There are a few websites and apps gaining in popularity right now that are focused on community-based, user-generated questions and answers. The top three biggest players in this field right now are Quora, Cinch, and Jelly. Let’s take a look at each one and see how they stack up against each other. We’ll also give you helpful hints on how you can use these tools in your role as a marketing professional or business owner.
Quora is by far the most developed of the three platforms and has been around the longest, since June 2009. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Questions are grouped by topic, and users can work together to edit questions as well as suggest edits to other users’ answers. You can also “vote up” questions that you want to see answers to.
Quora is available as a website, however they have also developed an iPhone and Android app as well. The cherry on top came last year when they rolled out a blogging platform. The last main updates that Quora released in 2013 is the ability to search the full text of questions and answers, and finally, the ability for writers to see how many people have viewed their questions and answers.
There are already many well-known people that are actively engaging in the Quora community, such as Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher. This boosts the credibility of the website as a whole. If you’re new to the question and answer websites, this is a great place to start.
If you head on over to the Jelly homepage, they have a very well put together video you can watch that features the CEO and co-founder of Jelly, Biz Stone (Yes, that Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.) He tells you the main idea behind the platform and how it all came about. Essentially he explains that they wanted to build a search engine that is built for today’s technology landscape. Their concept is “everyone is mobile, everyone is connected, so if you have a question, there is somebody out there who knows the answer.”
Jelly is an app that uses photos and people from your social networks to get you answers to your questions. It uses both your network and your extended network to give you access to a whole bunch of people who may be able to answer your question.
It was founded in April 2013 and naturally is not as developed as Quora. However, the image and social network aspects of the platform are what sets Jelly apart from Quora. Quora is much more text-and-topic based whereas Jelly is image-and-relationship based.
Like Jelly, Cinch is a relatively new platform and is only available as a smartphone application at this time (available for iPhone only). Made by the folks at Klout, cinch is “people directly helping other people by sharing their wisdom and knowledge and influencing them to make better decisions.” It is also geared towards the home advice industry specifically, so most users are interested in topics like gardening, cooking, furniture, and so on.
It was launched in September 2013, making this the newest app of all three platforms. It is not currently available outside of the US and there is no dedicated website for the platform. The developers are currently working on creating an Android app with the hopes of releasing it in the near future.
The app has received a bit of feedback from initial users saying it’s a great concept but some of the features are not quite perfected yet. For example, as of December 2013, users are not able to edit or delete submitted questions. Additionally, some users complain that the questions they receive to answer are not relevant to them. These are kinks surely to be worked out in the future since this is a young app.
What makes this app different is you can sign up as an “expert” and the app will automatically send you questions it thinks you can answer. The marketing potential of this app will grow as the number of users also grows.
How-To Use These Platforms For Marketing Your Business
These websites and apps are perfect to establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing authoritative answers on key topics. So for example if you sell a product like baby clothes, you can answer user questions on that topic and people will begin to respect you as an industry insider. The more answers you post, the more people will be able to read your opinions and expert advice.
Great for B2B and B2C Businesses
These platforms can be used as excellent tools in both the B2B and B2C industries. In fact, they offer quite a bit of marketing power for B2B industries, which is great news considering B2B marketing can be challenging in the eyes of many marketers and business owners. For example, Rand Fishkin is very engaged on Quora and answers all types of industry questions about SEO. If you’ve been in the online marketing biz for more than a minute, you know how well-respected Rand is on the topic of web optimization. Imagine the thrill if you asked a question and received a direct answers by Mr. Fishkin? Now imagine if you take the time to answer user questions across these platforms. You can become that type of expert in your own field, so that when people ask a question, they are thrilled to see that it’s been directly answered by you.
Track and Monitor
It’s best to try and get a pulse on your specific industry by setting up “listening” tools wherever possible. Quora lets you follow topics so you can stay up to date on whatever interests you. You can fine-tune your email preferences to only receive notifications about questions and answers you feel are important.
Finally, wherever possible, track your questions and answers to see how many people are viewing them, and actively think of new ways to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.