Feb 2, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Getting Beyond the Quora Hype

Quora screenshot

Over the past few weeks, there has been a wave of publicity about Quora, a service seeking to rival LinkedIn’s popular answers service. After reading some of the coverage, I decided to check it out and was a little bit disappointed. I’ve actually been an active participant of an alternative service called Focus.com.  While I see the value that services like Quora can bring, I believe that most of Quora’s current hype is due to it’s founder and funding to date. 

Right now, I’m keeping an eye on the service and seeing if Quora delivers on it’s hype.

Initial Thoughts About Quora

1. Faster Service: The last few times I’ve accessed the Quora site, the service was slow to load. This made finding questions, responding to them and posting quite laborious. I assume that these kinks will be figured out shortly. In the meantime, this will most likely slow the site’s adoption rate.

2. Registration Required: Since Quora is fairly new, businesses are still evaluating the value of participating on Quora. Unfortunately, you have to register in order to review the content. This puts a barrier not only to businesses but also to the very individuals you’re seeking to attract as subject matter experts. Furthermore, this requirement may drive the initial membership numbers; yet, the statistics will bear out how many are truly active on the site.

3. Quiz Before Asking: Before any member can post a question, there is a quiz on Quora’s recommended way of asking questions. This helps create a standard expectation about what is acceptable and unacceptable; though some may be put off by the approach.

4. Social Community: An interesting aspect about Quora is how the service brings in your social graph, instantly identifying members to follow who you’ve previously vetted.  The community can also vote up or down topics, helping to filter out quality questions/discussions.

5. Perceived or Real Influence: Since signing up for the service last week, I already have 30 followers without much work on my side. I wonder if Quora will fall into the “more followers you have, the more ‘influence’ you have” issue that surrounds Twitter and subsequent “influence” ranks.

6. Technology Elite are Present: In discussing Quora to my friend, Dennis Shiao, he highlighted how questions are being answered by some of the industry’s technology elite. I agree with him that this presents an interesting opportunity for members to get a glimpse into the thinking behind some of the industry’s top venture capitalists, technologists and entrepreneurs.

Conclusions: Don’t Put All Eggs into the Quora Basket

Quora is an interesting model where individuals can establish expertise and drive conversations around topics, brands and products. While Quora has received all the “buzz” recently, I would closely evaluate services like Quora to determine which works best for your company based on your audience, objectives and staffing resources. Once such service is Focus.com, which I’ve been an active user of.

Previously started as a lead generation service, the company morphed into its current incarnation in May 2010.  I’ll provide my insights about Focus in my next PR/marketing/social media post.

Do you agree – is Quora a case of the PR “buzz” machine getting ahead of the promise?

Other Articles on Quora:

1. Jeremiah Owyang, Quora for Business Not Allowed, But You Should Still Monitor and Respond

2. Mario Sundar, Should I Care about Quora?

3. David Armano, Quora Underscores Need for Corporate Ambassadors

9 Comments

  • Getting Beyond the Quora Hype – http://bit.ly/eRkC6F – via @jowyang @csalomonlee

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  • Getting Beyond the Quora Hype | PR Meets Marketing http://ff.im/-xpzLp

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  • Getting Beyond the #Quora Hype http://www.prmeetsmarketing.com/2011/02/02/getting-beyond-quora-hype/

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  • Digging into the Quora hype. http://ow.ly/1s0IJ5

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  • Getting Beyond the Quora Hype http://bit.ly/gmnuvG

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  • New Blog Post: Getting Beyond the Quora Hype http://goo.gl/fb/7u8QR

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  • [...] my blog posting, “Getting Beyond the Quora Hype,” I mentioned another site called Focus.com, which seeks to provide “millions of [...]

  • Hi Sean, You raise an interesting point about “Quora isn’t meant to be mainstream, at least not if it is to regain its quality edge.”

    I think it depends on what Quora’s founders see as their ultimate vision for the site. If quality is essential, then there may be a need to better “monitor” the site for quality questions and contributors. But I assume that leads to an uncomfortable position of who dictates quality or not.

    Maybe that’s a question that needs to be posed on Quora? =)

  • An interesting take on quora. I don’t have any experience on focus so can’t speak intelligently about the pro and con.

    What i do find interesting is the wave of backlash that is gathering steam. When i first got introduce to quora back in the middle of last year i didn’t quite know what to make of it. But by november, i had the same feeling about quora that i had about twitter early on. It provided me with this incredible access to this incredible braintrust. With twitter it was the ability to follow marketers and learn about their projects and day to day. With quora it was an opportunity to gain an understanding of how they thought and approach problems (that’s valuable stuff)

    I’ve tried Linkedin answers (that quickly turned into a nightmare of people puffing out their chest) and Facebook’s Answers as well. Quora to me is ridiculously superior in quality.

    With increased numbers of folks i’ve seen a decrease in the quality of answers and increase in the amount of unanswered questions.

    Quora isn’t meant to be mainstream, at least not if it is to regain its quality edge. Perhaps then it’s for the best that those interested in the next shiny thing do deem it overhyped and move on so those of us who truly value it can continue to take advantage of the incredible insight it offers into some of the brightest minds in digital

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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