9 ways to get more out of Quora

Follow these approaches to tap experts’ knowledge, monitor your market or make beneficial connections.

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Quora—the community-driven Q&A repository—is certainly getting a lot of buzz right now. Even though it’s known as a “social network for knowledge,” Quora isn’t just for the tech elite. Outside of the tech-centric or offbeat topics, there is an abundance of resources that appeal to a range of tastes.

Businesses and nonprofits can glean a wealth of information from Quora. Here are a few ways organizations large and small can tap into this active community.

1. Strengthen customer experiences

Monitor mentions of your company on Quora. Start by searching for your company’s name. If it’s already a Quora topic, follow that topic to receive alerts as new questions are posed. If you answer a question about your company and its services or products, disclose your company affiliation and answer with facts.

Companies can deliver customer service via Quora by responding to complaints and criticisms. Additionally, company representatives can serve as resources, as illustrated by Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, who has answered questions about the app’s origins, name and URL.

2. Research the competition

A quick search on Quora can help you keep tabs on the competition: what they’re up to and what others are saying about them. Just ask Bulx.com’s Matt Russo, who explained: “I used Quora to find information on a competitor’s Web-based company. The answer was provided by someone who had obviously worked with the company in the past, as illustrated by the in-depth information he shared.” The Quora community is even sharing valuable insights about specific companies’ business models.

3. Connect with journalists

Want Mashable or other news and information sites to cover your company? Quora can help. A number of tech reporters and editors—including Mashable’s Ben Parr and Christina Warren—are offering advice to those seeking media coverage. Before pitching a media outlet, see what intelligence can be gleaned from Quora responses.

Andy Carvin, senior strategist at NPR, says it won’t be long until non-tech journalists leverage Quora as a reporting tool: “It can be used for research purposes by reporters, following threads on different subjects to get story ideas and the like. And it’s probably just a matter of time before reporters start using it more directly as a sourcing tool, posing questions related to whatever topic they’re reporting on.”

4. Embrace long-form dialogue

Networks like Twitter and Facebook have conditioned us to communicate in short bursts of information. Quora embraces long-form communication. The site’s value is in the depth and breadth of knowledge, so think outside the 140-character box when answering questions. Just don’t ramble.

5. Expand your network

If you want to connect with new people who share similar interests, follow topics that reflect your own personal interests. Whether you like discussing baseball, technology, politics or gardening, there are like-minded people on Quora for you to “meet.” Just click on the green “Follow Topic” button located at the top of the sidebar on the right.

6. Establish expertise

Writing intelligent, relevant answers to key topics on Quora can strengthen how others perceive your expertise. Strengthen your credentials by developing a reputation as a subject-matter expert. You may notice that people will begin to request your input on related topics.

7. Shorten the learning curve

If you want to research venture-funding opportunities or learn how to grow your users from one to 1 million, whom better to ask than people with firsthand experience? Multiple conversations on Quora focus on growth strategies and funding (venture capital and angel investing).

Ev Williams, Twitter’s co-founder, offered advice to a Quora questioner looking for information about maximizing South by Southwest opportunities—extremely valuable intelligence for startups.

But it’s not all tech, all the time. The Quora community can also help you learn how to tie a tie, roast coffee beans or travel with kids.

8. Cultivate existing relationships

Sending e-mails with links to articles or blog posts can be an effective way to cultivate relationships. Quora adds a new dimension to this relationship-building tactic. See an open question that fits the expertise of a prospect? Send them a link to the question along with a brief “touching base” e-mail. Stay top of mind without seeming like a pushy salesperson.

9. Mine for hot topics

Look for themes behind the questions being answered or followed by your Quora network. Identify popular questions relevant to your industry/experience that generate a lot of interest, and use those ideas as inspiration for blog posts, e-newsletters and other communication tools.

How else do you see people using Quora?

Heather Whaling is the founder of Geben Communication and blogs at prTini.


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