Quora is the new crowdsourcing question site "continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it." It's also been described as "ask a question, get a blog post in reply."
But what is the best use for this next evolution of a question site?
For a pragmatic comparison, I began by matching Quora against LinkedIn for an industry-specific question. In my work with Spoken, I participate in a number of highly active groups related to the call center space on LinkedIn. Which would garner more relevant responses, I wondered, LinkedIn or Quora?
So I posed the same question on Quora and on the key LinkedIn call center groups, including Worldwide Contact Center Professionals, Best Practices in Call Centers Worldwide and Contact Center Network Group. Combined, the three groups have memberships over 29,000 call center professionals.
The industry question
What factors will influence SaaS adoption in the call center space over the next five years?
As you can see, I tagged the question "call centers" "saas" and "cloud computing." And the resounding response was... nothing. Big fizzle on LinkedIn, which is usually an area of lively debate. On Quora, the question garnered one response.
The social media research question
So perhaps the question wasn't the most compelling. On Quora, I switched gears and asked something I need to research for a client:
Perhaps the first question was too forward-looking, or perhaps the call center industry was just not too involved in LinkedIn and Quora that day. Whatever the reason, the social media research question called forth quite a few valuable responses. Eight in total, which was plenty to see a common thread.
- Radian6 is the best (five votes)
- Analysis is subjective and based on goals (no tools suggested)
- Radian6 and Alterian SM2 are the most popular; free tools Trackur, Social Mention and Addict-o-Matic also suggested
- Neilsen BuzzMetrics
- Sprout Social
- Visible Technologies and ContextMine
- Trampoline for sales support; Attensity for listening; SAS Institute for general purpose; Lithium for community analytics
- Social Radar for enterprise
In general, the responses were rich in content, giving specific reasons as to why one tool was better for specific contexts. And I'll admit to being surprised at the range of answers apart from the highly expected "Radian6" and "Social Mention." Respondents seemed experienced and informed, and I've sinced checked into each tool mentioned and bookmarked for later client use.
So Quora is a win for industry research.
Tracking questions asked by others
What can be even more useful, however, is to track questions asked by others. For example, right after I signed on, I began following this interesting question:
To date, the question has been answered a whopping 53 times, including substantial responses from social media aficionados such as David Armano, Brian Solis and Richard Binhammer. Each answer could have stood alone as a short blog post; the wealth of information and opinions available was exceptional.
In fact, the question stimulated so much intelligent discussion that Mashable writer Erica Swallow wrote up a useful summary of the replies here, concluding "The consensus seems to be that the social strategist role will be integrated at the very least into a broader outward-facing community role, whether that be from the marketing point of view or from various perspectives across organizations."
Quora might just be the next iteration of Help a Reporter Out. If a reporter or blogger has a good network of contacts within Quora and formulates and tags a question well, the research will do itself, and the task will be in analyzing and summarizing the data collected.
What about you? What uses are you finding for Quora?