Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quora for PR and Marketing Pros

Quora is a screaming new service that has exploded with the social media insiders, reporters and tech crowd. The site About describes itself as a "continually improving collection of questions and answers" created by everyone. The site has set itself apart in three ways, first written about by Louis Gray, in its community, interface (technology), and relevancy. This killer combination has top-tech journalists, bloggers and insiders spending hours posing and answering meaningful questions. For PR and marketing people, this new site is an important emerging place to monitor conversations about your company and brand.

Community

For example, Steve Case, former AOL CEO and chairman, answers business questions on the site such as "How much did it cost AOL to distribute all those CDs back in the 1990's?" That response kicked off news stories from TechCrunch, Business Insider and San Francisco Chronicle as reported by Poynter. You might be saying, "AOL is so 1997!" - Yes, but it is a fact that business leaders, CEOs and seasoned chair people are engaging on the site.

In addition to finding sources, journalists are also spending a lot of time posing and answering questions. Ben Parr from Mashable and Robert Scoble make regular comments. There is even a question on Quora about journalists that are using the service. Reporters from Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Economist, Bloomberg and Forbes top the list. It seems that there is a growing list of journalists from outside the U.S. so it is clear the community is growing beyond the Silicon Valley echo chamber.

Along with reporters, Quora has attracted the A-List of tech bloggers, Tweeps, conversationalists and creators who have the potential to influence the conversation.

Relevancy

The big buzz word in social media is relevancy and Quora seems to have more than its quota. Relevancy is auto-magically presenting what you want to see when you want to see it. Or, even better, the finding it for me before I know I want it. Quora seems to deliver something new and interesting to me each time I visit. As with any new database of information, critical mass is well, critical. I'm throwing questions at it about PR, social media and Silicon Valley and it does pretty well. It will need to continue to expand its reach to appeal to those who are outside that small world. One more word about relevancy, I'm seeing Quora results showing up in Google searches. If Google is pouring some of its juice on Quora, that means that posts about your company (positive and negative) will appear prominently in search results.

Interface

Like any good next generation idea, Quora has mastered several of the factors that make it easy to use, follow and contribute. With your permission, Quora automatically follows all of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. This feature probably helped it to rapidly grow with minimal user input.

The social media world sometimes seems like a rapidly expanding foam filling every crack and crevice of our lives. I'm sure much of it is as empty as foam, but Quora has something a bit different. As a PR professional, I'd check it out and include it in your monitoring. They have got a lot of stuff right and a lot of the right people are at Quora right now.

Because of the explosion of interest in Quora, there are several blog posts that I'd recommend from PR people who are approaching the service from the same angle:
My own Quora profile can be found here. If you have other posts on this topic, please add them to the comments.

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