The second part in my instructional series on using Quora for lead generation. If you missed the first part, click here.
Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty – Answering Questions
Quora can be a tricky beast in that there is really no wrong or right way to use it. Or at least that’s what I thought when first started out, because that seemed to be the case. There are very few rules, and as I mentioned, you will find questions ranging from silly to serious to everything in between. When you first log on to the website, it’ll look a little something like this:
The questions you will see in your main feed when you first login for the day will be relevant to either the interests you follow or previous questions that you’ve looked at or the most popular questions on the site at the time.
Answering questions from this first page more often than not will result in your answer being buried, but every now and then you’ll strike gold and answering a popular question will get you a ton of views. But that is kind of rare, at least in the beginning. Once you gain traction, and a good reputation it can be a different story.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. As a newbie if you only want to see questions under a specific topic, you can click the options that you pre-selected during sign up on the sidebar. This will give you a selection of questions that range from very new to very popular. Answering questions here gives you a better chance of gaining followers, upvotes, and views. And as you answer questions, related questions will pop up in the sidebar alongside the current one, making finding more relevant ones even easier.
You can also use the search function – of course – to find questions you think you can give a good answer to.
When searching for questions, make sure that they are questions that have views and followers, as this means people are interested in it and therefore you are more likely to ‘get seen’. And pay attention to the posting date. While there are some evergreen questions, questions that have tons of views and followers that can be useful to answer even if they are quite old, for the most part you should be looking for questions that are as fresh as possible.
What Kind of Questions Should You Answer?
There is actually a very simple answer to this question; answer questions about things you know. And those questions should not just be related to your business niche specifically. Your mission is to build yourself a rounded reputation. So draw on all of your life knowledge and experiences to do that.
When I was active on Quora in addition to answering questions about SEO, lead generation and entrepreneurism I tackled queries about other things I could share wisdom on; dating, relationships, fitness, even my tattoos (I have a lot) It made ‘Deepak Shukla’s’ profile one that was worth watching in the minds of many; several thousand of them in fact.
The one thing I DID NOT DO, and you should not do either, is try to BS an answer to a question I really knew nothing about just because it’s hot, or has a lot of views. Doing so is pointless. It will take too long for you to come up with a poor answer that will never get seen and, if viewed in your answer feed will probably damage rather than enhance your overall Quora rep. So stick to what you know. Always.
Giving Your Answers That Extra “Oomph”
So you have written a great answer to a question on Quora. In fact, it’s the most well thought out answer on the entire question by far, yet it’s not the most upvoted answer. What gives?
It might be a bummer to see, but there are a few very effective things that you can do to help your answer gain the momentum that it deserves.
Add an image to your answer. If you can back up your answer with a chart or a graph or even just a hysterical meme, you’re going to do a better job capturing attention. Want to save time? Quora has an image search built right into the answer editor, so make use of it. Doing so will also ensure that the image is licensed for use, as you can get a Quora penalty if you make use of unauthorized images that you yanked randomly from a basic Google Image search.
Use sources. Quora’s linking allows you to add links as footnotes so you can easily source your information in an organized way. There are a lot of people on Quora who go all out writing what could pass as novels for their answers, but without sources, their answers won’t look as legit as yours.
Piggybacking off that last point, if your answer is long and well-sourced you’ll definitely be a contender for the highest slot on the answers page. It does not have to be a novella, but long enough that it really adds value to the discussion.
Use Lists: People LOVE lists. They love lists in blog posts and they love lists on Quora. If you can add a list to your answer, do it. But only if it genuinely adds value, not just because it’s a ‘good’ thing to do.
Offer Answers in the Form of FAQs: Some subjects and niches naturally lend themselves to FAQs and you may come across these often, and find that they are very popular. Even if they already have lots of contributions add your own anyway, as doing so gives you the chance to add your expertise to an already popular and active conversation.
Use Formatting – When you answer a question on Quora you do so via a WYSIWYG interface that is very similar to the one you are probably used to using elsewhere. This means you can use bolding, italics, underlines, headings and more. Make use of those functions, as they will help your answers stand out right away over answers that don’t.
Become a thought leader in specific subjects. If people are consistently seeing you post valuable answers on a topic they follow, they’re going to be more likely to start engaging with you and following. I did it in several niches, the ones I mentioned before. And remember I told you to create a different bio/tag line for each niche you write in? Take those extra few seconds to edit your credentials on every answer to make sure the bio matches the topic you are currently answering in.
Don’t fake it. Eventually, I became known on Quora, for example, as a go-to source for relationship and dating advice. But am I a trained expert in the matter? No, I’m just a bloke who, by the time he hit his late twenties, (which was when my Quora star rose) had been through more than his fair share of relationship highs and lows and yet often my answers outranked those offered by real, trained relationship counselors.
Why? Because they were real and engaging. I addressed people as if I were talking to friends, mates, instead of lecturing them or being fake. Basically, I was me. It worked for me and you can do the same.
Think you don’t know enough about anything other than your business to successfully tackle a subject regularly on Quora? You’re wrong. Are you a really good cook? Great, there are a ton of people looking for your help. Big sports fan (any sport)? Lots of questions for you too. There are questions for everyone. You just have to look for them.
Once you’ve identified the niches you want to become a thought leader in, you’re going to need to devote some serious time answering questions and engaging with others. There is no escaping that, you are going to have to work on this, it can’t be automated. So if that’s not something you can commit to, don’t even bother getting started, because Quora just isn’t going to work for you.
Time saving tricks: Copy and paste all of your answers into a Google Doc, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of versions of the same questions. You don’t want to copy and paste them directly, but consider Frankenstein-ing a few of your old answers together. It gets the job done and is just as thorough, but it’s going to save you a lot of time.
Another way to save time? Batch answer. Devote a couple of hours every few days to answering a bunch of questions, put them into a Google Doc and post them in intervals. Doing this will cover you on those days when you are just too busy to devote a lot of time to Quora but know you should post something to maintain consistency.
Keep in mind, however, that each and every question you answer might be the first someone ever sees of you, so you should put a good amount of thought and effort into everything you answer in your target niches.
Becoming a Thought Leader
Once people see you as a thought leader, something really cool will start to happen. You’ll get notifications that people are asking you to answer specific questions.
When you’ve been requested to answer a question, you’ll be able to check a box that says “Answer Requested Attribution” that basically says to the world , “Hey, people think of me as an authority and single me out to answer their questions.” This is great social proof that is going to go a long way in helping others see you as an authority.
Additionally, you’ll begin to see who the current authorities are in the niches you’re frequenting. Chances are, their profiles will have 100x the followers yours does and they are getting an unfathomable amount of upvotes.
Don’t let that discourage you. In fact they may be able to help you.
Try following those people and – without copying them – answering some of the same questions that they do, but in your own unique manner. Don’t make this your only question sourcing tactic, but as an additional source of suitable questions, this can be a very effective tactic.
We all have to start somewhere, and the people who grow like crazy are the ones who are consistently providing value. Provide value and you will grow. When it comes down to it, it’s that simple. Sort of. There are wrong ways to answer questions. And that’s what we’ll talk about in a little while.
After you’ve answered a few questions that are getting lots of views and upvotes, sometimes you’ll find something really incredible happens. Quora features one of your answers in their newsletters. Your answer is sent to thousands and thousands of people. Lots of whom may never have heard of you before.
The spike in traffic you’ll see is amazing. But this is about more than just ego. These new folks will look at your bio. They’ll see that link you are REALLY trying to promote. And some of them will be looking for what you offer, even if the answer they discovered you from has NOTHING to do with what you do professionally.
Growing Your Account
The more followers you have, the more people are going to see your new answers, and the more impactful your time on Quora will be. But there are even more things you can do to grow your account – and capture even more great leads. Here are some of the most effective:
Connect to Facebook. Once a week random people I went to university with or are friends with my dad would follow me on Quora, because I was occasionally cross-posting on my Facebook page. They were not necessarily in my target audience, but because there is that personal connection they were more likely to upvote my answers when they saw them. And when they shared a really good answer on their Facebook feed I reached an entirely new audience, one that may have never even heard of Quora before (I probably drove a ton of new traffic to Quora actually. You’re welcome Quora)
Engage with other people – Follow people you’re interested in, upvote their answers, and leave comments. Quora is unlike most other social media sites, but the one thing that remains the same is that you should be social. But maintain that polite demeanor. You may attract haters. I used to sometimes. Never take their bait.
Be active in general. It’s easy to just want to answer a few questions once a week because you are really busy in general. But you’ll see very slow Quora growth that way, if you see any at all. You have to be consistent. Don’t answer too many questions, that will look like spam (even if they are great answers) but if possible aim for 3-6 a day.
Alright, so you get the gist of using Quora and growing in your specific niche…so how does that translate into you getting leads and making money.
Promoting Your Goods the Right Way
So, Quora lets you link out to resources. We’ve established that already. And, as you are there to market your business, you’ll want to link out to content related to that. And it’s okay, the platform will allow you to do that. Sparingly. And that folks, is where I went wrong, and ended up falling foul of the Quora powers that be.
You see, I had all these great answers. All these followers. All these A2A requests. At the high point of my Quora career I had 19 million views. I was a Quoran to watch and I became buddies with lots of other top Quorans as well.
Up to that point, I had linked out to my business pages sparingly, done the right thing. But, I did notice that other people were linking out more often, or so I thought. So, being a bit greedy, I decided to reverse engineer my Quora presence. I dropped links into a whole bunch of old, top rated answers. As in a quite a lot of them. And not too long after that? The hammer came down and Deepak Shukla, Quora superstar was no more.
One of the biggest questions I get asked these days about Quora is what have you learned since? And the answer is a lot. I can’t post on Quora anymore, but my friends and my clients can. And in helping them I can offer you these takeaways:
- Don’t answer more than six questions a day.
- Link out to your business interest(s) every 8-10 questions. NO MORE THAN THAT.
- Don’t get too sales-y in any of your answers. Keep them useful and make sure they add value whether they link out to something else or not. I see people get lazy. They write something like ’great question, I wrote a blog on this, it’s here’, link out to the blog and add nothing else. That won’t work. Your answer itself needs to provide value. Repurposing that content is fine – not a copy paste job, but a bit of a rewrite – but don’t just lob in links.
Monitoring Your Progress
Quora doesn’t have the most robust analytics, but they’re there. I actually recommend using outside tracking to see the real impact of your Quora efforts, whether that’s adding an src variable to your URL or throwing your link into bit.ly and using their metrics to see your click through rates, but there is still some good hidden in Quora’s analytics.
If you head into your stats section you’re able to see a nifty line graph displaying how many views all of your answers got on any given day, and if you want to dive deeper you can click on specific questions and see how they performed on any given day.
On the majority of my answers, I saw a spike the day I posted, a big drop-off, and then a gradual increase in views, and on old enough questions: a flat line. I originally would have expected a spike and a general decline, but that’s not always the case.
For example, a few weeks after I answered some questions they wound up on the first page of Google where they hung around for a while. But don’t expect instant SERP results. Quora does incredibly well on Google, but the Google powers at be tend to take a bit of time to rank the newer questions. So at the time of answering a question, it might be on the fifteenth page of Google, but a month later it’s on the second and all of a sudden seeing a lot more traffic. And giving a lot more visibility to you.
Now, that’s not to say that this will happen with all Quora answers – a lot of them never make it anywhere near the front page of Google and you’ll see very little traffic to those answers. But you can use the Quora analytics to figure out what type of answers are doing the best and resolve to answer more that are similar.
Using Quora to Enhance Your Own Content
Just because I am no longer on Quora does not mean that I don’t still make great use of it to promote my own websites and interests. I STILL use it for lead generation purposes all the time. How? Allow me to explain:
One of the biggest benefits of Quora is that it tells you what your target market is looking for.
Often, we as marketers have a really hard time with consumer research. It can be hard to really uncover the desires, wants, needs, concerns, pains, and knowledge-lacking areas of your ideal client or customer. You can research in the ‘traditional’ manner for weeks and still come up kind of short. But, with Quora, the magic is that you can discover those things instantly.
All you have to do is type your target industry or topic into the search bar. Then click on the result you want with the word “Topic:” next to it. A screen like this will show up.
Now here’s the cool part. You can take all of those questions – or the good ones at least and repurpose them into titles on your own website’s blog. Since these are the questions that people are asking regarding your industry or specialty, you’ll attract a lot of people by answering them. Even if you are not answering them on Quora. Simply take a question, turn it into a great title and create a piece of engaging content around it.
And don’t just stop at blog posts and written content. Video is a huge draw, especially when people are looking for answers to questions. That’s the reason that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. When people want answers, they head there. You know that, you’ve probably done it, even if the only thing you were looking for was how to change a fuse.
So take those Quora questions and get your answer down on video. You don’t have to be fancy. Many of my most popular videos were shot in the coffee shop down the street from my house, or simply while I was out walking. I use my phone. People are not looking for Hollywood level production when they search YouTube looking for answers, they are just looking for the information they need right now. So give it to them.
Share Your Most Popular Answers
As I have said throughout this post as you engage more and more on Quora, some of your answers will perform better than others. And, once in a while, maybe even more than that, one of your answers will turn into a little goldmine. Tons of users, including new ones, will view, share and upvote your answer. It’ll end up on the first page that many users see when they log in for the day. It will go out as a featured answer in the Quora newsletter.
But remember, as great as it is, Quora still only has 300 million users worldwide. Facebook has 2 billion. Twitter has far fewer – around 329 million – but it is a hot platform right now because a certain world leader uses it so often. People look for answers on Linkedin too. I’ve even seen some Quorans turn answers into graphics for Pinterest and have extra success there.
So basically the last thing you want to do is let that great Quora answer you wrote go to waste, because it has so much more potential if you share it. While your Quora followers will pay plenty of attention to the answer, you can gain even more attention by sharing the answer on all your social media channels.
These days, Quora sells ads. People often ask me what I think about that. Honest answer? I don’t know because I have never used them. I have heard some peers say they have had great results. But I have no idea if they would have worked for me.
My business was built on the back of hard work and strategic thinking. Back in those Quora days I was just starting out, so I didn’t have the cash to spend on such things, nor would I have wanted to. Or, in the end, needed to. And let’s be honest, you probably don’t have the spare cash either, so that’s a discussion for another time.
You don’t want – or need – to make it any harder than it has to be.
And you certainly don’t want to ignore new ways to hack lead generation and increase both business revenue and your public profile in general.
Well, as I hope I’ve been able to show you here, Quora might just be your next best strategy to grow your business’s bottom line.
With it, you can generate the leads that your business requires to survive and thrive.
To leverage all of its potential, though, you need to understand how to use it.
So let’s condense everything I’ve said here down into the real basics of Quora success.
- Start by creating a compelling Quora profile and following relevant topics, topics you genuinely know things about and can add meaningful input into the Quora conversations about them.
- Then, answer those questions while demonstrating your expertise and being genuinely helpful. Link back to your own stuff, but do so carefully and sparingly.
- Finally, track your analytics, leverage trackback links, create similar content on your website, and share your most popular Quora answers on social media.
Do all of that, and few competitors will be able to keep up with your lead-generating Quora activity. You’ll quickly learn all about your ideal client or customer, and they’ll quickly learn about you. That’s a win-win situation for everyone (but especially you)