But here’s something you might not know: Quora is on its way to becoming a massive online advertising hub—one that could even someday put Facebook (or should we say FACEBOOK) to shame.
For anyone that hears “Quora” and still thinks it sounds more like a rare species of bird than a social media platform, here’s what Quora really is—and what digital marketers should take back to their think sessions when planning for the upcoming year.
What is Quora?
Quora.com is a publicly moderated question-and-answer platform founded in 2009. It’s a place where users can pose questions, submit answers, and engage with existing content in the form of upvotes, comments, and shares.
(Fun fact: the co-founders are two former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever.)
Currently, users have quite the selection of material to work with: the number of questions asked per day typically ranges from 3,000 to 5,000.
Those more familiar with the utter chaos that rages on in other popular question-and-answer platforms can rest assured that Quora is more r/AskReddit than Yahoo! Answers.
The queries submitted are generally well-written, ranging from specific, straightforward asks (“How can I make my mashed potatoes tastier?”) to open-ended questions (“What is the most horrible children's book ever written?”). To help users find what they’re looking for, questions are filed under larger categories: topics and spaces.
Quora Topics - A Newsfeed for Every Interest
When you first create a Quora account, you’ll be prompted to select your interests from an array of broad subjects like Movies, Cooking, Books, Television Shows, Photography, etc. These are called topics.
Each topic acts like a mini Facebook newsfeed or a loosely-regulated subreddit (in case you need to brush up on your Reddit best practices, check out our blog). The topic page contains an infinite scroll of recent or popular content, separated into the following tabs:
- Read. Contains top-performing questions related to the topic.
- Answer. Lists recently published questions in search of answers.
- Most Viewed Writers. From the horse’s mouth: “The 10 writers with the most answer views in the last 30 days.” Also displays “Up and Coming” authors, i.e. an honorable mention to users that rank just below the top 10.
The topics you select when you create your account or opt to “follow” will appear on the left-hand menu on your Quora homepage, allowing you to easily toggle back and forth from one topic to the next.
Quora Spaces - Communities Related To Your Topics
When scanning your topic pages, you may have noticed a section just below the header reading “Spaces Related to [Topic].”
Click any of these related links, and you’ll be taken to a new page that vaguely resembles the topic page format…with a few key differences.
A relatively new feature launched in 2018, spaces typically reflect more niche interests than topics. Spaces related to the “Photography” topic include “Jungle Life” and “Animals on Film!”, while those featured under the Marketing topic consist of “It’s Marketing Automation” and “Digital Marketing News and Trends.”
Let me emphasize, however, that this is only what spaces typically do. There are cases where spaces are named exactly like an existing topic (there’s both a topic and a space called “Video Games,” for example).
Though you can follow a space just like you would a topic, the way users contribute to a space is a bit different. While anyone can contribute to the questions and answers that appear on a topic, not all users can publish content to spaces. Instead, they’re run by a particular group of users. These are Quora users that helped create the space or were promoted as Admins or Contributors by existing members. Those Admins and Contributors can share links, publish blog-type posts, or ask questions targeted to other Admins and Contributors.
Unless you’ve been invited to join as an Admin or Contributor, a space functions like a Facebook group that you can view as a silent spectator. In some ways, spaces also function like subreddits: each one has its own set of rules or capabilities. Some spaces you can apply to join; others you must be invited into by existing members. Some spaces only allow you to downvote content and share questions and answers to Facebook and Twitter; others will allow you to pose questions to the space’s contributors.
It will take a little poking around on each space to gauge the level of engagement it enables for non-members. To discover more spaces to follow or apply to, use Quora’s search feature or click “Spaces” on the top menu for Quora’s recommendations.
Why should digital marketers care about Quora?
All this talk of topics, spaces, questions, contributors, etc. is all good and fun—but what is really the point of all this?
Simple: since it was made public in the summer of 2010, Quora has amassed a following of 300 million monthly users. That’s 300 million people looking for answers. Pair those high-intent users with Quora’s recent efforts to beef up their paid ad offerings, and digital marketers have themselves a promising lead for a new promotional avenue.
The folks at WordStream can vouch for Quora’s bright future as a tool for digital marketers. Seeing what Quora had to offer firsthand, they had this to report in their case study:
Quora admins themselves also claim that businesses see up to 4x more conversions than advertising on other social media platforms. From what we can tell, Quora isn’t just a platform for marketers to give the old college try—it’s a platform that may seriously be capable of boosting the effectiveness of a business’s online presence.
What are Quorans like?
You might be eager to dive headfirst and start building campaigns for Quora, but let’s take a step back and look at who’s actually on there.
Before jumping into paid and organic content with Quora—or any online community for that matter—it’s important to get to know the users: learn how they talk, what they like about the content they engage with, and what they value about the platform.
After all, you wouldn’t use the exact same language on LinkedIn and Twitter—and if you don’t do your research ahead of time, you wouldn’t even know the difference. Before you put your foot in your mouth with your first post, it might help to know what kind of content Quorans (yes, they’re called that) are actually hungry for.
The great thing about becoming Quora literate: the platform lends itself to the process of learning and discovery. So when I wanted to know what exactly brought active Quora users back to the platform each month, I found a question post that prompted the community directly.
Quora exposes you to a wealth of new information
Many Quorans expressed that the platform is good at its job as a question-and-answer platform, and that they appreciate the amount of new information they are easily able to uncover.
Users are not only ready to learn when they log onto Quora, but expect to be provided with helpful tips, new perspectives, and valuable insight regarding the topics of their interest. These high-intent users are the perfect subjects for content that is informative, interesting, and influential.
Quorans value the quality of written work on the platform.
According to Quora users, another great thing about the platform is the quality of the answers provided.
Many Quorans take their time to answer questions thoughtfully, and their content is often written with care. This thoughtfulness isn’t limited to a particular set of topics either; well-developed responses can be found across several topics, from marketing to NASA to Harry Potter.
After taking a peek at the lengthy posts that grace the top of many topic pages on Quora, it won’t come as much of a shock that adults spend 2x as much time on Quora as they do on LinkedIn. B2B advertisers, take note.
The sense of community among users is palpable
Time and time again, users on Quora have praised the people they’ve met through the platform, the advice or feedback they’ve received from fellow Quorans, and the generally kindhearted nature of the Quora community.
One user noted that many Quorans take to the platform to share their personal experiences, whether to vent or to benefit readers that may find themselves in similar situations. Endeared by the community’s kindness toward people that share those stories, she admitted that she wouldn’t see a reason to continue using the website without it.
These observations point towards three key rules to abide by when generating content on Quora:
- Provide value. Don’t just be there to be there; be there because you have something genuinely helpful or insightful to offer.
- Write well. Nobody has time to slog through choppy sentences or run-ons. Keep it clean, concise, and approachable and you’ll get much better results.
- Be genuine. Online communities can sniff out posers in a second. Keep it real and you’ll find other users are much more willing to engage with your content in a meaningful way.
What is advertising like on Quora?
Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty: advertising on Quora.
Types of Quora Ads
There are three types of paid advertisements available on Quora:
All three appear similar to organic Question posts. In fact, a Promoted Answer is an organic post that’s been elevated to paid status. Like a boosted Facebook post, you must have a link to an existing answer ready in order to choose this option.
However, there are a few characteristics that allow users to easily distinguish ads from organic posts. The bolded headline on an ad is preceded by “Sponsored by soandso.com” or “Promoted by Company X.” Image and Text Ads also contain a CTA button with an external link, while Promoted Answers feature a “(more)” or “(Continue Reading in Feed)” at the end of the preview text.
As you can see, ads also get sandwiched between organic posts. Depending on how you choose to push your ads throughout Quora, these posts might be tangentially or directly related to your ad.
Speaking of targeting…
Ad Targeting on Quora
Quora provides several targeting options for advertisers to choose from, including new capabilities just added in 2019:
With this option selected, you can list Quora topics, keywords, or questions you’d like your content to be associated with across the platform. Note that you can only select one of these three categories to target per campaign.
With the help of the Quora Pixel installed on your site, you can identify segments of your site visitors to target on Quora or upload an existing list of contacts. Even if you don’t choose this targeting option, Quora also provides the ability to exclude particular audiences (and questions) towards the bottom of the targeting page.
Slightly different than contextual targeting, this newer feature allows advertisers to reach audiences that have certain interests or recently (up to the last 30 days) visited or viewed particular questions or keywords. Rather than appear alongside relevant question or topic pages, these ads will follow select users that have demonstrated the chosen behavior.
This option won’t limit your ads to particular topics, questions, or audiences. Instead, Quora will show your ads across the platform without adhering to any criteria besides your daily ad maximum, location targeting, and platform & browser targeting (we’ll get to that soon).
In addition to the primary targeting options listed above, Quora enables geographic inclusions and exclusions to help advertisers further refine the span of their efforts.
Platform & Browser Targeting
Exactly what it sounds like: target desktop users, mobile users, or both, and limit your ad reach to specific browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or “other”).
Check off this option to earn a spot on Quora’s Digest email, sent out to users at a frequency depending on their account preferences.
Choose a particular gender to target. Since adding this capability, Quora has reported a 40% lift in conversion rates.
As you select your targeting preferences, a Summary of your efforts will generate on the right side of the page, which will include the number of potential impressions that Quora projects the ads to receive in their current configuration.
The final step before heading to the ads creation process is setting your bid. Quora operates on a CPC/CPM model, and you can choose to optimize your ads for clicks, impressions, or “Generic” conversions.
Do I need to use paid advertising on Quora to use it to my advantage?
The short answer: no.
The long answer: as is the case with other social media platforms, marketers have two options to choose from for self-promotion: paid and organic.
On Quora, both are viable options for building an online presence. The choice to go all paid, all organic, or a mix of the two will depend on the amount of time and money you’re willing to spend.
If you’re new to the platform, I would suggest trying out an organic strategy before throwing money at Quora’s Ads Manager. Make an account, get to know the ins and outs of the platform, and identify which topics might have a valuable spot for your business to occupy.
If you can, create an account as a representative for your business, not the business itself. From what I’ve gleaned in my Quora research, promotional organic posts coming from a person rather than a broad corporate entity have achieved more impressions and higher engagement rates.
These two answers from the Event Planning topic demonstrate this phenomena on a small scale: the Unify Events answer received a significantly lower amount of views than the response provided by Charlie Wright, a representative from an event planning website.
Are you ready to make Quora a part of your digital strategy?
With millions of engaged & high-intent users, reported ad success, and recent upgrades to its Ads Manager, we could see Quora breaking into social media ad territory previously dominated by Facebook. Ideally, you could be delivering helpful answers to potential customers literally asking for them. Whether or not the platform is right for your goals, Quora is certainly worth a look.
If you need us, we’ll just be at the office, patting ourselves on the back for publishing a Quora blog with only questions as headers. (We promise we won’t bring our bad jokes to future discovery meetings).
- Megan O'Keefe
- Social Media & Content Specalist