New Tricks: How can news organizations – and reporters – use Quora?

January 10th, 2011

There’s been a lot of buzz in the business and media press about Quora, a relatively new social media platform. This post will hopefully help you make some sense of it.

First off, what is Quora?

Quora’s a dynamic ecosystem of questions and answers. Think of it as a forum, a wiki and a Twitter stream combined. (It could also be used like Help A Reporter Out, if you’re familiar with that.) Here’s a quick video explainer:

Playing by Quora’s rules:

Right now, Quora’s TOS dictate that site users “must provide us accurate information, including your real name, when you create your account on Quora.” This means that brand pages are not allowed. (Sorry, Colonel Tribune, New York Times, Austin American-Statesman and others.)

The community is backing Quora up; it’s a tight-knit group of early adopters who seem to be compelled — and rightfully so — to keep Quora brand-free.

This is not to say, however, that news organizations can’t provide compelling, useful answers to questions pertaining to its coverage areas.

Once you’ve set up your Quora profile — under your real name, of course — here are a few things you can do:

  1. Monitor the topic pages for your subject areas. For instance, if I were a sports reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, I’d monitor Chicago, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cubs and some others.
  2. Interestingly enough, there was no Chicago White Sox topic, so I created one. Reporters should create topics that haven’t already been created for their coverage areas; this in turn will get them additional visibility on Quora, help distinguish them as  early adopters who will contribute to the site, and will also uncover local Quora users as they identify the topics they’re interested in.
  3. Build your network of sources and experts. Quora is still in its infancy; this means many “influential” sources are on there. Leverage those experts in your content as the need arises.
  4. Incorporate Quora questions and topics into blog posts and articles. The Quora audience may be vastly different from your online news audience. Leveraging the discussions there could generate additional buzz and digital “street cred” with your readers. (UPDATE 1/19: Here’s a post/video by Paul Gailey showing how to incorporate Quora into WordPress blogs.)
  5. If a news organization doesn’t have a clearly defined platform for reader questions (e.g. “what is the best Chinese restaurant in town,” “where can I find a public transportation schedule”)  use the Quora API to stream relevant questions on your news site.

Looking ahead:

In the long run, brands may not be allowed on there, but reporters absolutely should be.  But should brands be there?

My short answer: an enthusiastic yes — all news organizations (and brands) should be allowed on Quora, provided they play by the rules and are good Quora-zens. (Quora citizen, for short.)  Take some time to learn about the community before you really dive in. (A hat tip to Lucretia Pruitt for writing this quick guide on Quora.)

How do you think reporters can use Quora? Are you already using the service? If so, what have you done with it so far? Please leave your thoughts as comments below, and we may add your points to the above list. (Crediting you, of course!)

- Daniel B. Honigman

UPDATE (1/11): I’ve set up a Quora question on the topic here. Please feel free to jump in there as well!

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Entry Filed under: future of media

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  • Ryan Osborn

    Good post. Thanks.

    I would like to see brands be allowed.

    Still unclear how they are enforcing policy as I've seen accounts by Washington Post, Huffington Post and others.

    Thanks again.

  • Daniel_Honigman

    Right now, it appears as though a lot of the policing is being done by early members who want to keep the site brand-free. (Meaning, if they see a brand profile, they report it.)

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  • craignewman

    Daniel, don't know if you saw this, but 6 ways journalists can use Quora is an interesting post from Poynter:…/

  • Daniel_Honigman

    I did see that; commented on it a couple of days ago as well!

  • Paul Gailey

    Daniel, thanks for the link!

    I think identification of thought leaders is a great way for journalists to use Quora. I suspect they can at least then continue the relationship with those people by listing them in Twitter and engaging with them there.


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