How to Use Quora as a Marketing Tool

Photo cred: Mixy Lorenz

I’m a QO expert.  Not sure what that means?  What a noob.  It stands for Quora Optimization. Get with the times slacker.

Seriously though, I’ve been using Quora for just about a year now.  It has only been getting more and more valuable since I signed up with more content constantly flowing in. This tool is applicable for enterprise, agencies and small businesses.

I’ve thought about writing this post for a while. Seeing as how it seems everyone and their mother has signed up for Quora in the past few days, I guess this is a good time.

Here’s how you can use Quora for marketing:

1. Establishing Yourself as an Expert

The obvious method is the same one that we’ve been doing with Linkedin Answers, and the same one that you can do on the new Facebook questions.  Establish yourself as an expert in the field, and drive leads, by answering questions efficiently.

Step 1: Sign up and set up your “bio” for each topic.

This is one thing that is pretty awesome about quora.  You can set different bios for each topic that you follow.

So when I answer a question in the blogging category I can include a link to Scribnia in the bio.  For blogger outreach I’ll include BlogDash. For questions related to young professionals, I’ll include u30pro.

Step 2: Search for questions in your market.

I searched for Blogger Outreach, and found a few good questions.  Quora is a bit more “tech” focused so far, but seems to be expanding into other categories pretty quickly.

If a question doesn’t exist, you can always ask it anonymously.

Step 3: Answer the question.

Here’s the hard part.  Mostly because you have to actually know what you’re talking about.

Answer thoroughly.  A half-assed answer will never bubble to the top.

I answered a Quora question about blogger outreach.

Step 4: Share your answer.

You’re given the option to share your answer on social networks.  This is important, because you need people to vote up your answer in order for it to rise to the top.

Or you could count on your awesome answer to rise to the top organically…but who cares for that nonsense? <–sarcasm

2. Lead Generation

On Quora, you can also see how many people have viewed the question.  More importantly, it shows you who, specifically, is following the question.  I don’t know about you, but that smells like potential leads to me.

Reach out to them personally and see if they have any questions you can help with.  If they’re following a question, it’s because they’re interested in the answer.

3. Market Research

Another use worth pointing out is the market research value.  Try to find information on your competitors on the web, and you’ll probably end up doing a lot of guessing.

Ask a question (you can ask anonymously) on Quora, and you’ll be surprised what kind of ex-employees and other knowledgeable folks come out of the woodwork.

4. Search Engine Optimization – Link Building

I’m hesitant to add this one because I can see this being where “marketers” who suck at their job start spamming the site and ruining it for everyone. Marketing doesn’t ruin things…bad marketing does.

In the spirit of being thorough however, SEO is something that’s important and so it should be included.  Whenever someone links to your site or blog from a quora answer or comment, it does send a trackback.  It’s a little unusual for sites like this, who would usually use no-follow links to reduce spam.

My best advice… use Quora honestly and let the links build organically.

5. Content Marketing Inspiration

Not sure what to write about on your corporate blog?  Struggling to squeeze out a few more pages in that e-book?  Turn to Quora to find content to write about.

It’s really perfect.  You want to write content that answers the questions of your potential customers.  Now you have a database of questions from people in your target market that you can answer in your own content.

To continue with the value of Search Engine Optimization…you’ll see a few trackbacks to this post from people who linked to it on Quora.  That’s because someone on Quora asked about using the tool for marketing, and people who answered it linked to this post a couple times. Furthermore, you can use foam core’s printed advertisements as a marketing tool instead. It can be placed in windows, walls, or any public places.

I didn’t plan that.  It did teach me something though.  Writing blog posts that answer specific questions on Quora may result in links back to your post if it’s good enough.

Have you used Quora?  Has it been useful for you?

You can find me on quora here.

Don’t Judge People By Their Generation

Photo cred: Ian Atwater

I read this the other day: “[Millennials] are relatively laid back—until they feel they have been wronged… and then may quickly apply pressure to make big changes fast. They expect transparency and accountability, just as it is expected of them in the marketplace.”

I read generalizations of Millennials like this one pretty much every day.  Millennials are lazy…inspired…entitled…tech savvy…etc etc…

I have yet to read a description of the Millennial generation that was based on any sort of reliable statistics.  EVERY one of these generalizations are based on a limited point of view based on biased research or on personal experience and fail to take into account a number of aspects, namely socioeconomic status.

When marketers talk about millenials with these unfounded generalizations, they’re contributing to a highly inaccurate conception of an entire generation.

Even wikipedia makes unfounded generalizations, and describes Millennials based on studies performed solely in colleges.

My high school featured a very diverse range of lifestyles and socioeconomic statuses. A majority of the Millennials that I grew up with, do not fall under any of the stereotypes that marketers constantly apply to them.  With that personal experience, I’ve seen first hand how inaccurate the typical millennial classification really is.  I won’t base my argument on personal experience though…

Here are some stats from 2008 pulled from the United States Department of Labor:

  • 68.6 percent of 2008 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities
  • 56.8 percent of the nation’s 16- to 24-year-olds, or 21.3 million young people, were either enrolled in high school (9.7 million) or in college (11.7 million).
  • “…about 6 in 10 recent high school graduates who were enrolled in college attended 4-year institutions.”

My class year (2005) had some similar stats, with 68.6% of high school grads enrolling in college. Many high school graduates go right into the labor force.

The false generalizations we hear about all the time are based on the Millennials that get their college degree or are in the process of doing so.  The fact is, by basing your characterization of Millennials on this segment of the larger population, you’re making highly inaccurate assumptions.

Generations are too vast and diverse to justifiably apply characteristics to the entire population.

Tell a millennial that works 50-60 hour work weeks doing construction with a cherry picker covered by One Sure Insurance in the winter that he’s entitled.  Or maybe tell the millennial facing jail time for selling drugs that they were “pampered” by their parents.  I know a people in both situations.  Do they represent the millennial generation? No, but they’re certainly a part of it, and shouldn’t be neglected when discussing the traits of our generation. Insurances can be very helpful in time of need, but if you are going to choose a company, then make sure they are using this insurance agents software to be sure that they are professionals.

Vehicle insurance is a very important part of anybody’s business, it is a great way to keep everybody covered so they don’t have to worry about it after getting into an accident. By getting a cheap motor trade insurance online quote, you can start searching for your insurance company that you can rely on.

Thanks to Lisa Grimm, Dave Folkens and Chuck Hemann for their help in refining this post.

The Balance Act

Balance

Photo cred: DirkJan Ranzijn

Here’s a thought I’ve been struggling with lately…

It’s not all about community, relationships and engagement.  To focus only on these things was naive and idealistic.  These things are vital in the long-run, but in terms of building a large userbase (a.k.a. making money).  In order to scale, these ideals sometimes have to take a backseat to impersonal, systemic approaches.

Now I don’t necessarily agree with that thought…hence me struggling with having it.  As if they were reading my mind, both Chris Brogan and Dave Fleet recently shared relevant thoughts on their blogs to get me thinking even more.  Then to top it off today, I enjoyed an extremely interesting presentation by Gabriel Weinberg (Scribnia’s Dreamit mentor). He shared his story of how he found success by doing nothing in terms of human engagement or community building, but rather by developing a deep and thorough understanding of the system.

I know different approaches work for different situations, but I’m quickly coming to the realization that these social media concepts do not scale, at least not at first. We get caught up on the “success stories” of companies that have done nothing in terms of marketing, and have grown solely from word of mouth.  While nice to think about, to plan the same for yourself is usually idealistic and unreasonable.

So much focus have been put on these tools lately, and I pretty much soaked it all in, not quite seeing the limitations…understanding, but not quite grasping the concept of breaking down silos, as Beth Harte would explain.

I’m learning that the only thing that really matters in the end is numbers…number of users, of customers, of traffic.  Regardless of how you get there, that’s the game.  These are harsh realizations but realizations nonetheless.

So I guess in the end, all you can hope for is a balance. I will never sacrifice my passion for community building and human engagement, but it’s looking like there’s a lot more to it.

I’m sure many of you already know this, so help me through this one…what are your thoughts?

Don't Ask, Just Share

Photo cred: Keith Allison

Photo cred: Keith Allison

If Kobe gets open for a shot, should he yell “Pass me the ball!”? No…he needs to make the ball handler aware of the opportunity so that he can decide what to do.  As lame as that sounded, same goes for reaching out to a blogger.

Chances are the blogger knows that you’re pitching them before they even open the email.  Bloggers are used to receiving pitches and the experienced ones know exactly what they expect in a good pitch.  Ultimately they know that you’re emailing them because you’d like them to write a post about your company or product. One thing bloggers definitely don’t like is being told what to blog about.

Depending on the situation, it might be good to come right out and just ask the blogger to write a post; but sometimes it’s best not to ask for anything at all.  If you’ve done your job correctly, you’re pitching this blogger because you already know that their readers would be interested in whatever it is you’re pitching.  If this is true, the blogger will want to write a post about it regardless of whether or not you ask them to.  Describe your product and explain how it might be valuable to their audience.  If they don’t want to write an entire post about it, they may be interested in sharing it within another post or sharing it elsewhere.  There are a number of opportunities.

If you describe your product and then end the email asking them to write a post about it, they may just decide it’s not worthy of a post and move on.  You’re only focusing on one option.  They’ll be much more receptive to an email that aims to do nothing more than share information about a valuable product, and that doesn’t push them to do anything.  Bloggers love to share and if it really is valuable, the request isn’t necessary…they WILL share. (Just like if Kobe is open, they WILL pass)

Do you agree?

Bookmark and Share To share specific article, click on the post title so that you’re only looking at individual post, then share.

Advice for PR and Marketing Grads

 

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This is a collaboratively reworked version of Lauren Fernandez‘s post “Let’s Be Frank: Some Advice for PR Graduates” that I thought was SO great, I needed to make it available to my readers with a few additional insights of my own. I also spoke with Lauren after her post to find answers to some additional questions I had which will also be included here. Here we go…

  1. Build experience and set goals. Participate in internships, take offices, join clubs and do community service.  Find jobs that you are interested in and work to become qualified.
  2. Be realistic. Many companies have become big by retaining their employees and job openings are limited, especially in today’s economy.  You shouldn’t always shoot for the big name companies.  You will find that smaller – medium sized companies are the ones looking for bright new entry-level people to join them as they grow.  At these small agencies, you can gain a lot of experience because you really get to see the ins and outs of an agency. You can also try our Loanload and apply for loans.
  3. Don’t rush to grad school. Focus on building some experience first.  PR students should always have some experience before going to grad school. Really, a masters in PR is geared toward if you want to go into teaching. However, you can always go for Emerging Media, Public Affairs, Communications, etc. In many situations, only YOU would know what’s the right approach when considering going to grad school. In general, I would recommend having at least 2 years of professional experience first.
  4. You are not too good for ANY offer. As long as an organization has a good reputation, there is no reason to not give it a shot. You might find it’s a great fit, and you will definitely learn from it – good or bad. Also, you might hear of a development coordinator job opening – this is geared toward fund-raising and developing the brand. This is great for a young PR pro because you can really fine-tune your pitching and customer service skills.
  5. Stay open to doing internships after you graduate. Not everyone coming out of school will get a job right off the bat.  If you are set on the big agency, be prepared to take a paid internship for a couple of months before being offered an entry type position. Don’t look at this as a disadvantage!  Since you have a degree, you will be given more responsibility and greater consideration for full-time opportunities. You will take away great experience, contacts and if you do your job well, a recommendation.
  6. Set up interviews around graduation time Sure, your finance and business major friend already landed a job back in December but guess what? This is PR and marketing. The job offers WILL come.  Those hiring, unless stated differently, usually want someone to start within a month of the interview process. This is a field that is constantly on the go and constantly changing. Financing can be very hard if you do not have any help, that’s why many people go to this agency in california to get hard money.
  7. Network until you graduate! The key is to establish a connection with professionals and stay involved until interview season. Three quick networking tips:
    1. Use social media to it’s fullest! Tools like linkedin, twitter, and professionals networks have made it easier than ever to meet professionals in your field. If you feel comfortable enough, have a lot to say and can say it well, start a blog!  Make sure to be respectful and professional in your online presence. Word gets around in these fields and you don’t want to tarnish your reputation.
    2. Go to networking events! There are always events going on in major cities.  They are a great way to make some real connections with experienced professionals who will only be impressed that you are networking before you graduate.
    3. If you’ve made a contact, communicate with them once a week – either by email, phone or even meeting for coffee. It’s the simple things that keep a relationship alive, and that drive to connect with PR pros is going to get you very far. Face-to-face communication is ALWAYS the best route to create meaningful relationships, especially for those that haven’t jumped into social media yet.
  8. You can focus your job search on social media. As many have argued, social media doesn’t exactly fall under marketing or PR but more of a mixture, and there isn’t an accepted method to approach social media. If you’re set on working in social media, consider an association/non-profit job. Contrary to popular belief, this is where a lot of job opportunities will be coming from. They all need in-house PR, and they also have a great need for the 20-something who is great at social media. In non-profits/association, you truly know the ins and outs of your client, because you ARE the client. In these settings, you also gain a ton of experience because you get to do a lot more, and are trusted a lot more, than in the agency atmosphere.

What did we leave out? What advice would you give to PR and marketing grads?