Facebook has joined the likes of Yahoo and LinkedIn with the rollout of a new Q&A product called Facebook Questions. While the Q&A format is nothing new on the Web, Facebook’s more than 500 million users add an interesting twist to the space, and potentially create an opportunity for small businesses as the feature evolves.
"Questions" is still in beta, but if you have it enabled, you can see that Facebook wants to make it a major part of the site. “Ask Question” is now a feature of the Publisher, meaning Facebook places it on the same level as status updates, posting photos and sharing links. It’s also integrated on Facebook Pages, where a new “Questions” tab lets users ask questions directly on the Page that can be answered by Page admins or fans.
Much like LinkedIn Answers, where providing answers to questions that are relevant to your business can be a great way to connect with new people, Facebook Questions also has the makings of a killer networking and lead generation tool. Click on the “Questions” link that now appears in the left-hand navigation of Facebook and you’ll see questions relating to your interests as well as those asked by friends and friends of friends.
To give yourself the best shot at seeing relevant questions here, you’ll want to make sure you list interests in your personal profile that align with the business's industry and core competencies. There are a few other ways to find questions too, including manually entering in a topic, or choosing from suggested topics or trending topics.
Once you find questions that are of interest, it’s important to note that you can answer them as a business. In other words, if you have created a Facebook Page for Acme, Inc., you can respond to Facebook Questions as Acme, Inc. instead of as John Doe. This lets the person who asked the question – and anyone else who stumbles upon it – visit your Facebook Page instead of your personal profile.
As a Page admin, you can also ask questions that are visible both on your Page and in your fans' News Feeds on Facebook. This creates a new way to communicate with your fans aside from status updates and news links that you’re probably already used to sharing. These questions also get indexed by Facebook (Questions are visible to everyone on the site), which means other users could find them and in turn find your business. Unfortunately, these Questions don’t show up on your Wall as of yet – one of a handful of usability issues that Facebook still needs to address with the product.
It’s too early to tell how widely used Facebook Questions will be. A huge user base doesn’t guarantee that users will embrace using the product in completely new ways; a great example of that is Google Buzz, which had tens of millions of Gmail users at its disposal but has largely gone quiet in the months since its launch. Still, Q&A offers some interesting possibilities to both engage current customers and potentially reach new ones, so keep an eye on Facebook Questions for future opportunities.
Has your small business tested the waters with Facebook Questions yet? If so, let us know how you're experimenting with the new feature in the comments below.
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