Creating “Virtual” Thought Leaders: How to Use Quora for Business

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Creating “Virtual” Thought Leaders

We’ve been hearing so much about Quora lately that we wanted to learn more about it. So we did the research on this cool platform so you don’t have to. Here’s what you need to know, and here’s how it can help you position yourself as a thought leader.

Q: What, exactly, is Quora?

A: Here’s how we describe it: It’s one big giant Q&A party. Post a question. Get answers, quoraoften thoughtful and in depth ones, from people who (usually) have relevant expertise. Quora is a great place to receive information and to give information. And, yes, it’s free. That’s our take. Quora’s official description on its About page goes like this: “Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge.”

Q: How’s the learning curve?

A: If you’re familiar with other social media platforms and how they work (specifically Facebook, Twitter, and Google+), the learning curve isn’t that bad. Here are the basics:

  • You have a profile. You can add a short bio, and there are several sections you can fill out, including location, education, and experience.
  • The experience section is key because when you fill it out, you’re essentially telling Quora that these are topics you’re interested in. It’s this section that ends up populating your Quora “stream,” which is similar to the Facebook newsfeed or Twitter stream, although on Quora, it can get pretty “noisy” fast, depending on how many topics, questions, and people you follow.
  • But don’t worry about missing something important: Quora has a wide range of email settings that allow you to dictate when you get an email alert related to questions, topics, answers, and blogs that you’re following.
  • You don’t just follow topics from your “experience” section – you can search on topics, such as “small businesses,” and follow that topic. As of the drafting of this blog post, Quora has over 250,000 topics you can follow. (Think of topics like people you follow on Twitter – same concept: you can follow topics.)
  • Like Twitter, you’ll see trending questions as well, and you can always search on a topic or question if you’re looking for a specific answer.
  • You can also follow individuals. So if you really like the way a person answers questions or you’re interested in a person’s particular expertise, you can follow him or her, and, as a result, you’ll be following the topics/questions he or she answers.
  • You can follow specific questions.
  • You can post questions.
  • You can answer questions.
  • You can simply lurk and find answers to questions you have.
  • You can share a question (and, as a result, all the answers) to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • You can promote a question (you need credits to do this).
  • Earlier this year, Quora began offering a free blogging platform to users as well.

Q: OK, so how would Quora benefit me and my business?

A: There are a few ways. First, it’s an excellent resource. Let’s say you’re looking for some tips on Facebook marketing. Do a search on that topic, and you’ll see a list of questions, the date the questions were added, and the number of answers (among some other things). Suddenly, you have a lot of quality information in one location. Don’t see your specific question? Post one and get answers in real-time from real people.

Second, you can use Quora for market research. Want to see what real people are saying in real time about topics that matter to your business or industry? Yeah, we thought so!

Third, you can use Quora to share your own expertise. Answer questions. The better your answers, the better chance people will “up vote” your answer (which can earn you “credits,” which you can use to promote questions, answers, and posts). Also, people can click on your name and learn more about you (in other words, it provides you with exposure and helps position you as an expert in your field). Make sure the content you offer is valuable. Only answer questions that you feel confident you can answer (as we mentioned above, there are over 250,000 topics, so you’re bound to be an expert in at least one of those topics). Don’t use the answer boxes as a forum for self-promotion. That’s not what Quora is about, and you WILL be called out on it by the community. Rest assured that if you provide regular, quality, helpful answers, people will click on your profile to learn more about you. From there, the sky’s the limit: they might check out your website, or follow you on another platform, or even reach out to you for business. Be patient. Give generously. And like any other social medium, only participate if you enjoy it. (You never know when you might capture the attention of one of the many journalists who use Quora.)

Q: How much time should I be spending on it?

A: Like any other social media platform, Quora can be a time sink. You need to manage your time and not spend your day answering dozens of questions, thinking that you can call it “work.” While regular participation in the community – the generous give/take of posting questions and providing quality answers – is important to your success on Quora, it shouldn’t replace your day-to-day work tasks.

Q: The thought of building another social media presence sounds daunting. Is it really that worthwhile?

A: Here’s the big benefit that Quora offers: you don’t need to be someone that others have “heard of” or who has a ton of followers in order to get noticed. Write quality answers, and people can up-vote them (which, in essence, means more people will see the answer). Quality answers have also been known to go viral. The same is looking true for Quora’s new blog platform. What’s the biggest gripe small bloggers often have? Finding an audience and getting people to comment, share, engage. But Quora already has a built-in audience, and these folks feed on great content. So the blogging platform could be another great way to reach people.

All that said, it’s not worth investing time if you hate it. But, before you make that determination, check Quora out, poke around, and see what you think. You might not only like Quora, but also experience a boost to your business.

What say you, readers: are you on Quora? What’s your experience been like? Share in the comments.

Further reading:
How do I get started using Quora? (An official Quora guideline)
A Guide to Quora Blogs
10 Tips on Using Quora for Business
What Makes Someone a Good Quoran?
How to Maximize Social Media ROI on Quora

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