November 28, 2012
Many Internet marketers promote their products or services by taking part in forums and blog discussions. There is a category of websites, however, that are neither forums nor blogs. I’m talking about Q&A (questions and answers) sites.
Well-established Q&A sites that could be used to win the hearts and minds of potential clients are:
What I truly love about Q&A sites is they encourage community members to stick to the question-answer mode, which makes discussions to-the-point and, hence, more valuable. As stated in Yahoo! Answers Community Guidelines: “Yahoo! Answers is a community of questions and answers, not a chat room. If a post is neither a question nor an answer, it doesn’t belong here.”
Advice provided at Q&A sites is usually more substantial and better trusted than the advice one finds on, say, industry forums. This makes Q&A sites a great place to showcase your expertise and to inconspicuously drive traffic (and perhaps backlinks) to your website.
Take the time to get to know the community Each Q&A community has its own guidelines, its own system of earning points and its own unspoken rules. For example, if a magna-esque avatar might be acceptable at Yahoo! Answers, it will definitely look spammy at Quora.
So, before you begin asking or answering questions at Q&A websites such as Askville, Quora, LinkedIn Answers, and StackExchange, find out what earns you points there and what could have an adverse effect on your account’s reputation.
Actually, it is better to focus on fewer communities and to really find your bearings there than to be posting to lots and lots of Q&A sites without realizing their specifics – that would be of little use.
Flaunt Your Expertise at Yahoo! Answers
Yahoo! Answers is the beehive of a community buzzing with tons of discussions every day. The one thing to learn before your join it is its scoring system and how the asking-answering procedure works.
Yahoo! Answers lets the asker pick the Best Answer for his/her question, and even encourages one to do so by granting the asker three points for choosing the best answer. When you pick the best answer to a question you asked, the question is resolved, and other members can no longer answer it. If a ‘best answer’ has not been picked, the discussion is marked ‘undecided and is automatically closed after a few days. The ‘best answer’ can be picked by community voting as well.
Here are a few additional things I’ve noticed about Yahoo! Answers:
• Best answers receive much more visibility than regular ones. Hence, provide answers that have the potential to be chosen as the best. Also, spend some time studying the community to understand what makes the best answer in a niche.
• Avoid answering spammy questions and avoid asking such questions yourself. For instance, I just saw this question today: “SEO stands for ?????????” My, oh my, what are these all question marks? What’s this, anger? Despair?
• Don’t stuff your answer with links, unless it is really, REALLY appropriate. On Yahoo! Answers, links are supposed to provide reference to the source of data you share in the answer. So, make sure they don’t look like promo links.
• Provide factual, useful and in-depth advice whenever possible. If a question is not your area of expertise, it is better not to answer it. Instead, look for questions that will showcase your knowledge. For example, to look for discussions in my niche, I use our in-house social app which lets me monitor Yahoo! Answers (and a bunch of other social sites) for topics mentioning specific keywords. I then provide answers right from the software.
Leverage Askville by Amazon to Increase Traffic
I view Askville as a platform that’s meant to maximize sales on Amazon and increase the company’s revenue from sponsored links that are triggered by keywords in questions. However, it has a lot of space for unobtrusive recommendations and helpful answers as well.
What I like about it and what makes it different from other Q&A sites is that it lets you attach an image, a video and even your Amazon product ID to your answer.
Use LinkedIn Answers and Quora to Promote Your Biz
To me, LinkedIn Answers and Quora are somewhat similar – both sites are actually social networks and using a pen name or fake identity is not welcome there. Quora lets you sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account and automatically follows people from your contact list on Quora.
Promoting your brand or yourself at Quora and LinkedIn Answers is similar to Facebook/Twitter promotion. The only difference is communication occurs in the question-answer format. And, perhaps, you should be more cautious about what you say on LinkedIn, because LinkedIn is more about your personal brand. Anything you say is directly associated with you personally (and professionally).
Get Famous with StackExchange
StackExchange is a “network of 91 question and answer sites on diverse topics.” The resource first began as StackOverflow, a community of programmers helping one another with various issues. Later on, however, websites covering other topics were added to the list of sites administrated by the same community, which led to the emergence of StackExchange.
StackExchange is a well-moderated community where one finds answers for really challenging and deeply technical questions. So, if you’re an expert on something (especially programming or information technologies in general), this network is a great place to meet the right people and be noticed.
Whichever Q&A site you choose, posts should be error-free with proper grammar. If you want to sound like an expert, give those posts your best – in many ways it’s similar to public speaking.
Q&A websites can be a great platform to propel your brand – whether it’s a success or a failure depend on how you use them.
Alesya Krush is a blogger and a Web marketer at Link-Assistant.Com, home to the industry’s best SEO and SMM tools. The software developer’s most recent initiative was the release of the revolutionary BuzzBundle SMM tool that lets one grow smarter, louder buzz for their brand across numerous social networks, blogs, forums, Q&A sites and other Web 2.0 properties.