By Clare McDermott published March 29, 2011

Quora for Content Marketing: Is it Worth Your Time?

In the second issue of Chief Content Officer magazine, to be released next week, we share our befuddlement about Quora. The premise of the super-hot social site seems sound: posit a question and get crowd-sourced answers back, prioritized by their popularity. But actually navigating around and understanding the Quora rules is a bit like the awkward embarrassment you feel when show up at a Dresden Dolls concert in a pink polo shirt (I speak from experience).

A Quora user explained his confusion in the comments section of a New York Times blog post: Quora Raises Questions.

I have no idea what I’m following or why. I gave it 15 minutes after going through the whole sign-up process and might try to spend another 15 trying to delete my account, because I have literally no idea what any of it means. And I am a highly technical person and “normal” to boot. Leland Witter, Raleigh, NC

So we wanted to know, what do our readers think of Quora? Is the confusion common among savvy marketers, or are marketers totally inundated with new social platforms and don’t have time for yet another site?  Doug Kessler, a social media maven from Velocity Partners, sums up what many content marketers are thinking about Quora:

For me, Quora does a terrific job and it’s a great interface. My problem: social media fatigue and bandwidth. Can I make room in my life for another social media platform? They all feel like baby birds with constantly open beaks, squeaking for my attention (and… regurgitations).  I haven’t yet discovered what Quora is uniquely good at. But I’m still open to finding out.

Should I care about Quora?

Quora certainly isn’t the first Q&A platform for business professionals – LinkedIn AnswersFocus and Facebook Questions are also very popular. What makes Quora unique to many is its techie, Palo Alto vibe. It was founded by two former Facebookers, former engineer Charlie Cheever and chief technology officer Adam D’Angelo, and it still manages to pull in answers from Silicon Valley heavyweights such as Craig Newmark and Dustin Moskovitz.

So should you care? One of the best answers I have seen on why Quora matters so deeply to some comes from Robert Scoble, a social media demi-god and Quora evangelist/addict. Below is an excerpt from his full response to why Quroa trumps both LinkedIn Answers and Facebook Questions:

  1. My main base of operation is Twitter and I follow more than 30,000 early adopters, geeks, developers, CEOs, influencers, VIPs, etc. in the tech industry and a few outside of tech. I very rarely see any other QA site mentioned other than Quora. So, that tells me that MY PEOPLE are engaged on Quora more than other sites.
  2. I see more geeks I trust and like answering questions here than any other place COMBINED.
  3. My work here gets more comments from people I want to reach than any other work I do. Today Rypple’s co-CEO was here and said he loved my Quora answer on suicide, for instance. That gets me to invest more time here, because I know that the movers and shakers in the tech industry are reading here and not reading elsewhere as often.

How do I get started?

If you want to get your feet wet with Quora, start by setting up a good feed. Build your feed by searching for topics, people, and questions—and following them. Your feed will allow you to see content that interests you and answer questions about issues you care about or are particularly knowledgeable about. More about these starter-steps is available from Quora here.

 

So now what? Here are five ideas for getting started with Quora:

Follow your customers
Find out what interests them. Even better, answer their questions thoughtfully and intelligently.

Follow your competitors
Find out what they are asking about, who they are following and how they are answering questions.

Find blog fodder
David Reich of SixEstate Communications recently offered suggestions on how to make blog posts more reader-centric, and he suggested using Quora:

If you follow topics and questions that interest you, as well as thought leaders in your industry, you’ll come across a wealth of relevant topics to blog about. But participating on Quora can be productive too: A thoughtful answer you provide can usually be repurposed as a blog post quite naturally. Same goes for LinkedIn Answers and Formspring, which are a couple of other Q&A networks worth checking out.

TIP: Pay close attention to where you find topics to cover and give credit where credit is due. Linking to the original source of information is not just good etiquette, but it’s also an effective way to get the attention of the journalist, blogger or influencer who first reported it – which is subtle but very powerful marketing for your business.

Trendspotting
Follow social media and techie influencers. Listen in on their conversations. It’s a great way to stay on top of next-horizon trends. How to find the right influencers? Robert Scoble offers some great suggestions.

Build your influence in your expert area
Become known as the person who gives thoughtful, rich answers on a topic in your field. Keep in mind, journalists are heavy users of Quora. Do not, however, overtly market yourself as your answer will surely get voted down.

For even more information about how marketers use Quora, check out What do marketers need to know about Quora?

How have you used Quora for content marketing? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

Author: Clare McDermott

Clare McDermott is the editor of Chief Content Officer magazine and owner of SoloPortfolio, a Boston-based content marketing provider for professional service firms.You can follow her @soloportfolio.

Other posts by Clare McDermott

  • http://www.bernieborges.com BernieBorges

    I’m not convinced it’s worthwhile. I recently posted the same question on Quora and LinkedIn Answers. Within a few hours I got 5 responses on LinkedIn. I never received a single response on Quora. I also agree with the “social media fatigue” issue. It’s hard enough to stay active in other social media. A new one that doesn’t offer instant value gets abandoned after the initial trial. Thumbs down from me.

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieTilton Stephanie Tilton

    Clare – Thanks for the timely post and these insights! I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not Quora is worth my time.

    ~ Stephanie
    p.s. Couldn’t help but giggle as I pictured you at the Dresden Dolls’ concert in your pink polo ; )

  • http://twitter.com/soloportfolio Clare McDermott

    Bernie & Stephanie: Thanks for chiming in. Ditto on social media fatigue. The first time I visited Quora, I was so annoyed by the lack of tutorials on how to use the platform that I ignored it for a solid month. The next time I visited, in preparation for running a story in CCO, I spent a good 45 minutes roaming around and was actually pleasantly surprised. I think the biggest takeaway for me was the level of intellectual engagement on the site. Plus, if you are at all interested in social media and technology, it’s fun to listen in on really smart people conducting though experiments about one topic or another. My latest tactic has been to save time and piggy-back on smart Quora users (Robert Scoble is my favorite) and just see what they are talking about and who they are listening to.

    A fun way to be part of the in-crowd, even if I’m still a frumpy frump! :)

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post. Makes me want to give Quora a bit more of a chance.

  • Cirewebb

    I haven’t used Quara yet, but it’s really a bandwidth issue. Do we really need another Q&A site? And while I love Robert Scoble I don’t believe anyone can follow 30,000 people and feeds. I’m so done with the quantity of information that’s out there. 99% of it is junk and you still don’t know the quality of the audience, their level of expertise or anything else. For marketing questions that baffle me, I go to online sources and groups that I know have vetted their members such an MENGOnline – only Sr Marketers with a certain level of experience and salary level are allowed in.

    When I post a question there, I know the people answering are my peer group. I think for someone like Scoble and the other Silicon Valley Geeks looking for something new to build – Quara’s probably good for them. They are early adopters. Me, I’ll wait to see if it grows up.

  • http://www.theuniuni.com/ Payton_vege

    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!