Quora is one of the largest general question and answer sites on the web today, but it is by no means the only one. You also have Answers.com, Stack Exchange, and a whole lot more. They all server different purposes, as well. Answers.com has a lot of pithy questions and joke submissions. Quora is for more serious discussion on various topics. Stack Exchange is heavily focused on programming, development, and other computer-focused topics.
When you think about marketing on the web, one of the ways you can go about creating content is by looking at the questions your users need answered. By providing those answers, you create quality content that draws in users. So it stands to reason that a Q&A site is going to be a good hub of possible traffic and information. The only question is, how can you leverage it to best effect? Here are ten methods you can use on Quora and any other applicable site you can find.
The key to Quora, and any other question site, is to speak from a position of authority. Anyone can come by and answer any question they like, and with enough talent for writing, they can write something plausible. They can also be completely wrong. The key to getting the “best answer” position, and consequently the most traffic, is to write from a position of authority. You want to stick to topics you know a lot about, and you need to format your profile on the site such that it displays your expertise. For example, when you visit this little-known dude’s profile, you see his title next to his name in the questions he has answered.
You can also strive to get two things that help your answers: verification and features.
Verification on Quora works much the same as on other social networks. You need to be sufficiently high profile, with name recognition such that you are either impersonated, or that users would benefit from knowing you are who you claim to be. You can read more about verification here, or click here to submit a verification request.
Features are instances where your answer has been linked to in a high profile publication. For the Obama answers linked above, you can see that some are featured on sites like HuffPost, Inc, and Forbes. You can also see cases where an answer is “upvoted by <person>, <person’s position>. High profile verified users upvoting your answers will give them more visibility and authority.
Neither one is something you can really work to achieve right away, nor are they reliable. The techniques below are all ways to use the site regardless of your verification status or support, and will work on other sites as well.
Filling out a basic profile is a prerequisite for using literally any site for traffic generation, but you should give some special attention towards optimizing yours for traffic, as well as for expertise. Be aware of how little space you have to work with.
Your profile on Quora has a headline, a bio, and a profile summary. The headline is your job title, and will appear next to your name on every question you answer or ask. I highly recommend something that showcases your authority. Your bio shows up when you answer and is a short summary for users who are interested in an at-a-glance vision of who you are. It does not support links, so save those for your summary.
Your summary is only available on your profile, but gives you much more space to work with, as well as formatting options and link support. It’s a good idea to include a few authoritative links you’ve written, mentions of publications you’ve written for and awards you’ve won, and some added humor.
Next, claim topics. Search for industry-relevant keywords and look for topics you’re an expert in, then claim them. Dragging them into your profile allows you to claim expertise in those areas, and you can write a special bio. Special bios show up when you answer something in that topic, rather than your normal generic bio. Aim for larger communities rather than smaller groups.
The other “before we begin” tip is to write top-tier answers whenever you go to write one. You’re not going to get much traffic or recognition for writing a tweet in response to a question, unless that question explicitly asks for a tweet.
Good answers have four qualities.
You can also create “bait” answers if you have content that covers the topic in detail. Write a short answer and link to your post for more information. Generally, people will appreciate it, so long as you don’t use that technique for every answer you make.
All of the big niches have great open-ended questions. You’ll see things like “What can I learn right now in 10 minutes that will be useful for the rest of my life?” Questions like this are excellent because they don’t have one fixed answer. That specific question has over 1,600 answers already, but that’s fine! There are also over 35,000 people following the question, who will be notified when a new answer shows up. It’s like being able to jump on someone else’s mailing list, while also publishing the answer publicly for non-followers to see as well.
Yes, there is a lot of competition for those questions, and you’re pretty unlikely to be a Top Answer. However, you will gain visibility and will be able to provide an original answer. That’s the key; come up with ideas and check to see if anyone has said them before. You don’t need to be 100% original in your answer, but you should be original in your telling of that answer.
Just like when marketing on Twitter, you can keep an eye on the trending topics Quora and many of the other Q&A sites maintain. These are topics that are getting a lot of attention and a lot of follows, though not necessarily a lot of answers.
Now, unfortunately, a lot of trends aren’t going to be viable. If you’re a marketing specialist, you’re probably not going to be able to answer a question about the political climate in Malawi. You aren’t going to get a large volume of answers from trending topics, so you need to make the ones you do find count for a lot. Make these some of your most excellent answers.
The beauty of a site like Quora is that even if a question has a good answer, you can still get a lot of traffic from answering it. Generally, the easiest way to do this is to go against the grain and write an unorthodox answer. Start off by acknowledging the existing answers and say something like “but my recommendation is a little different.” This hooks people into reading something that isn’t just another version of the existing answers.
Most answers are truncated until the user expands them. Make sure your first hundred or so words are enough to hook the reader, because that’s all they’ll see.
Don’t go into it just trying to stir up a fight, and don’t say something obviously wrong just to be different. Where opinions are concerned, you can take a stance that’s unorthodox. With facts, you don’t have the luxury of denial. You’ll simply be downvoted and ignored.
When you answer a question that has answers from other big name writers, particularly if they have answered recently, tag them in your answer. When you tag them, they are notified through Quora, and they have the chance to come in and look at your answer. If they like it, they can upvote it. If they don’t, they can respond to it. You can kick off a discussion, or you can pull in upvotes from people who are already influential on the site.
The biggest benefit here is that you start to be a name people recognize, and some of those people are in charge of important elements of the site, like Quora’s Top Writers list. When they recognize your name and associate you with quality, you’re more likely to make the list.
Some questions have a lot of followers but few answers. You can get quite a bit of traffic from these if you answer them, but the problem is, they’re generally difficult to answer. They require personal experience, accurate data, or some niche experience you don’t normally see. You might not be able to answer these, but you will also be able to dig deep into the question archives and find some semi-recent questions that are perfect for you.
Quora is interestingly used as a semi-review site and FAQ for a lot of products, particularly niche products. People will ask a question like “what’s the best product I can use to accomplish this task” but they will also often ask “is product X useful for this task?” Look for specific mentions of your brand or your product, as well as the core capabilities of your product, and respond to those questions.
The key here is to be honest. If your product is lacking in a certain feature, which makes it useful but less convenient for a given task, say so. If you’re working on developing a feature the user is asking about, let them know it will be coming soon. Don’t lie about the capabilities of your product.
You should in general be using Google Analytics with UTM parameters to track the traffic you bring in from Quora or your other Q&A site of choice.
Figure out which answers, which topics, and which style of answer draws in the most traffic. Spend more time looking for those kinds of questions, and less on the answers that do little to help you grow.
In some ways, Q&A sites are like blogging back before Panda hit the stage. You get the most benefit out of those sites when people recognize you, and people are most likely to recognize you when you have your name plastered all over the site.
Keep an eye on all of your major question categories and monitor them for up and coming questions that you can answer. If you see several good questions pop up on the same day, only answer one of them, and mark the others as “to answer later.” Prioritize the ones with the most followers or the fastest growth. By answering one question every day, you build up a portfolio very rapidly, and quickly become a recognized authority. You might even earn verification just from that!
It shouldn’t take much more than six months of work to be one of the top writers on the site, and within a year you should be featured in the top writers lists in your chosen topics. Quora may have hundreds of thousands of users, or even millions, but the top contributors are a relatively small group.
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