[Update, I have also written a 10 tips for getting the most out of Quora. I posted it on Quora itself, and it's since been distributed by Quora itself as a user tips article. Click here for the full piece.]
Quora is the new shiny thing in social media. It has been on the block for a few months now, but only really began being talked about by technology and media early adopters in November and December.
Today, the first day back at work in the UK, a veritable tidal wave hit Quora. Two weeks off with people grazing Twitter and emails whilst on holiday, the one new site everyone made a note of signing up to on their return was Quora. And so this evening, buckling under the pressure, people are reporting tripling their follower numbers and Quora.com crashing under the strain of its new popularity.
So what's the big deal? What is Quora and why is the mainstream beginning to test this site out after the early adopter buzz?
Quora mixes the best of a bunch of social sites that means it appeals to a very broad audience. You can post long articles with a subject and a post body - like a blog. You can contribute to and organise other peoples content, like with Wikipedia. You can search out threads that are in your interest area and chat to likeminded people, like on forums. And it plays very nicely with Twitter and Facebook, so you're not wasting the time you've put in elsewhere. In other words, Quora, the questions and answers social network, is the best of all the other bits of the social media ecosystem rolled into one.
Why should PR and marketing people try it out? Three compelling reasons why we have been spending some time on it here at 33 Digital:
1. Your brand is being discussed on Quora. Quora is not search-based. You can't just wait for updates to hit you or easily search them out. You need to spend time on Quora to see the discussions. This needs to be someone's job, so best make it yours.
2. Your network is moving to Quora. You may well by now have a strong social network on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and forums. They are beginning to replace some of their old social media usage with the threaded, themed discussions that take place on Quora. You might see this because they share the links elsewhere, but
3. New experts emerge as new discussions appear over on Quora. Search out questions about your brand or client and see who the most knowledgeable contributors are. They will most likely link to their Twitter accounts and other online profiles and you can begin to understand the new social media influencers in your space.
Quora is still pretty new, so you will see a lot of new functionality coming soon. In particular watch our for some things I would guess may be coming: mobile and tablet versions of the site which appeal to different browsing habits; badges that show your Quora activity or profile though your website or blog; and integration with more social networks, like YouTube video comments or other forums for example.
If you like, you can follow me on Quora here.