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Got Answers? Q&A 101

November 8, 2010 | By | One Comment

Why did Wham split up? What’s the best way to get pregnant? Type a question into your favorite search engine and you’ll likely see results from question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers,, or

Now social media is updating the Q&A model. One example is the site Quora. Founded in 2009, the company website states their goal is to “streamline the creation, distribution, and consumption of vast quantities of knowledge.” And, much like a wiki, Quora information can be created, edited, or organized by anybody.  Similarly,, a B2B focused Q&A and flash deals site recently referred to as the Groupon for the business world in the Wall Street Journal’s article B2B’s get their Groupon. Two-year-old networking site is trying to replicate the success of group-buying sites with a twist: It lists only discounted products and services for businesses, not consumers, and provide office professionals and small businesses a place to get recommendations from a peer community.

Solve Problems. Become a Resource.

How can businesses leverage Q&A sites? By posting clear and relevant answers. In other words, by positioning yourself as a problem solver. For example, one recent Quora user asked: What typefaces complement Helvetica best? There were two answers, both written by professional designers.

The site attaches the question or response to the author’s profile, which features a short biography and a log of the other questions or responses the person’s participated in. As a result, users can decide how relevant the answer might be and even ask the person a question directly.

Quora and OfficeArrow aren’t the only game in the Q&A market. You might be familiar with LinkedIn Answers, but new biz resources are appearing as well. Entrepreneur site recently launched a public beta community-driven question and answer forum. Users post queries, such as what percentage of equity to give to a CEO or how to deal with online customer complaints.

The key to brand participation in Q&A’s is to be genuinely helpful. People seeking responses aren’t looking for a heavy-handed, spam-like answer. They want solutions they can use. When you become the person who provides that content, it’s the start of a relationship. And while it may not be a relationship that provides immediate and measurable ROI, it is the foundation for a connection that produces growth down the line.

Now it’s your turn to ask us questions. To learn more about incorporating question and answer sites into your strategy, contact the social media answer team at Social Strategy1.

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