How You Can Use Question and Answer Sites to Build Online Influence

Each and every day, businesses are looking for new and creative ways to bring more leads and more fan engagement to their site using word of mouth social media marketing. One method that this is often times over-looked is the creation of conversation using question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers. Answer sites provide a place for people from all walks of life to post questions about whatever happens to be on their mind. These questions can range from life advice, to business questions, or even something more basic like cooking and how-to topics. These questions are then available for anyone and everyone to answer. Open forums like this are ultimately designed to connect the right question with the right expert. At first glance, question and answer sites like this may not look like much, but they can actually be a goldmine for businesses that are looking to establish themselves as an expert online. Here are four really important reasons why you should consider using sites like Yahoo Answers to engage online conversation.

1. You get to be helpful

The creation of quality online content is still one of the most sure-fire ways to develop online traffic for yourself and your business. People will always be attracted to content that is helpful. I think that this is what really makes question and answer sites so perfect for online engagement. Simply put, they provide a connection point for people that need help and those that can provide it. If you already have an online strategy focused on creating helpful content, then answer sites could provide a great way to extend your reach.

2. Build an audience

When you reach out and help someone that is in need of your expertise, you create an immediate relationship with them based on trust. It is very likely that this relationship could easily turn into a blog or email list subscriber if leveraged right. You also have to remember that because of the power of search, other people with the same question may eventually find their way to your answer, and then hopefully your website.

3. SEO power

Every single time you leave an answer, you should also leave behind a link to your blog or a specific landing page on your site. This can provide great content for search engines link Google. When answering questions, I often refer people to my own Facebook marketing course when I feel that it is something they would find helpful. The key here is to choose your links wisely. Remember, your goal is to be helpful, not to stuff the site with links.

4. Get blog topics

One of the most unexpected benefits that I have experienced with answers sites, has been the collection of ideas that I have collected for blog posts. With these sites, you are right on the front lines and can really see what it is that people are wondering about, and needing help with. If you are in the business of creating helpful, value based content, than this can be a very powerful resource for endless ideas.

Question and Answer Sites

Along with Yahoo Answers, here are a few other question and answer sites that you should consider using.

Twitter

Did you know that Twitter’s own search page allows you to limit your search to questions? Some topics are very crowded with spam, but overall this is a very simple way to find some great questions that you can answer.

Answers at business.com

The answers section at business.com is great for very focused questions around business and marketing. While it is still small, the quality of questions asked remains high. If you are able to answer questions about business and marketing, then this site could be very valuable to you.

Mahalo Answers

This could be the least business focused of the sites on this list, but can still be a great place to find questions. Mahalo focuses heavily on ‘how to’ topics and connection people the right web content for their subjects.

Quora

This is a new comer to the list, and is already known for it’s explosive growth and it’s high caliber of questions. For online businesses and technology companies, this is an essential site for participation.

Get started

Like any good online strategy, using answer sites takes an investment of time and talent to accomplish. While it won’t give you an immediate rush of people banging down your door, it will give you a solid connecting point with a key audience in your market. There is a lot of long term success that can come if these sites are used properly. I personally have seen the benefits of this strategy for both myself, and for many of my clients. In fact, we have found them so successful, that we worked them into our flagship social media marketing software Todaypulse. So, how about you? Have you tried using question and answer sites for your business? How did it work?

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About Garrett Moon: Garrett is the lead blogger and designer at Todaymade, a web design and social marketing company. He is also the author of the Facebook Marketing for Business email course and the co-creator of Todaypulse, a social media marketing inbox for social pros and business owners. Follow Garrett on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Sweet Garrett! This past month I’ve been answering my readers questions that they send in. I love the idea of going to the sites you mentioned and getting in on the action while possibly providing useful information to help someone out. It sounds like a goldmine for creating articles around topics of interest, too, for my own blog.

    Thanks for such great ideas!!!!

    • That is great Melody! I hope it works. I recently started a LinkedIn group and have been offering it to people that I answer questions for. I am hoping it can be a way to continue the conversation. I would love you hear how it works for you!

  2. I help people everyday on Yahoo answers..I get lots of clients and build my reputation. Its just great to see yourself grow online..I use Google reader to get instant updates on incoming questions about seo..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. Hi Garrett! :)

    What a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing these tips, I’m definitely going to give this Q&A thing a go! Sounds like a great tool for building expertise. :)

  4. Hi Garrett,

    Helpful post. I’ve been doing Q&A on Linkedin recently and have met interesting contacts. I haven’t done much with Quora, but it looks like a great place to meet tech people.

    I try to give thoughtful answers. It takes a little more time, but people seem to appreciate it. I’m not sure why a person would bother to post an answer that doesn’t add to the discussion. That answer becomes part of your online presence and can either enhance or detract.

    My next goal is to be more intentional about linking to specific content on my sites, so Q&A becomes part of my prospecting process. Got any wisdom on that?

    Jack

    • Hey Jack,

      Definitely – thoughtful answers are huge. Especially with Yahoo Answers, where there is a lot of not-so-great content. Taking the few extra minutes really pays off.

      As far as prospecting, I think the key is just finding the right questions. For example, if you have an ebook or a blog post on a specific topic, do searches for questions in those areas. Leaving a link is great, especially if it is related content. I leave links for our Facebook training all of the time. Since that is an area where I have valuable content, I target Facebook questions.

      We have made Q/A a big part of what we do, so we actually have several standing searches related to our expertise using Todaypulse (http://todaypulse.com/tour/)answer that we go in and check regularly.

      I would just identify topics where you are well versed and have related content to recommend. Like a lot of things in marketing, focus can go a long way.

      Thanks for reading, and the comment!

  5. Thank you for the inspiring idea! I just checked yahoo answers in my field of expertise and found lots of questions that I can totally respond to and have fun answering!

  6. Hi Garret,

    I have been thinking to build some sort of Question and answers site, stackoverflow inspired me alot, but I guess I really don’t have time for it, since I have another focus.

    The idea came because I am promoting one plugin to build that site.

    Regarding those answer and questions sites, we really need to moderate alot since those sites are great for spammers LOL

    Thanks.

  7. This may sound stupid but can this work with a pet sitting business? Looking for ways I can grow but not sure how this would for my business.
    Thanks

    • Hi Denise,

      Well, with a local business like pet sitting it would be difficult to find questions for people in your local area. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth while. If you are using a blog or social media to market your business Q/A sites may give you some great insights into questions that your customers might have. This will help you generate content that fits them.

      Also, Twitter allows you to search your local area, which might be your best bet. Search your local area for people talking about their pets. Follow them, and strike up a conversation.

      Also, if you have a passion for pets, there may be an opportunity to adapt that passion to everyone online. For example, if you run a successful pet sitting business, could you teach people how to run their own online?

      There is a lot you can do, it just depends on your business goals.

  8. Jamey Favorite says:

    Good article and thank you for the code. Does it still work with WordPress 3.3?