Since the start of 2011, Quora has seemingly inexplicably exploded onto the online PR scene. What is this social network, how can it be used for online public relations, and is it worth investing time in?
What is Quora?
For those who missed the memo, Quora is a question-and-answer network initially popular with social media junkies and tech people. Founded by two former Facebook employees, its concept is simple: a forum in which users post, answer, and comment on questions. Quora users are able to vote answers “up” or “down” based on their relevancy, ensuring better answers appear first. The website’s appeal lies in reading answers to others’ questions – answers that, unlike other predecessors, often come from a source of authority. Also unlike other Q&A sites, you can reply to comments without answering a question.
Each Quora user has a home page news feed. Activity of users you follow (whether they asked a question, answered one, or voted an answer up or down) will show up in your home page, as well as recently asked questions within topics you follow.
Three Reasons to Have Quora in the PR Strategy?
Quora is useful to have on your PR radar for three main reasons:
1. reputation management,
2. market research and
3. journalist outreach.
Business pages are not currently allowed on Quora. However, personal accounts are, and this enables any brand ambassador to monitor what is being said about his/her company or industry by following the company, topics of interest or even the competition. Listening is only the beginning: this is a powerful opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership or at the very least, transparency to a targeted audience through answering questions. Don’t hesitate to quell concerns; if it’s being asked on Quora, chances are good it’s being asked elsewhere.
Next, another defining characteristic of Quora is the quality of its content. This makes it a valuable market research tool – by following relevant topics or users, you’ll have a competitive edge on industry trends. By following your competition (or by following the same people your competition is following), you’ll be in tune with their point of view. This info can be transformed into blog posts, solidifying your company’s position as industry expert.
Finally, Quora has both Google’s and journalists’ stamp of approval. Quora results are showing up in Google searches, meaning both positive and negative posts about your company appear in search results. And as for journalists, reporters from The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Bloomberg, Mashable, Businessweek and Forbes are on Quora.
Is it worth it?
The obvious argument is, is it a good use of time to monitor another social medium, especially one that is widely unknown? While Quora is still in its early stages, its intimate user base makes it worth observation. At the very least, brands should be aware of what is being said about them, calling to mind social media’s Golden Rule: You’re being talked about, whether you’re part of the conversation or not.