How to Use Quora to Build Your Brand (Part 1)

How can you be like Mark Zuckerburg and Ashton Kutcher? Use Quora to share your expertise. The Public Speaker explains how to use Quora to build your brand, to write better answers, and to make your answers stick through storytelling.

Lisa B. Marshall,
June 13, 2013
Episode #207

How to Use Quora to Build Your Brand (Part 1)

First, I should say, I’m a fan of Quora and I’m not being paid by them to write this episode. If you are not already familiar with Quora, it’s a question-and-answer website site which is edited and organized by the users. With Quora, you can build your brand by asking and answering questions effectively. The better your answers are, the more exposure you’ll get. It’s really that simple.

What is Quora?

Quora was founded in 2009, by former Facebook employees Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. D’Angelo, former CTO at Facebook, explained how he came up with the idea for Quora in an interview with Alyson Shontel for Business Insider in 2010.

“There’s a lot of information that has been in peoples’ heads and hasn’t gotten onto the Internet. Even as the Web has gotten really big, there’s just been this gap. So we made Quora as a general place for people to share knowledge of all kinds.” 

Quora distinguishes itself from competitors like Yahoo! Answers and ChaCha by the types of experts it attracts. From the beginning, business CEOs, Hollywood producers, and notable journalists have been answering questions from Quora users. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has both asked and answered questions on Quora. Actor Ashton Kutcher has built a reputation for himself on Quora as a tech-savvy, forward thinking contributor. He’s asked and answered questions on a wide variety of topics including tech, science, sports, and social issues.

How Do I Use Quora to Build my Brand?

But, you don’t have to be famous to be voted to the top on Quora. Quora users vote for the best answers to the questions posted. No matter who you are, if you provide thoughtful, intelligent, interesting answers, you can be promoted and seen by a bigger audience.

So how do you craft a strong answer that will get promoted? Recently, I came across a Quora response that made me want to buy a book. A book about something I usually have little interest in – politics.

Let’s see what made it so compelling.

The original question was “What is the single most illuminating question I can ask someone?” There were plenty of interesting answers: If all jobs paid the same, what would you be doing? When you die, what do you want to be remembered for? What is the first moment you remember in your life?

But the most popular answer came from New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. It was so popular that it was “upvoted” by 2,166 Quora users. As a comparison, the next highest answer had only 291 votes.

In Jodi Kantor’s response she starts by saying that no single question works for everyone. She recommends avoiding overly general and philosophical questions if you really want to get to know someone. She suggests that to ask the best questions, you need to do your homework. She then gives a specific example from her interviews with the First Family:

“The most illuminating questions are simple and specific. In the fall of 2009, I interviewed President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama about their marriage. My goal was to get them to avoid soundbites, to give honest, unrehearsed answers, and because I had been reporting on them for over two years at that point, I knew what to avoid and where to go. . . . So I summoned up my nerve and asked them, "How do you have an equal marriage when one person is president?" 

By the time I finished reading her full response, I wanted to hear more. She hooked me with this final sentence:

“Oh, and if you're interested in the Obamas' behind the scenes adjustment to the White House, my book has much more on the topic.”

What Makes a Good Answer?

Credibility: Jodi Kantor starts her answer with “I'm a reporter at the NY Times, I write about and often interview powerful people for a living, and I strongly believe the answer is . . .” With her credentials right up front, I knew the answer came from someone I should listen to.

Unique perspective: Instead of giving another predictable answer, she rejected the premise of the question altogether and offered a unique perspective. She briefly explained why the premise was wrong and went on to spend the majority of the time supporting her viewpoint.

Support with storytelling: To support her point, Jodi Kantor told two stories. The first was an insider story about two important people that everyone knows – President and Mrs. Obama. But she made the story relatable. She made the story about a couple and the interworkings of their marriage.

The second story was about choosing a babysitter for her daughter. Again, this is a situation that many readers would relate to in some way.

In our next episode, we’ll dig deeper into the elements of storytelling, and other methods you can use to make your Quora answers compelling, insightful, and relatable. Building your brand with Quora isn’t about paying for clicks or driving traffic to your blog, it’s about sharing your expertise on a variety of topics and making people actively want to know more about you.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker.  Helping you lead, influence, and inspire through better communication. Do you wish you got an email from me letting you know the new podcast is available? Join my newsletter to get weekly updates and get a free bonus.

Do you struggle with difficult conversations? Do you procrastinate when it comes to delivering feedback?  Do you know how to effectively persuade and influence others?  Learn this and more in my book Smart Talk.

Radio personality, Maureen Anderson called it “The owner’s manual for your mouth!”  Visit www.smarttalksuccess.com to get your personally signed copy. 

Question Image 1 and Question Image 2 from Shutterstock. Quora image from Quora Press Kit.

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