On January 11th, Scott Goodson published a post on Forbes.com entitled, "Why is Quora Exploding?" In his post he muses, "Today, Quora has... built... a lovely space where genteel thought leaders ask questions, provide answers and debate ideas in an open forum."
This is truly one of the best explanations of Quora that I have read to date.
Like many others in my circle, after hearing much to do about Quora at the end of last year, in 2011 I decided to finally dive in and begin to explore what this new platform had to offer. A few weeks, a few topics and a few hundred followers later, for me it's been love at first sight. Quora feels a bit like Facebook and a bit like Twitter. It provides answers to questions like Yahoo answers. And yet the feel of this community is quite distinct than the feel of any of the other platforms that I've just mentioned. It is not set up to just provide answers to questions. It is not set up to merely provide updates to a community of followers and friends.
It's set up to create thought provoking dialogue and conversations about different topics that run the gamut from social media to business and philosophy.
For me the feel of Quora is reminiscent of some of my favorite graduate level courses at Cornell University.
It is that exploration that is so attractive.
When I asked folks on Twitter what they thought of Quora, one person responded: "It's like twitter, but just for smart people." When I read his tweet, I had to laugh because though I see it slightly differently, I could definitely see where he was coming from in his response.
There is a high caliber of conversation that is happening on Quora. Moreover, it is happening among thought leaders and influencers who have been the early adopters of this platform and who are engaging in an honest exchange of ideas and friendly debate.
So how does it work?
When one first signs into Quora one has the opportunity to define the topics that one finds of interest (I chose everything from Social Media and Social Media Marketing to Enlightenment and Zen.) One also has the opportunity to follow folks from one's respective communities on Twitter and Facebook. Then one has the chance to engage with different questions posted to the different topics. This could take the form of responding to a question, following the responses to a question or posting a question of one's own.
Will Quora be the next big thing (and as some are predicting) bigger than Facebook and Twitter?
I honestly don't know and I think that it's too soon for anyone to tell.
However, I think this platform holds a lot of promise and will resonate with many of us who are hungry for intelligent, respectful discourse and new ways to leverage online conversations and communities.
Moreover, while at present Quora is not allowing companies to create profiles for their brands there is still a tremendous opportunity for brands to go to where the people/influencers are to find out what they are saying. The conversations on Quora are rich and the opportunities for saavy marketers willing to engage in the conversations many. I'm excited to see what the future holds.