Facebook Questions is now available — Q-and-A at your fingertips — capable of becoming one of the most productive applications in the social network’s recent history. That may sound optimistic, but as the alternatives — for obtaining fast, useful answers — are often cumbersome, the practical applications for both consumers and business Fan Pages appear numerous.
On Thursday, Facebook Product Manager Adrian Graham made the announcement via the company blog that Facebook Questions, which was restricted to limited testing, is currently being deployed to everyone. He also noted its basic premise for development.
Graham stated that “friends are often the best source of advice” for consumer related information, such as “Where should I go to dinner?” We also turn to friends for answers on everything from parenting to job hunting advice.
While commercial and fan page use went unmentioned, both businesses and individuals can benefit from the easy-to-use application, particularly the poll feature.
Potential Business Use
There are many lonely Facebook pages about offering little return appeal and interactivity between businesses and customers. Even shoestring businesses can add this application and no coding knowledge is required.
Polls generated with Facebook Questions encourage both feedback and return visits, if focused in an effective manner. Examples:
* A new restaurant may present choices to new fans – regarding a menu item for a grand opening discount, say – and put them up for vote.
* Publications may solicit topic suggestions and feedback.
* Brands could more closely follow complaints and conduct damage control.
The tactics are not novel but for marketing purpose it is easier to reach people already engaged in Facebook. Inherent social networking features, provide more reach. e.g., friends of friends can follow or answer questions.
Basic benefits of Facebook Questions
* Eliminates blind status queries: friends may be invited to answer a question or poll.
* Saves time weeding through off-topic and long comment threads in Facebook Groups for answers.
* Polls are conspicuously displayed on one’s Wall with friends’ avatars flanking one side of the respective answers.
* Questions can be followed easily (link in the left column) offering the opportunity to track topics of interest.
* Should Google index answers (like it does for Quora) the potential for spam or irrelevancy will increase.
* As with all things Facebook, privacy is an issue. Read the policy first and keep it handy for friends and customers.
* Following questions may become annoying if it interferes with status and other updates, therefore discouraging use.
Facebook Questions is not likely to be a Quora or Q&A site killer as some tech commenters speculate, though it is feasible the networking class will frequent Q&A sites less and rely on friends and associates more for answers.
Facebook vs. Twitter: Which is better for marketing?
Donna Porter parlays her 15 years on the Web into practical information on social media and technology. Her experience in journalism, small business and consumer advocacy is supplemented with ISO certifications in Internet research, data evaluation and related fields.