Unlike Facebook but very much like Facebook Groups, Quora the social Q&A ecosystem is designed to support individual participants, not companies (for now). In either case, it's increasingly becoming clear that this is a place where people talk about companies and brands. As Altimeter analyst Jeremiah Owyang recommends, this is a domain where a business should "monitor and respond". From Jeremiah's blog:
"Businesses Accounts Not Allowed…Yet. Now, If you’re involved in supporting your customers in the social web, either you’re a brand manager, or a community manager, your job is to go where customers are online and respond to them. While Quora doesn’t currently allow business profiles on the site (see how the Mashable account has been suspended) you should expect in the future that this would be a potential revenue stream for Quora to offer ‘buy outs’ for Q&A just as LinkedIn has done in the past. "
I suspect that there will increasingly be brand and company mentions on Quora like the one pictured above (disclaimer, eBay is an Edelman client). The reason is twofold:
1. Like any conversation ecosystem, people will mention companies that are relevent to their interests.
2. Much like the blogoshphere, Quora is shaping up to be a marketplace of opinions vs. a simple Q&A social network.
Recommendation: Monitor, Discern & Engage Where Applicable
Quora (and other ecosystems such as the blogoshphere & message boards) highlights a key distinction in running a social business. Unlike social marketing, where Facebook apps and bought media (promoted Tweets etc.) require little human intervention, Quora requires a more human touch. For organizations who wish to do more than listen, this means training, equipping and deploying (TED) corporate ambassadors. For many organizations, this will present a challenge as most corporate cultures are uncomfortable having their employees engage in public spaces unless they are official spokespeople. For the advanced social business who is already busy implementing the TED model, ecosystems such as Quora are merely another destination where envoys for the organizations are to be dispatched.
Whether it's observing engaging or both, the opportunities for your organization include the following:
• Business Intelligence
• Reputation management
On the engagement front, corporate ambassadors will be essential whether it's behind the current individual profile structure or a future business account. Consider implementing a TED infrastructure if you think your organization is ready to engage directly.
I'll continue to dig into Quora from time to time. If you are interested in following me there, go here.