Social media sites have grown rapidly in the last few years and have already splintered into a fairly diverse range of sites. From Twitter to Quora and back again there is a whole range of ways of connecting. There’s been a significant growth in one type of site that can be particularly useful for business to business communications, the Q&A forum, such as Quora and LinkedIn. The latter is primarily a professional profiling site, but it does contain an excellent and well respected forum section.
Search engine results have, in recent years, become less reliable and tend to produce pages of salesy, badly informed material that is not of great use if you’re looking for specific, well-crafted technical answers and solutions. Sites like Yahoo Answers are great, but the quality of answer can be very varied and is not often hugely accurate; occasionally you’ll find a well thought out knowledgeable answer, but usually you’ll have to bruise your head pretty severely by bashing it off the nearest wall before you do. With Quora and LinkedIn, you’ll find there’s a focus on quality answers and members tend to be leading experts and professionals in their fields.
Basic Tips for Q&A Posting
Q&A sites can be used not only for finding relevant information but for marketing your products; however, direct marketing is a complete no-no on this type of site and will, effortlessly, alienate the audience. Key tactics to employ are as follows;
Don’t waffle when providing answers to questions, but answer the question directly and then back this up with more definitive or detailed information. People are using Q&A sites for either questions, answers or both. If you don’t respond clearly you’ll not get a lot of attention.
Be respectful of other users. Arguing or being a bit troll-like will not help promote your company. Having said that debates, of the relatively heated variety, can get some attention on these sites, but play nice if disagreeing and back up your point of view with hard facts. In the B2B sections of these sites you’ll find that users are generally professionals, so it helps to put over a professional impression.
Don’t log onto Quora or LinkedIn and produce a rash of answers or questions once a week. Take a steady approach and keep things consistent. A few, quality and well thought out responses will be better received than the blanket bombing approach, that is rather too like spam, that you’ll find on some sites. Most users are on this type of site because search engine results to their questions are too salesy or too facile. Consistency and quality are crucial.
While most of your marketing efforts are likely to be aimed at gaining new customers, Q&A sites offer a longer term benefit. Users often refer each other to trusted and well respected sources of information and if you are one of these then potential leads can head your way with a relatively small amount of effort. Q&A sites offer the chance to build a serious reputation for excellence on a long term basis and should certainly form part of your social media strategy.
Try to focus on your main areas of expertise, those most relevant to your own products. Bearing in mind that quality is the key here and try not to produce more content for this type of site than you have time for. Regular quality posts on Q&A sites will help to establish you as a market leader far more effectively than frequent posts lacking detail or authority. On the Q&A sites quality beats quantity every time.
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