What’s next? (IX) | 互联网 2011 (IX)

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Q&A opportunity… maybe

Q&A went big in Asia some six years ago. But then a society with more Confucian outlook that puts an emphasis on harmony had just the right trust mechanism to make the services successful. In the west, the results have been less outstanding. Yahoo! Answers is full of crap content and under-monetised, Google’s US service (powered by experts) was eventually closed down as they struggled to get sufficient value out of it. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t work, maybe it wasn’t the time for it, or a different spin on the approach may blow-up. Look at online social networks, The WELL has been around since the mid-90s, AOL  and CompuServe were also a proto-social networks in many respects; but it took LinkedIn and Facebook to get to their current sizes before they became common currency.

There is a huge potential opportunity for Q&A services:

  • Forums and Facebook page walls often do the same job in an inelegant manner, so there is a proven latent need to exchange knowledge
  • There is a lot of new innovation in the space. Huddle is more of a decision engine but helps consumers answer choice questions that they may have
  • LinkedIn Answers stands a chance of being rejuvenated by the more social functions in LinkedIn. I suspect that it is no coincidence that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner was the executive ultimately responsible for Yahoo!’s knowledge search efforts which begot social bookmarking (a kind of passive Q&A if you think about the consumer context) and the global roll-out of  Yahoo! Answers
  • Quora has managed to carefully foster a community out of the digerati to develop a bank of high-quality answers. It has less ‘noise’ than LinkedIn Answers as it is still under the radar of the carpetbaggers. From a marketers point-of-view it is easy to seed questions through the service

Q&A services are ripe for the provision of expert comment from clients. The bigger opportunity is helping business-to-business clients engage with potential prospects and demonstrate expertise | thought leadership. Part of the attraction is that it is currently less regulated than using these techniques for consumer marketing. There is an opportunity for agencies to provide focused content creation that will deliver results and its good for off-network SEO.

What’s next series of posts
Just media – drop the social
Augmented reality – use sparingly
Community management

Flight to quality content
Location – creative opportunities
Mobile: iPhone… for the time being
Social CRM