie them over to build a great service.  This further reinforces my recommendations to you above to monitor and respond now.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: Social Media Marketing HQ | Learn Social Media From the Industry's Brightest Minds » Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond

  • http://www.abnormalmarketing.com/ fionabosticky

    I like Quora, and I’ve not long had an account on there. It really has huge potential to be a great, higher level, Q&A site. The tips you’ve given here are excellent Jeremiah, and they explain how to use Quora very well.

    I was pleased to see that Business cannot have a “Personal Profile”. I don’t like it when businesses also set themselves up as a person on Facebook, or LinkedIn. It defeats the purpose, and takes away the value of social networking.

    But here’s an excellent alternative/ suggestion for business owners – set yourself up on Quora as a “Topic”. You still get the SEO benefit, you can add a company image, and bio, and even a FAQ page. It’s awesome!

  • http://www.abnormalmarketing.com/ fionabosticky

    I like Quora, and I’ve not long had an account on there. It really has huge potential to be a great, higher level, Q&A site. The tips you’ve given here are excellent Jeremiah, and they explain how to use Quora very well.

    I was pleased to see that Business cannot have a “Personal Profile”. I don’t like it when businesses also set themselves up as a person on Facebook, or LinkedIn. It defeats the purpose, and takes away the value of social networking.

    But here’s an excellent alternative/ suggestion for business owners – set yourself up on Quora as a “Topic”. You still get the SEO benefit, you can add a company image, and bio, and even a FAQ page. It’s awesome!

  • http://twitter.com/FrozenFabulist John Morrow

    I like Quora, but in what possible sense does it have an “advanced set of features”? If anything, it’s too plain and not nearly use friendly enough. It has the basic functionality of any discussion forum – search, reply, comment.

    I must be missing the advanced stuff.

  • Pingback: SearchCap: The Day In Search, January 21, 2011

  • Pingback: Quora for Business? (And Other Social Media Blog Jots) « Media Bullseye – A New Media and Communications Magazine

  • http://keithprivette.com @keithprivette

    One thing businesses and community managers should be careful of doing is editing someones tags or spelling. I had a question with a tag of a Brand because it was relevant to the question and the a community manager from the brand deleted the tag from the question.

    I had to sit back and evaluate that move. One hand I understand the brand may not want to be attached to the question, but on the other hand this was my perspective and a customer or potential customer of your brand and left a bad taste in my mouth. Still struggling with business feeling vs personal feeling on this.

    So I would like you said monitor and provide answers and thought leadership to your customers, but be careful about being to controlling and uppity. Your customers are watching.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    There’s more tools to edit content (tags, questions, summaries) and more features to find content (such as the dynamic search bar and recommended questions) that are seen on the usual simple Q&A feature. Let’s be clear, this isn’t the most advanced website in the world, but certainly has more features than most Q&A sites.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    There’s more tools to edit content (tags, questions, summaries) and more features to find content (such as the dynamic search bar and recommended questions) that are seen on the usual simple Q&A feature. Let’s be clear, this isn’t the most advanced website in the world, but certainly has more features than most Q&A sites.

  • http://twitter.com/mikemost mike mostransky

    monitoring is once again the key {LISTEN} AKA, fish where the fish are. If people are asking questions about your company, product or brand… for example, if only someone from @Netflix support hopped on there to perhaps enlighten some of us on a few things we could all benefit from it. Thanks for sharing your insight Jeremiah!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Great tips. Interesting how the SEO is going to be a big part of Quora’s secondary impact.

  • http://twitter.com/supperman vuk cosic

    I had a longish talk about Quora for my client (large oil industry in a small country) and discussed the avenue for them. Like with all things social it seams clever to totally avoid direct public push of brand or company name. Instead it’s the next level of abstraction that we are going to go after – what’s with oil peak and such topics – thus contributing to general awareness/knowledge as well as positioning my client as competent.
    Eventually Quora will be gameable, as well as enlarged with pro features, but by that time it will be late to catch up. So this is the course of action NOW.

  • Anonymous

    Jeremiah – would you agree that Quora is a bigger threat to LinkedIn than it is to Twitter, Facebook, etc?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Fiona – I did notice that Quora was #3 on Google for my name, that is no easy feat. I am very impressed. I also did configure a topic for my business last week, added the photo and the basics. I need to play with that a bit. It has not yet displayed on Google (thankfully my company is #1 but I’d love to add another top 10 placement!). Excellent tip.

  • http://www.djvassallo.com/ Delfin Vassallo

    Jeremiah: Have you noticed that while brands are not allowed to have ‘official’ corporate accounts on Quora, they certainly can be present as a ‘Topic to follow’?

    Under this brand customers and employees are interacting, incredible opportunity for customer care activity! On a fast search I found out that Nokia and Honda are already on this track.

    Also noticed that Quora creates a Twitter account to automatically re-publish questions about these ‘Topics’ see @q_nokia or @q_honda, for those ones seeing Quora as a Twitter competitor I may say it’s totally the opposite, they’re complementing each other quite well.

  • http://twitter.com/jonburg Jon Burg

    We’re seeing the same challenge on LinkedIn company pages. The only people who can reply to negative “recommendations” are page managers, but from their personal accounts. Increasingly, it seems like social players are going an alternative route to Facebook, demanding radical transparency in participation at the individual reputation level, rather than as the voice of the brand.

  • Pingback: The Collapsing Debate on Quora | Bytes of Rice

  • Pingback: Quora Underscores Need For Corporate Ambassadors | Free Layouts For Facebook Fan Pages

  • http://www.aureliustjin.com Aurelius Tjin

    Nice post, this is a good information

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Here’s a topic on “Intel” that I can now follow, which makes it easy for community managers and brand managers to carefully watch.

    http://www.quora.com/Intel?q=intel

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    I’m awaiting to get a response from LinkedIn. Yes, this appears to be a competitor.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing -- Topsy.com

  • Anonymous

    Let me know when/if you hear back. I’ve thought of a couple other firms that are probably either very excited about or nervous about Quora. Going to reach out to the ones I have contacts at and probably do a follow up post. Would be happy to share what LinkedIn has to say. Did you ask on Quora? ;)

  • Anonymous

    Let me know when/if you hear back. I’ve thought of a couple other firms that are probably either very excited about or nervous about Quora. Going to reach out to the ones I have contacts at and probably do a follow up post. Would be happy to share what LinkedIn has to say. Did you ask on Quora? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/marisacp51 Marisa Peacock

    I think Quora will be valuable to those of us who can position ourselves on an authority on a particular topic. As a marketing consultant for small businesses, I know I will be recommending that my clients engage to learn more about how others regard issues related to their business. I think unlike Facebook or Twitter, Quora provides an outlet where we can monitor conversations about real topics, rather than just brands.

  • http://twitter.com/marisacp51 Marisa Peacock

    I think Quora will be valuable to those of us who can position ourselves on an authority on a particular topic. As a marketing consultant for small businesses, I know I will be recommending that my clients engage to learn more about how others regard issues related to their business. I think unlike Facebook or Twitter, Quora provides an outlet where we can monitor conversations about real topics, rather than just brands.

  • Pingback: Picture This: When Consumers Have Questions, Do Brands Have Answers? « Brian Solis Brian Solis

  • Pingback: renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll - Links of the day | 在网上找到

  • Pingback: Quora’s challenges « The Equity Kicker

  • Pingback: Logic+Emotion: Quora Underscores Need For Corporate Ambassadors « Bytes Hotdish

  • http://twitter.com/peter_chang Peter Chang

    I feel that Quora brings both an awesome opportunity for businesses to promote themselves as well as challenges for businesses to compete in such a fast-paced social media world. Quora offers a golden opportunity for newcomers to establish themselves as subject area experts because like blogging or article submission, the platform brings many eyeballs to your content, but it’s even better because it brings targeted eyeballs directly to your answers in real-time, like instant SEO if you provide relevant answers. However, with these benefits comes many challenges. Monitoring becomes even more critical and things are moving at an even faster rate. Besides competing with celebrities who get voted up in a flash, even niche topics are answered in real-time and you have to be on your toes all the time or the opportunity can rapidly be lost. It’s like producing blog-quality content in Twitter-time! It’s challenging but addictive and really engaging, and I think really tests your ability to stay on top of your area of expertise.

  • Pingback: Ask Yourself This Question… | Voce Communications

  • http://www.simplyzesty.com Niall

    It’s very very early days for Quora and the big challenge for them is how they are going to integrate the business community and take care of spammers/ people trying to SEO their own site. Those are the biggest challenges before you even look at monetization.

    I think businesses should be allowed to get involved in the conversation and the voting element will keep them honest but how do you integrate businesses in to something this personal and community based? They’ll do it but it will be tricky!

  • http://icopartners.com Martin Rabl

    Your points pretty much are in line with my current thoughts about Quora and its influence on Community Management. In our company we are focusing on the online video games market and I don’t see a huge number of questions on Quora directly related to specific games or companies – yet. At least not on a B2C level. Questions seem to be more high level and about the industry (changes) in general.

    However as with Facebook and Twitter before, companies and Community Managers should already keep an eye on it and also see it as an opportunity to establish themselves as industry experts. Don’t let the current support on other platforms suffer but if anything pops up and can best be answered by a company representative, it’s worth a thought.

    As a minimum, monitor the discussion around your game/company/brand already.

  • http://icopartners.com Martin Rabl

    Your points pretty much are in line with my current thoughts about Quora and its influence on Community Management. In our company we are focusing on the online video games market and I don’t see a huge number of questions on Quora directly related to specific games or companies – yet. At least not on a B2C level. Questions seem to be more high level and about the industry (changes) in general.

    However as with Facebook and Twitter before, companies and Community Managers should already keep an eye on it and also see it as an opportunity to establish themselves as industry experts. Don’t let the current support on other platforms suffer but if anything pops up and can best be answered by a company representative, it’s worth a thought.

    As a minimum, monitor the discussion around your game/company/brand already.

  • http://phd-thesis.com/ Phd-thesis Com

    Well, I don’t think so. Think it will appears not so fast

  • Pingback: How Can Quora Fit Into Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox? | Weber Media Partners | Impressions Through Media

  • Pingback: Now that the dust has settled down – thoughts about Quora and Q&A platforms

  • http://www.bengelmedia.nl/ marketingconcept

    We all know that running a business is quite difficult. Some
    are following business strategies on it. It is their secrets for managing their
    firms successfully.

  • http://www.bengelmedia.nl/ marketingconcept

    We all know that running a business is quite difficult. Some
    are following business strategies on it. It is their secrets for managing their
    firms successfully.

  • company naming

    Scoble later criticized Quora, however, saying that it was a “horrid service for blogging,” and while it was a decent question and answer website, it was not substantially better than competing sites. The Daily Telegraph of the United Kingdom has predicted that Quora will go on to become larger than Twitter in the future.

  • Pingback: diary of a normal guy

  • http://sacredjourneyhospice.com/ Fayette County Hospice

    Love the focus on service! I think people tend to gravitate towards companies who show they care by having good customer service. This is a major key for all business owners!

  • Bvmnvm_hhvc

    nu stiu ce sa zic

  • Pingback: thoughts about Quora and Q&A platforms | Hypertext

  • Pingback: Tips Tuesday Feb 22

  • http://cfd-signals.co.uk/ CFD Signals

    Without appropriate forex trading risk management techniques i can
    assure you, this will be short lived career. That’s why, by employing
    proven and effective methods of risk control, you can reduce the potential
    damage forex trading can throw your way, and help your method move forward to
    success. 

  • http://twitter.com/cwebdesign cweb

    keep dreaming.. it didn’t.

  • Lauren Redgrave

    Quora is still an amazing source of knowledge. What I like the most about Quora it’s that people share therea real experience, not only how-to’s and general tips but the real experience. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. For me, as for a person who runs own business it’s priceless. But I tended to miss a lot on Quora so I’ve found a really nice tool called Colibri (https://colibri.io) which selects the best questions from Quora on given phrases. Now I don’t miss anything and love Quora even more!