My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.

Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quora – Will it live up to all the hype?

The past couple of months have been full of buzz about Quora, the newest social networking site. According to the site, it’s “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” This start-up is a combination of many household-name social media sites, including Yahoo! Answers, Twitter, Digg and Facebook. How long it will last and what its impact will be remains to be seen, but Quora has certainly achieved an impressive launch.

The site was founded by two former Facebook employees and had its public launch in June 2010. Quora intends to build itself into the place to go whenever you have a question. Questions range from those with clear-cut, non-negotiable answers to those that are more open to interpretation. The site aims to grow its database of knowledge until nearly everything that anyone wants to know can be found in the system.

How exactly does the site work? It’s free to sign up, but to get started with an account, you are encouraged to link to either your Facebook or Twitter. This automatically sets you up to follow all your Facebook or Twitter friends who are already connected to Quora at the time you join. Once logged in, you are presented with topics that might interest you, based on the information found in your Facebook or Twitter account. Alternatively, you can select topics of interest if you choose not to link with Facebook or Twitter. There is an easy-to-use search box at the top of the page, where you can either add a new question or search topics. Selecting a topic will take you to that specific page, containing a plethora of questions and answers exclusively on the topic of your choice.

Quora is reminiscent of Twitter in that you can “follow” people and topics. Its comparisons to Digg stem from the fact that you can vote your impression of questions and answers, either up or down, to convey if you find them helpful or not. The Facebook-feel can be attributed to the fact that it is attempting to harness the powers of community – this is the greatest asset of the site by far. Everyone likes to feel that they are a part of something, and Quora has the potential to build upon that. Of course, not every question will be answered, but the quality of answers has proven to be impressive. One example cited numerous times involves a Quora member posing a question about an AOL marketing campaign from the 1990’s. Two of the respondents were AOL founder Steve Case and Jan Brandt, the marketing executive who actually came up with the campaign in question.

Less than a year after opening to the public, coverage of Quora is rapidly expanding. In the past month, it has been written about in GovLoop,, TechCrunch, Time and Federal Computer Week, to name a few. Some of the articles are full of praise, while others bring up concerns and challenges.

The kind of impact Quora could have on the government marketplace has yet to be seen, but there was a great article in Federal Computer Week recently, explaining how a staff member for GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) used Quora to get a feel for public sentiment on using social media for legislation. (

It is far too early to tell if Quora will indeed be the next big thing. It appears to have potential for use in the government marketplace and could change the way you interact with your target audience. This site is one to keep an eye on. Email me at or call me at 301-924-0330 and let me know if you use Quora, or if there’s another new site you’d like to know more about – we’d love to hear from you, and we’re glad to help you determine what communications tools best help you meet your pr/marketing goals and objectives!