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How to Build Your Brand Using Quora

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SNAG_Program-0662 Quora is a digital space for users to exchange knowledge. Unlike its competitors, Yahoo! Answers and ChaCha, Quora’s user base attracts experts. From the beginning, business CEOs, Hollywood producers, and notable journalists have been answering questions.

Quora’s top answers are ones that were voted on by the users. Thus the answers that gain the most exposure are the answers that are the most useful or interesting.

How do you craft a strong answer that will get promoted?

The following Quora response made me want to buy a political book despite a minimum interest in politics.

The original question was: “What is the single most illuminating question I can ask someone?” There were plenty of interesting answers like ‘If all jobs paid the same, what would you be doing?’ and ‘When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?’

But the most popular answer came from New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. It was so popular that it was ‘upvoted’ by 2,166 Quora users. As a comparison, the next highest answer had only 291 votes.

In Jodi Kantor’s response she recommends avoiding overly general and philosophical questions if you really want to get to know someone. To get honest answers you have to do your homework. She illustrates her point with an example from her interviews with the First Family:

“The most illuminating questions are simple and specific. In the fall of 2009, I interviewed [the] President and First Lady … about their marriage. My goal was to get them to avoid sound bites, to give honest, unrehearsed answers. . . . So I summoned up my nerve and asked them, “How do you have an equal marriage when one person is president?”

Her full response captivated me. And then I was hooked with this final sentence:
“Oh, and if you’re interested in the Obamas’ behind the scenes adjustment to the White House, my book has much more on the topic.”

What Makes a Good Answer?

Credibility: Kantor’s answer was started with a statement about her professional interviewing experience with the NY Times. With credentials right up front, I knew the answer came from a reliable source.

Unique perspective: Instead of giving another predictable answer, she rejected the premise of the question altogether and offered a unique perspective.

Support with storytelling: To support her point, Kantor told an insider story about Mr. and Mrs. Obama that had famous intrigue but at the same time was relatable as she discussed the interworking of marriage.

The Elements of Good Storytelling

In Kantor’s answer, she uses some basic storytelling elements to prove her point:

1. The back story/setting: Kantor explains how she came up with the question.

“I had come to understand that equality was a serious issue in the Obama marriage, and that in the White House, the president and first lady are not treated in the same way… So I … asked them, ‘How do you have an equal marriage when one person is president?’”

2. The obstacle: Kantor shows how receiving an answer to an unorthodox interview question was difficult with step-by-step action and dialogue.

3. Step-by-step action: The action keeps us reading.
“Barack Obama is normally so eloquent, but he botched his reply three times, stopping and starting over . . .”

4. Dialogue: The dialogue makes this story more relatable and personal.
“Finally on the fourth try, he half-joked that his staff was more concerned with satisfying the first lady than satisfying him.”

5. Details: The details help us feel like we’re in the room witnessing the interview.

Make Your Point Stick with Point Evidence Point (PEP)

An extremely effective way of getting your point across is the “Point, Evidence, Point” technique or PEP. To get your point to stick with your target audience you must make your point, and then give evidence to support, and then summarize your point at the end. For more on PEP, check out my previous podcast How to Make Your Point Stick.

Persuade with the “But You Are Free” Technique

The introduction must be earnest. Despite intentions, if products and services are discussed too directly, too often, or too early, your answer will feel like a sales pitch. However, if you don’t mention your products and services at all, it can be a lost opportunity. I saw a great Quora answer by a producer and blogger but because their products and services weren’t mentioned I had to Google the information.

Depending on users to go to Google is unreliable. Conclude answers with a brief line of products and services.

One effective technique for introducing your products or services is the “but you are free” method. With this technique the listener is told they are free to refuse the request being made. The idea is that you make it clear that the listener has a choice in the matter.

Jodi Kantor uses this technique in the last line of her response:

“Oh, and if you’re interested in the Obamas’ behind the scenes adjustment to the White House, my book has much more on the topic.”

Quora is different than other social media platforms because brands are built not with memorable images or one-liners but with thoughtful answers (and questions) that resonate with readers. By using the techniques in this article, you can develop Quora content that rises to the top!

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