Quora : A Socially-Driven Information Resource

Year 2010 saw several new social media start-ups and one of them is Quora, co-founded by Adam D'Angelo (Facebook's former CTO) and Charlie Cheever. It's a socially-driven collection of questions and answers with emphasis on maximum user-participation featuring tight integration of social features. In recent months, it has acquired impressive user base and is growing strongly. I recently signed up for Quora and found it very interesting and useful resource. Let's see how can you make most out of this promising social media service.

Quora logo collage

Quora is all about user-generated content that's improved and refined over time. It's the users who ask questions, which in-turn triggers answers from other users. You can follow topics, questions and of course users of your choice. There's a voting system that ensures best answers are elevated to the top to keep the quality high. It has a followers & following system similar to a micro-blogging platform. Tagging similar to facebook ensures you can quote/refer/credit the desired source.

Questions are the building blocks

Yes, that's the backbone of quora. You create, answer, comment, vote, edit, aggregate, segregate and share questions with the Quora community and beyond (twitter and facebook). If used properly, Quora can build your brand and authority as you are surrounded by tons of questions that falls in your niche. You can provide your expert views and can update them as many times as you want. Since some of the answers may create a controversy or the user may not want to reveal his identity, Quora provides a facility to comment anonymously.
Quora question
After sign-up, you may struggle to submit your very first question if it doesn't pass Quora guidelines. Thankfully, there are countless administrators, moderators and volunteers that are ready to help you post your first question smoothly. The most important thing is not to address an individual/person while asking a question. Keep it generic and free of grammatical mistakes. You can also attach a brief description with your primary question to make it more understandable for the community. The amount of flexibility Quora provides while posting a question is amazing. You can make it anonymous, redirect it to a related question, forward it to selective users, add topics to it and of course can stop monitoring it. You can also mark a question as a best source. This indicates the question has been favored as the most credible and complete information about the topic. You can also prevent users from adding more categories to the questions to avoid appearing them in irrelevant streams.

I've found the 'Monitor Question' option extremely useful, especially when lots of constructive discussion is going on by industry experts. Don't confuse it with 'Follow Question' option. The difference between both is quite simple. 'Monitor Question' sends instant email notifications as soon as new answers/edits are posted, whereas selecting 'Follow Question' option ensures the question appears in your home news feed.

Getting most out of Quora

Since I started using Quora, some interesting observations grabbed my attention that leads to better utilization of this useful platform. Some of these trends/observations are very elementary applicable to almost every social media service, while others are unique to Quora. So let's get started and see how we can get the maximum benefit/returns from Quora by using these simple tips and tricks.
  • Upload your avatar - If you've used Digg, you can remember some of its power users (e.g. babyman) just by their avatars. It helps build your brand among thousands of enthusiasts in your niche. After creating your profile, make sure you've uploaded your avatar.
  • Complete your profile - Don't left your profile information incomplete. Fill-in all the fields, as Quora's search functionality is extremely powerful. If you want to widen your reach, make sure you keep your profile updated.
  • Don't ask just for the sake of asking - That's what a good percentage of users do without thinking about the consequences that may lead to being marked as a spammer. Resist the temptation to bombard your followers with countless questions.
  • Make your question unique and interesting - That's one of the primary factors that ensures you get the maximum responses from the Quora community. It also helps in building your reputation. Some of the best Quora power users are known for their rich set of interesting questions.
  • Liberally up-vote the best answers - Promoting good content ensures others also get good stuff and at the same time you get new followers widening your reach.
  • Share on social stream - Quora lets you directly post your activity on twitter and facebook. This helps in getting more eyeballs for your questions and answers.
  • Select all topics related to a question - Whenever you post a question, take some time and select all the related categories. This ensures a large network views your question.
  • Tag people, questions and topics - That's how you grab attention and make the resource more useful and credible. Here I must warn about overdoing it, as it may put your question/response in the review queue.
  • Redirect your question to a parent question (if any) - Often you will find that your question completes or adds value to a similar question asked earlier. It's the perfect situation to redirect your question to the related question. This way you add value to the original question and will get more responses from the people already monitoring the original question.
  • Keep home feed clean and uncluttered - to ensure you don't waste your time reading junk. Select relevant topics and unfollow those disseminating irrelevant stuff on regular basis.
  • Ask questions directly to active/power users - If you think, your question has the potential to go viral, don't hesitate to directly pass it on to a power user. If he responded (positive or negative), your question is bound to be received well by the Quora community.
  • Avoid commenting anonymously - Nobody loves anonymity within a social group. If you disagree with an answer, down voting is one of the options. Sometimes its very useful when you follow a question anonymously just to watch the heated debate going on among your competitors.
  • Keep you account index-able -Quora has an option of search engine privacy. By default, it is disabled. When enabled, your Quora profile and all the related activities are shown as anonymous user in search result pages. If you're looking to build your authority/reputation, you'd like to keep it off.
  • Help new users - Quora provides the flexibility to edit the questions posted by the community. This helps in building connections thus improving the overall browsing experience. It's very helpful for new users who are looking for someone experienced to help them out in getting used to Quora.
So what are you waiting for? Head over to Quora to exchange the best with like-minded peers. Grow your authority, be recognized as an expert and give your best to the community. Before I close, I must mention about the fast and clean interface Quora engineers have developed for the community. There's no heavy flash/scripts that makes a site sluggish. The interface is minimal and extremely fast. So let's get connected on this excellent social media platform.

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About Rajeev Edmonds

MintBlogger author - Rajeev EdmondsRajeev Edmonds has been blogging since 2006 about digital marketing, social media and of course about problogging. He specializes in WordPress installation and Thesis theme customization. He is the founder and editor of MintBlogger where he blogs about new media strategies.

Since April, 2012, he's making his living entirely from his blogging efforts. He holds a post graduate degree in computer applications and loves to dig in CSS/HTML code. Read more →

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