Quora has been around since 2010, the brainchild of two former Facebook employees – Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever – and its innovative ratings-based question and answer system has attracted a swathe of journalists, writers and high level citizens of Silicon Valley. However, what you might not realise about Quora is that you can use it to grow both your business and/or personal brand. Here are some top tips to help you use it properly:
Learn the basic functions and how to use them effectively
Quora works a little like Twitter except that you can follow both people and topics. It's best practice to immediately start following the areas of interest that are most relevant to your business or to the kind of industry most relevant to your professional interests. But it's good to be creative and think around your topic a little If you're a fashion blogger for instance, you'll probably want to keep up with what's being talked about in art, architecture, design and print magazines – keep your interests broad at first, then you can zero in on people whose answers interest you.
Start off in listening and evaluative mode
Before you plunge straight into Quora, it's best to read around and get a feel for what questions are being asked so that you don't end up repeating common queries. You'll also get a feel for what makes a good answer. It's important to contribute to the community too by 'voting up' good answers.
Voting good answers will also alert the author to your presence, which is a good way to begin connecting with interesting people who could become potential collaborators or clients.
Answering a question
Once you feel you know how Quora works, you should have a go at answering a question. If you're working with an eye to promoting your business, it's important that you start off in the relevant subject area, but, and this is crucial, to only talk about your product or service if it is absolutely relevant to the question being asked. The key is adding value to the community, not self-promotion. If you become a regular user, people will start to browse your profile, which is why you should make sure that your profile is fully tricked out with all the links and information about you and what you're offering. This is true for any social media – keep it consistent but also keep it human. No-one wants to interact with a SEO robot.
As for answering technique – make sure you provide honest, well-researched and detailed response. If you're talking about your personal experience, make sure you say so – Quora is a gold mine of anecdotal evidence and folk wisdom and sometimes that's exactly what people are looking for. If you're a writer then this is an ideal opportunity to show the world how you ply your trade. Be personal, hilarious, true whilst acknowledging that this is not an academic community: anything on here is likely to be as subjective as the day is long.
Asking a good question is an art. The best possible practice is to actually ask a question that you want to know the answer to! This might seem like the most banal advice possible but it's so easy to overthink and second-guess yourself when it comes to engagement. A good way to use Quora is as market research. Ask people how they use products and services that are similar to yours. If you're having a coding problem, ask advice. If you're using Quora in a personal capacity, don't be afraid to get philosophical and personal. There are some fascinating question threads, including “What does it feel like to go to jail?” which provide a window into the human condition that seems oddly inaccessible elsewhere. It's certainly an invaluable tool for anyone researching a novel!
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