What’s Hot in Social Media: Quora

In a new year where “platform fatigue” has begun to creep into our vocabulary, new innovative ways to interact with one another re-energize us and keep us begging for more. One such social site that has received a considerable amount of attention recently is Quora.

Founded by former Facebook employees, Quora calls itself a “continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Think Twitter meets Yahoo! Answers meets LinkedIn, with a little Wikipedia on the side. Users can ask or answer questions, which are tagged, followed and sometimes even edited, or they can follow one another, recommend each other to answer specific questions or just sit back and learn something new.

One of Quora’s greatest strengths (and what sets it apart from other, somewhat similar question/answer sites) is the culture of professionalism, good intention and authenticity the site has been able to foster. Spamming, blatant self-promotion and other forms of abuse are heavily frowned upon. In fact, I had to take a short test on writing good questions in Quora before I could even post my first one! On the other hand, thoughtful, clear and concise answers are praised and “voted up.” It’s this high quality of both question and answer that has attracted the likes of top CEOs, journalists and other high-profile individuals.

Most of Quora’s earliest adopters were techies, but now the PR-ad-marketing crowd is making its move. If Quora can grow steadily while maintaining its current quality of content and users, it could easily become a very powerful tool for PR folks to connect with journalists and build mutually beneficial relationships. It could also provide a new kind of forum for experts and authorities to not only address the questions and concerns of their target audiences and/or customers, but also gain valuable insight from them.

Although it wasn’t made available to the public until June 2010, Quora has already attracted tens of thousands of users (some estimates place the user number as high as 500,000). I would watch this one closely. Better yet, join me in creating a profile and start building your status now.

As someone fairly new to the site, my best piece of advice when joining Quora is to watch and learn before you act. Like Twitter, there is an etiquette to master before making a good impression.

Are you on Quora? If so, what are your thoughts?