Lecture 7.1: Exploring Social News Sites

In Chapter 10, you learned how social news sites hold great promise for helping you promote yourself or business. The following article provides six reasons why social news sites can play an important in promoting a business online.


Six Reasons Why You Should Care About Social News (Links to an external site.)
Getting 50,000+ page views in a day is just the beginning
From Gregory Go, former About.com Guide

Social news is a type of social media website. Submitted links are the centerpiece of this type of social media.

Three core features of social news:

  1. Users submit links to articles, photos, videos, etc.
  2. Users vote on submitted content.
  3. Highest rated content is featured on the homepage.

Some of the more popular social news sites are Digg (Links to an external site.), Reddit (Links to an external site.), and Mix (Links to an external site.).

Here are 6 reasons why social news matters for your business or website.

1. Massive Amounts of Traffic

The biggest attraction of social news sites is the massive amount of traffic they can bring in a short period of time. It can be upwards of 50,000+ page views in a single day. Getting on the homepage of Digg once often wakes up an addict-like craving in the webmaster to “go popular” again.

Unfortunately, most of those 50k readers from a social news site will immediately leave your site after reading the article. Without clicking on any ads, looking around the site, or buying any products (or subscribing to your feed). On top of that, having thousands of them visiting your site at the same time might kill your web server. Some people come right out and say Digg traffic sucks.

Yes, the vast majority of social news visitors won’t “convert” (whatever that means to your particular website), but they’re still worth it because of what comes after the massive wave of traffic.

Besides, who would rather not get those 50,000 page views? Not me.

2. Bump in Subscribers and Regular Readers

The biggest social news sites like Digg or Reddit can send upwards of 50,000 page views in a single day. It’s a big win even if only 1% of the primary traffic spike finds your site interesting enough to bookmark, subscribe, share, or blog about. That’s potentially 500 new subscribers or sales!

The good news is that we can expect the conversion rate to increase as more niche social news sites pop up. Instead of massive, non-sticky traffic, the social news sites of the (near) future will send smaller bursts of highly targeted traffic that will be much more likely to click around your site and/or subscribe to your feed or newsletter.

3. Inbound Links and Targeted Traffic

In addition to the bump in subscribers or bookmarks, you can expect a wave of new inbound links.

Those new inbound links (a vote of confidence for your site) will send a secondary wave of traffic. This wave will be smaller, but it will be highly targeted traffic.

The links themselves add significant long-term value because the number and relevancy of inbound links to your website directly determines how well you rank in search engine results.

4. High Return On Investment

When done properly, a social media campaign can provide a very high [Return on Investment].

You can spend a day or so writing one article. If that article goes popular on one or more social sites, you can expect thousands of visitors and links.

Going with our previous estimate of a 1% conversion rate, compare a successful social news campaign with the cost of acquiring 500 new subscribers or customers. How many comments would you have to leave on other blogs? How many clicks (and how much per click) would you have to pay to get that kind of sales bump?

5. Establish Your Online Brand / Reputation

If you are an insanely helpful and interesting contributor to the community, you can build quite a following in your niche. Having potential customers see you as an industry/niche leader is a very big competitive advantage.

A social news site is just another form of an online community. The same strategies and benefits of successful forum marketing (Links to an external site.) apply to social media sites. Be helpful. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t over-promote yourself.

6. Social News Is The Future — And We Need More Thought Leaders

Social media is still in its infancy. The field is currently dominated by tech and humor centric sites that appeal to an early adopter user base.

But it’s expanding. Social news is getting more mainstream everyday. Within 5 years, we’ll see a social news site for every conceivable topical or business niche.

Whether you sell Harry Potter books or write a blog about rare orchids, there’s probably a social news site being built (or already built) for you. Social news is expanding into an ever larger number of niches. And we’re going to need thought leaders in every niche.

Sites like Mix (Links to an external site.) let users create their own categories, and only see those categories on the Mix homepage. This feature lets users basically “create their own” social news site. Digg is planning to roll out a similar feature within a few months, and Reddit has recently open sourced its source code for anyone to use. Other open source software like Pligg (Links to an external site.) are powering niche social news sites.

Here are some niche content aggregators:


Lecture 7.2: The Decline of Article Directories

As you learned in Chapter 11, content marketing is an incredibly effective way to promote your website. Once-upon-a-time, free article directories were a great place to submit articles that website owners would post on their own sites, driving up your website traffic and search engine rankings. However, the value of article directories (Links to an external site.) has dramatically declined. In fact, as the following article points out, the are now very good reasons for marketers to avoid them altogether.

 


7 Reasons Why Article Directories Will Hurt Your Site
Mitchell Wright l SEO Blog

Article marketing used to be a very popular SEO technique. The main idea behind the concept would be that you could write an article on a topic related to your niche and submit it to as many online article directories as you could. It was also possible to use an article “spinner” that would automatically generate unique content based on one unique article that you wrote. You would then get a link back to your site. Article marketing by submitting to directories was very popular back then for a good reason: it actually worked.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case anymore. In fact, submitting articles to various directories, even the popular ones, isn’t just pointless, it can actually harm your site. Here are some reasons why:

1. Your Articles Will Often Be of Poor Quality

The fact is, the majority of people are simply poor writers. And we all know that with the recent algorithm updates, Google frowns upon poor quality content (Links to an external site.). Some webmasters believe that they can outsmart Google by posting hundreds of articles to various directories and in order to do so, they will hire dirt cheap writers that promise to give them “quality, unique articles” for a low price like $1 each. In most cases, what you will get in return are articles that are so poorly written that you’re left scratching your head as to what the author was trying to mean. Other times, the work will simply be plagiarized, with the “writer” lifting an existing article from the web and changing a few words here and there. Using such articles for SEO is at best a waste of time, at worst a way to incur a severe penalty.

2. Article Directories Themselves are Repositories of Bad Content

Even if you do manage to write highly engaging, unique and interesting content, your articles will be placed on a website where good content quality is the exception, rather than the norm. If you want proof, simply go read other articles on the directory that you’re uploading to. Many will be loaded with spelling and grammar errors. Others will be nothing more than thinly veiled advertisements for whatever website the author is promoting in their links, without giving the reader any useful information. Because of this, search engines like Google tend to have a pretty low opinion of article directories.

3. Article Directories Give a Bad User Experience

Due to the poor quality of the content presented, very few articles in directories will actually be useful to a human reader that is looking for an answer to a question they have, or to gather information on a certain topic they’re interested in. For this reason, Google will give very little value to article directories themselves (Links to an external site.). If you do a query now, you are very unlikely to find content from directories on the first page, unless you are searching for a very specific and obscure keyword.

4. Duplicate Content Is Bad

Most webmasters know that having duplicate content on their own site is very bad for SEO. But so is posting the same article to dozens of different sites with your links in them. In an effort to get around this, some will choose to use article spinning software that will introduce subtle variations within the text to make it appear unique.

This may have worked back in 2009, but doesn’t anymore. Google’s most recent algorithm updates are now able to detect more spun and “nearly identical” content than before. This can lead to your site being penalized in rankings.

5. Too Many Links Within the Content

Rules related to the number of links you may include within your article will vary from one directory to the next. Some will allow only one or two links, while others don’t place a limit on the number that you can include. Some webmasters will abuse this option and fill their articles with links back to their website. The result: the article produced would look unprofessional to a human reader and will bear all the hallmarks of a “made for SEO” piece.

Google is now smart enough to detect excessive links within content, especially placing links where they just wouldn’t make sense to a human reader. Therefore, there are really no SEO benefits to putting a dozen links in your articles and uploading them to a directory.

6. There are Better Places to Post Your Content To

Just because article directories are now mostly dead when it comes to SEO, it doesn’t mean that content marketing (Links to an external site.) is out. Search engines like Google still love high-quality, informative and original content. If you are able to produce such content, or have it produced for you, don’t waste it by uploading it to low quality article directories. There are many places where your content will be very useful and will bring you SEO benefits, in addition to traffic to your own site.

Starting your own blog will definitely still be beneficial, as long as it is updated regularly with fresh content that is related to your niche. You can use social media to further promote your blog posts and bring attention to them.

Another way to take advantage of your content is to become a guest blogger on another website. This will give you the possibility of gaining high-quality backlinks to your site and can even help you build authority in your niche. But you have to be careful about where you make these posts. Blogs that allow anyone to submit posts about anything they want are usually not appreciated very much by Google. Instead, you should build relationships with other webmasters that run a blog which is related to your niche. While very few will be able to get their posts published on a major website like Forbes or Cnet, if you take the time to network, you might be able to become a guest blogger on sites that has a good reputation and is already ranked high in search results.

7. You Will Be Wasting Your Time and Money

You-Will-Be-Wasting-Your-Time-and-Money All the time that you spend creating, buying or spinning articles that end up on article directories, plus all the money you would spend on automatic publishing tools, content spinners, and premium memberships at directories (which actually don’t give you anything useful) can be better spent on things that will actually be beneficial for your site.

You could use the money to develop online advertising and marketing campaigns that will bring actual quality traffic to your site, in addition to helping you become well recognized in your niche if people share your site via social media (Links to an external site.). You could also use your time to improve various on-site factors, such as creating useful content for your own site or blog, changing your site’s layout to make it more user friendly and easy to navigate, or write newsletters that you would send out to the subscribers of your email list.

The Bottom Line

Essentially, article marketing by submitting content to article directories no longer works like it did before and can actually hurt your site. There are other strategies that you can use if you want to improve your website’s ranking for your targeted keywords.


Lecture 7.3: Publishing an eBook

As pointed out in Chapter 11, e-books are a great way to promote a brand, product, service and/or website. According to Statista (Links to an external site.), the e-book industry (Links to an external site.) is here to stay, showing healthy projections. e-book sales are forecast to account for about a quarter of global book sales. Consumer e-books alone are projected to generate nearly 20 billion U.S. dollars in revenue (Links to an external site.)Publishing an E-Book can be an effective part of your content marketing strategy.  In the article below, Jordan Wahl speaks with experts to learn tips and best practices for e-book publishing.

Creating your first E-Book?
15 Marketing Experts share tips and best practices 
by Jordan Wahl l G2 Crowd Learning Hub

So if I’m guessing correctly, you’re here because you’ve decided to learn how to make an eBook (Links to an external site.). Am I right? Thought so.

Pretty smart move on your part – for deciding to publish an eBook (Links to an external site.) that is. You see, eBooks are becoming increasingly popular as part of marketing strategies, and for good reason.

Content is the backbone of a solid marketing strategy. Therefore, the quality of a business’s content can make or break its marketing strategy. So understanding how to create content that works is important.

And eBooks, they work.

That being said, let’s get you moving on your first eBook!

Tips for creating an eBook

Creating an eBook doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with a little help from those who do it best.

With that, here are 15 tips from marketing professionals who have mastered the eBook game:

eBook Tip #1

My top recommendation when making an ebook is first testing that your target audience is interested in the subject that you plan to write about. To ascertain interest, check which blog subjects most appeal to readers as measured by regular traffic to specific articles through Google Analytics or your CMS.

Once you have a few subjects that you could confidently expand on, survey your audience through a Facebook and Twitter poll on what ebook topic they would be most likely to read. This will get your audience engaged and interested and will allow you to test ideas with your target demographic.

– Nicolas Straut, SEO Associate, Fundera (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #2

When creating an eBook, it is important to understand that this type of content functions best as a way to establish your brand as a Thought Leader in your industry. Considering that, it is imperative to research the subject matter your audience is truly interested in. Use tools like Keyword.io to assess what sort of information people are looking for. Once that is determined, find a way to present the information in a unique way to differentiate your content from your competitors.

A good example of this is to create your eBook in an interactive format rather than the traditional approach of a static .PDF. This works for a myriad of reasons.

Content with interactivity has been proven to be more engaging and leads to a higher rate of conversions. In addition, the SEO value of an interactive piece is much greater. eBooks presented in .PDF format are severely limited from a SEO perspective.. With an interactive eBook being web-based, search engines will be able to index the entire page and this will help drive organic traffic from search.

– Jonathan Rosenfeld, Director of Demand Generation, Bython Media (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #3

  • Don’t sweat the word count – With an eBook, you have more flexibility when it comes to the length of your content. That’s because you don’t have to be concerned about how much it costs to print, store, or ship a physical book. There are some ebooks that only have a few thousand words, but the knowledge in those words makes them bestsellers. At the same time, there are books that it would take weeks for most people to read, but only offer a few needles of new information in a haystack of fancy words. Don’t focus on the word count, focus on the quality of the words you’re presenting to the world.
  • Be careful with images – Don’t be fearful of using images, but don’t let them do all the heavy lifting. When it comes to eBooks, you have to remember that most people will be reading on smaller devices. A printed picture doesn’t look the same as it does digitally, especially on a 5-inch screen. If you think there is no way to get around including a particular image, include it. But if it’s more supplemental than essential, leave it out.
  • Delegate as needed – You don’t have to do it all yourself. Sometimes trying to take on a multi-faceted project alone only leads to disaster. You spread yourself too thin and end up with a mediocre product at best. Don’t be afraid to be the idea engine behind the ghostwriter, editor, proofreader, cover designer, and publisher you’ll be working with. Most decent books on the market are a team effort, not a solo project.

– T.L. CurtisVolo Press (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #4

My recommended best practices are to plan the subject matter of your book in advance. Start by identifying the core issue you want to focus on in-depth. Plan out the related issues that have a bearing on your core issue so you can explore in greater detail as your manuscript develops. This will help to ensure you get started writing rather than procrastinating.

So, for example, in my recent book, I wanted to explain to small business owners why a Google My Business listing is so important for local search. I then developed that into how they should go about optimizing the listing fully. From there, I was able to explore all the related, and vitally important factors, that need to be tackled in order to give the optimized the listing the best chance of attracting local search users. By planning those steps from the start, I was able to stay on track despite the distractions that come from running a digital marketing agency.

As an aside, I also think its good to know the way you’re going to publish up front. So for me, knowing the process of uploading to smashwords.com, knowing the editor I would use to format the script and having planned the steps to publish to Kindle, helped to ensure I had an end publishing goal and outcome.

– Alistair Dodds, Marketing Director and Co-Founder, Smoking Chili Media (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #5

Whatever your budget is for writing the content, you’ll need to plan on spending that on visual design too.

These days people judge the value of content based on how it looks visually and it’s crazy but design almost matters more than the content itself.

I have also learned that 50% of your overall budget for the e-book creation needs to be allocated to promotion.

It’s sad but even the best e-book in the world won’t do anything unless you’ve got a promotion campaign behind it.

Promotion is another strategy altogether, but if you’re going to invest in creating an asset such as an e-book you need to plan on a few months of promotion and outreach to get it off the ground otherwise all of your hard work will definitely fall on deaf ears.

– Zach Hendrix, Co-Founder, GreenPal (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #6

For your first eBook, I recommend that it look like a marketing document. Use images and make it look desktop published, as opposed to a word-processed document. This includes a well-designed cover page and clickable Table of Contents (TOC).

Also, have links out to web pages where content can be updated as required. This will keep your document fresh with a longer shelf life. Distribute it as a PDF document so it’s not editable and can be opened on both computers and mobile devices.

– Vito Michael Santoro, Co-Founder, Vaetas, LLC (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #7

eBooks have changed dramatically over the years and today, there are many more places where businesses can share them. The obvious way to leverage them is to drive leads to your website, using the content as a gateway in which you offer potential customers some useful information in exchange for their contacts. But with the rise of SlideShare (now owned by LinkedIn) and the popularity of eBooks on Amazon, there are exciting new ways to share your content.

Knowing that your eBook could be shared across many platforms, here are my tips on how to make the most of them:

  • Keep it educational – There’s nothing more disappointing to an eBook fan than downloading a book only to find out it’s a 20-page ad for a company. Give readers knowledge, using cited data and statistics. If you have proprietary research that your company has conducted, that’s even better.
  • Don’t overload pages with too much text – More and more viewers are reading eBooks on tablets and smartphones. Cramming too much text on each page will not make it a positive reading experience. Mix up your copy with compelling images, charts, graphs, etc.
  • The look/feel should be consistent with your brand – Even though the book should not be an ad, you’ll want your audience to get a sense of your company’s brand. Use colors and language that are within your brand’s guidelines.

– Michelle Barry, CEO, Mesmerize Media Consulting (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #8

Include clickable links in your e-book.

Unlike traditional printed guides, e-books offer the ability to add clickable element—and yet this is a feature that is woefully underutilized. You can improve the experience a reader has with your material by including internal linkages, such as from the table of contents to various sections of the guide.

This can be especially effective and valuable if your e-book is long and/or text heavy because it allows them to bypass excessive scrolling. In addition, external links can provide quick access to relevant resources and references that may further interest the reader.

– Greg Bullock, Marketing Manager, TheraSpecs (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #9

Don’t try to make a 50-page eBook right off the bat. Ebooks can be short! Even a small 3-5 page study with data images and infographics counts.

Make sure you are providing valuable information that a reader can put into action rather than a blown out piece or promotional information on you or your business.

Make your eBook subject-specific and have a unique perspective that is your own. Remember, you can revise and re-release the eBook again at a later time as new information becomes available – especially if you are getting several follow up questions surrounding your material.

Be sure to brand the cover to your business and have your contact information in your page footers and on the final page.

– Bernard May, CEO, National Positions (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #10

Writing an eBook can gain help you traction in making your name or company standing out of the crowd. But, it’s not an easy task, Why? because most of the people on the web don’t care what you write. To make sure your content stands out, you have to do complete research and show your prospects in a more creative way. Below are the few tips and tricks to make sure your eBook makes an impact towards readers:

  • Do your research about a topic that you will need to write on that eBook. This will make easy to stitch up things according to your topic. Do some keyword research also, this will be helpful in managing what individual are searching over the internet.
  • Be creative in writing and present your eBook more creatively. Not just another downloadable content, but be precise in what you write.
  • Use graphics enhancements, this will allow your readers to be more interested in your content and enjoy the content more.
  • Length of the content should be taken into serious consideration. As Einstein said it; If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand well enough.
  • Promotion of the eBook should be done according to your SEO. Social media promotion can be effective but there is a cost to it. If you are into free marketing than SEO can help you. Select the title of the eBook and placements on your webpage. Don’t clutter the reader, just help them to locate your eBook on your webpage.

– Adeel Shabir, Content Marketing Executive, SIA Enterprises (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #11

For someone coming up with their first ebook, understanding the right audience can be the deal breaker. Unlike a blog that can cater to different audiences with a varied understanding of topics, an ebook must be tailored for only one type of audience. Essentially, that means you must know beforehand where your target audience stands in terms of understanding or sophistication and where they plan to reach post finishing the ebook.

If you are making an ebook for beginners, you can’t stuff information that is only known to the intermediate or the advanced level. Or, explaining beginner terms to an advanced audience is also a counterproductive approach. Also, keep the topic uptight and don’t deviate from the end goal the ebook is trying to achieve.

Next, you must assess the type of conversations your audience have in their regular life or else; you might fail to connect even after pulling together the best information available on the planet in the ebook. Use words they are familiar with, use tooltips where you think they might face difficulty in comprehending a concept or term; if you want to engage them right from the start.

Also, spice up the ebook with the right design elements. Understand the pictures that your audience frames in their mind post reading certain words and use imagery and colors according to that only.

– Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-Founder, Mettl (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #12

  • Get the branding spot on – Most businesses use eBook for lead captures or education. It’s therefore paramount that you brand your eBook accordingly. You need to make sure that the eBook follows your brand identity and every page has at least the company name in the header or footer. This also helps, if the person shares the eBook with someone else.
  • Make it interactive! – Many users will read the eBook on a mobile device (eBook reader or Tablet) instead of their computer. Therefore, you should make sure that the eBook is interactive. That is, there is navigation and internal bookmarks work. We’ve all seen 200page ebook with no way of navigating and you have to spend time getting to the right section and then you have to go back to the start if you wish to find another section. Most software will easily allow you to do this when you’re exporting the eBook (even Microsoft Word!).
  • Don’t overcrowd it – eBooks aren’t like traditional books. They should be colorful and easy to read. Don’t fall into the trap of having pages of writing and nothing else. Give your eBook to some friends or colleagues before sending it out, and see how far they read and what their response is.
  • Send it to them on multiple platforms – Most eBooks are part of a lead capture process, whereby you have to enter your email to get it delivered to you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve signed up for an eBook, received the email… and then never opened it! Give them to option to send it to them via Messenger, directly to their Kindle, Viber, or even by SMS if that’s something that would appeal to your target audience.
  • Minimize it – A well put together eBook will usually take up at least 10MB. People are impatient and by the time it downloads they might have moved onto their next task and completely forgot about it – forever. There are plenty of free minimization tools available online so make sure you take advantage of them.

– Peter Selmeczy, CEO, SEO Tech (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #13

  • Focus in on one specific idea rather than trying to fit several separate ideas into one piece of content (even if they seem related).
  • Decide where this piece of content sits in your buyer’s journey and which persona you’re writing for. Resist the urge to write an eBook that covers multiple parts of the buyer’s journey or multiple personas so you can be specific and relevant to just one audience.
  • Before you start writing, build an outline featuring the key points that will reinforce your top-level idea. Use those points as your section headings and build out the content below them, using consistent formatting and lengths where possible.
  • Make it easy to read by breaking information up with headings, subheadings, lists, illustrations, images, and pull quotes.
  • Ask customers, partners, influencers, and other experts for their perspective on your big idea and weave their quotes and headshots throughout the content to reinforce your message.
  • If you’re creating an eBook from scratch, think about how you will atomize the content for publication elsewhere, such as on your blog or social media channels. If you’re building an eBook based on smaller chunks of content that already exist, such as a series of blog posts on the same topic, invest your time in writing a solid introduction and smooth transitions so it doesn’t just feel like you slapped a bunch of random blog posts together.

– Cassandra Jowett, Director of Content Marketing, PathFactory (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #14

  • If you’re new to writing ebooks, make a list of high-quality sources in your industry. These are sources you can keep coming back to for ideas, knowledge, quotes, statistics, etc., so you aren’t researching from scratch on every topic.
  • Watch your tone. – Think about what kind of tone your readers would expect from your brand – serious, funny, technical, cheeky, etc. Make sure your tone is consistent throughout your writing, so it’s not throwing the reader off and distracting them from the content.
  • Check your readability. – Formatting makes a big difference in how well people engage with content. Be sure to include plenty of line breaks to create space between the text. Use bolded text to highlight your key points and phrases. Pull out quotes from the body copy so they’re easy to spot. Use headers regularly to create topical sections.
  • Don’t skip professional editing. – If you don’t have someone on your team experienced with editing, then hire a professional freelancer. There are plenty of ebooks out there that undermine a brand’s credibility because they clearly skipped the editing phase. An error here or there isn’t the end of the world, but when readers are distracted from your message by errors and inconsistencies, that can really injure their view of your brand and make them choose not to spend money with you.

– Krista Brubaker, Content Marketing Strategist, BizLibrary (Links to an external site.)

eBook Tip #15

Make sure it’s worth their contact info.

Yes, you may be giving away your eBook for free, but you’re still asking for something that is of great value to you and personal to them – their contact information.

If you’re planning on gating your eBook content, make sure the contents of it are clear, concise and actionable. It’s not about the number of pages. It’s about getting the point across. I recommend including a few different elements outside of the main body of copy, such as checklists and quizzes. This will not only keep your readers engaged but help relay your message in a variety of ways.

– Rory Schåff, Digital Media Manager, McGrath/Power PR (Links to an external site.)

 


Case Study 7.1: How Business Pioneers Take Advantage of Quora

Introduction

Quora, the easy to navigate question-and-answer service built on a social media backbone, has soared in popularity since launching in 2009. Founded by Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, the site has already attracted high-level executives, journalists, industry insiders, and entrepreneurs, all eager to answer a vast array of questions for free. The site is rife with crowd-sourced queries, with a comprehensive listing and incentive to stay in touch with a network of people.

What makes Quora unique as compared to other Q&A sites, such as LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers, is its utilitarian interface and active member community. Quora’s design creates a positive user experience. Members can post and answer questions by category, making information retrieval a relatively painless process. Quora’s streamlined interface entices “users to share their knowledge and expertise to create an ever-deepening (and searchable) database of answers.” The design also makes it easy for users to vote on answers, moving them up or down in ranking based on the perceived quality of the answers, a factor that tends to push the best answers to the top.

In addition to a superior design, Quora’s growing and active community of area experts, provide in-depth, accurate, and relevant answers: “the expertise of the people who answer questions on Quora is incredibly impressive and adds to the value of using the application.” In short, Quora has found a way to connect with people’s insatiable search for answers, explaining its explosive growth.

History

Quora was founded in June 2009 by Adam D’Angelo, former CTO and VP of engineering at Facebook, and Charlie Cheever, former product developer and manager at Facebook.132 Quora won the TechCrunch award for “Best New Startup or Product of 2010” and received funding from Benchmark Capital in March 2010.

Challenge

For marketers the question begging an answer is whether Quora is worth their time and effort. On a site whose range of topics stretches from “Do Silicon Valley VCs invest in European early-stage startups?” to “Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?” how can you maximize its potential for your business? We asked a few Quora [business] pioneers who’ve quickly found ways to take advantage of the site for their tips:

Strategy

1. Find new ideas to talk about.

“It’s pretty much the perfect way to beat writer’s block for your blog. Go to your topic of expertise, find the un-answered question that has the most followers, and assuming that you have an opinion on it, write an answer. Use it as inspiration or the meat for your blog post. — Naval Ravikant, founder, CEO, and chairman at online marketplace Vast.com;

2. Open the lines of communication.

“I’m not encouraging people to begin handling their business development and cold calling via Quora. It’s a terrible idea, in fact. My advice on how to connect with a tech rockstar? Follow them on Quora. Start answering the questions that you are notified that they are following. If they ultimately choose to ‘like’ your answer or comment on your answer, only then would I suggest reaching out to them via direct message. If you do so in a respectful manner you’d be surprised at the great people you’ll connect with offline. It happened for me with one of the co-founders of The Huffington Post.” —Tyler James, co-founder, Conversated Media

3. Sharpen your communication skills.

“Honestly I can’t say Quora has helped me win new business or do a great deal of networking. The value I’ve gotten out of my interaction with Quora has more been one of sharpening some of my own communication skill sets. It’s helped me evaluate concise, clear responses to questions instead of waffling. This happens both in my own evaluation of questions/answers as well as the feedback I get from the community. Just like blog writing or Tweeting, this constant evaluation of ‘what works and why’ makes me a better communicator, something that comes in handy given I work in communications.” —Vlad Ivanovic, head of Innovation at Blue Barracuda London

4. Don’t self-promote.

“The secret of building your reputation on Quora is to answer questions in which you have a deep level of knowledge. Your own company is obviously a thing in which you have expertise and that’s where you could start. You should then look at the area your company focuses on and provide answers to questions related to that area. Remember that Quora is not about self promotion but about providing the best answer to a specific question. The way you build your business with Quora is by helping the Quora community. Its members will eventually notice you and, hopefully, start using your services.” —Tristan Louis, CEO of Keepskor and writer at TNL.net

5. Ask good questions.

“Questions are more important than answers. There is some spirit of competitiveness in how Quora works that encourages people not only to provide the best answer but also the best question. Picasso once said computers are useless because they only provide answers. In Quora the value is in the fact that you need to ask a good/interesting/intriguing question to get feedback from all those people out there. A lot of the work I do with entrepreneurs revolves around just that: focus on asking the right question and answers will arrive. For a business or a business leader, having the knowledge of which are the key questions driving his/her business provides a great advantage.” — Hod Fleishman, founder and chief of safety at GreenRoad, a maker of driver technology

6. Build a Presence

“Use your real name, mention your business, and have a full, succinct profile. Quora, like Twitter, is not a social network where you follow friends a la Facebook, but rather, you should follow thought-leaders in your industry, colleagues, competitors, and anyone else who is making contributions that seem interesting. Everyone is an expert on something: contribute to the community and answer questions. I’ve engaged in some interesting conversations and found some very smart people to follow this way. I thought I would overwhelm myself by following too many questions and topics, but Quora actually curates interests well and so feel free to mark down many.” —Alexander Niehenke, associate at San Francisco venture capital firm Crosslink Capital

7. Monitor and engage.

“Using Google alerts with the query ‘Quora jess3’ for instance, will in real time for free send me e-mails mentioning (my company) Jess3. Start threads for areas you sell an expertise in, and stay engaged. Be a part of the conversations in your industry. This is how you build [the reputation of your business] on Quora. You might also want to put a Google alert for your competition’s mentions on Quora. In general, you want to know what your industry is talking about, and this will include your rivals, partners and everything in between. Quora is an active version of Wikipedia. A business has to respond to any mentions of their brand.” —Jesse Thomas, CEO and founder, Jess3, an interactive creative agency

8. Do market research.

“It’s easy to look up topics and questions that are currently top-of-mind for my prospective customers. In this way, Quora excels as a market research tool. When I can contribute value to a question—whether through an authoritative answer, or a suggested refinement to the question itself—I can also help subtly market whatever I’m working on as well. From a marketing perspective, Quora is about being authoritative on a subject, and building relationships over the course of multiple questions with the people who share similar interests. In a sense, it’s very similar to other forms of online marketing. The key for me is this: The extremely tight subject matter focus and smaller scope allows for greater intimacy, and lowers the barriers to being a consistent and useful contributor—even compared to something like Twitter!” —Dean Blackburn, founder of NaviDate.com

9. Prove your worthiness.

“This includes providing quality answers and brushing up on Quora icons such as The Scobelizer. Learn how to recognize and avoid the ‘dumb neighborhoods.’ Posting there offers a very poor ROI. If you have an easily stimulated sarcasm gland, fight hard to resist the temptation to troll the dumb neighborhoods. This will only get you banned. Buddy up with other newbies by ‘following’ them so that you have someone to talk to because the coolest kids will most likely continue to ignore you. Finally, understand and appreciate that Quora is a good place to connect with interesting people.” —Peter Ireland, former CEO at Rubicon Capital Corp., who now runs www.tycoonplaybook.com

10. Don’t over-promote yourself.

“Don’t try and market your site or product—put information about what you are working on, what you own, etc., in your bio/profile, but don’t market it unless there is a specific situation that it adds value. Figure out how to give back to the community. Answer questions that are related to your area of competency and that you have a unique vantage point (based on your experience) that can add value and benefit the community. Don’t be afraid to talk about your product/service, but only do it when there is value added. The bottom line rule is: add value by giving the askers of questions a useful and insightful answer.” —Marc Gayle, founder of CompVersions.com

Results

Clearly from the advice and comments above, businesses are successfully using Quora for a variety of marketing purposes. Quora itself is off to a fast start with 200,000 members regularly returning each month, and a March 2010 infusion of $11 million in funding from Benchmark Capital, which valued the start-up at $86 million. Through business development, programs like the Top Writers, streamlining of its platforms and algorithms, as of May 2019, the company was valued at over $2 billion, with over 300 million monthly visitors.