Quora in Your Earned Media EffortsQuora in Your Earned Media EffortsLast month, a question on Quora appeared: What was it like to help develop Paper?

Paper is the new app from Facebook that turns your newsfeed into a magazine.

It’s pretty, it’s enticing, and it’s a complete departure from what we’ve come to expect from Facebook.

So it makes sense people would want to hear from the developers – more than 30,000 people, to be exact.

Facebook says the thread on Quora was not orchestrated by them, but it should have been. And it’s something you should consider in your own corporate communications efforts.

Human Communications

Answering questions in a human way is not new.

Reddit has their AMA (ask me anything) feature, which has attracted the likes of President Obama, Bill Murray, and Bill Gates, who literally answer any question asked.

Everything from “what’s the recipe for the White House beer?” and “what’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make this term?” to what Bill Murray whispered in Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of “Lost in Translation” and “is the desktop computer dead?” to Gates.

These appearances have been orchestrated by a savvy media relations team and, while most of us don’t work with the likes of the two Bills and Obama, it’s an interesting way to think about our earned media efforts.

Quora in Your Earned Media Efforts

Which brings us back to Quora.

The social media darling of 2009, it came out with a bang and then settled into a Q&A site for the tech geeks and social media nerds.

A quick review of their home page has questions such as, “What happened to Steve Jobs’s office?” and “Why Do People Use Pinterest?” (because it rules!).

You can subscribe to specific industries, follow people like you can on the other social networks, and ask – and answer – questions related to your industry or client’s industry.

For instance, we have a client that is making some waves among its competitors.

For the purpose of this blog post, I asked a question on their behalf: ”Prepaid debit cards: Are they the answer to getting away from traditional banks?”

From there, I was able to ask the question specifically to people who have prepaid card expertise, either in their bios or in how they answer questions on the site.

And then I promoted it via my social networks to get even more people over to the site to answer the question.

Quora to Announce News

Think about what this does.

Quora creates an opportunity for informal market research, crowdsourcing, and good ol’ brand awareness.

And, because it’s relatively easy to get on there, ask a question, and assign some of your team and industry experts to answer, it doesn’t have to go through the same approval processes your other initiatives may have (though the answers from your team may need to).

There, of course, is some risk – just like there is with any social network – particularly if you have a rogue employee (or executive) or a crisis, but the pros outweigh the cons.

The magic happens as the narrative evolves and users connect with the people who work inside your four walls. They can ask questions they really want answered instead of the canned messages we’ve been taught to create as PR professionals.

The next time you go to write a news release, ask yourself, “Could we announce this news via a question on Quora instead?”

I’d venture to guess the answer is yes.