How to leverage Q&A sites for brand promotion?

It’s no surprise that question and answer platforms have fast gained in popularity. Marketers now view them as a great branding tool for their obvious benefits including their reach and cost effectiveness. They can also be a very handy for the purpose of link building and more effective SEO.

In backdrop of self-promotion, branding and smart marketing opportunities that these sites present, it is worth considering their stand in this regard. As you would be aware, earlier this year, Quora eliminated its policy against the practice of self-promoting questions & answers. This is a significant development from earlier, when all but personal Q&A accounts were banished from the website. It’s an interesting positioning for Quora, looking to go beyond its existing audience.

By doing so, it wanted to encourage users to contribute more helpful information about topics where they boasted of relevant practical experience. Previously, the site did not allow any form of content that was deemed ‘primarily self-promotional’. It apparently hindered the site’s key motive of transforming itself into a comprehensive online resource. As a result, the restrictions were removed, prompting users to maintain quality by downvoting and making improvements answers, when appropriate.

Even as a self-promoter, you can tout your affiliations, by being ‘transparent’ about them in your answers. Now, quality of the answers and not the hidden intention behind them, matters more. From a professional’s perspective, your personal skills and experience is a tool that you can leverage to build your reputation on a Question and Answer site that lets you do so.

In other words, you can write about what you feel, you are an authority about – companies, organizations, people, products, services etc, just by disclosing relevant affiliations (for example, ‘I am an investor in so and so company’, or ‘I am a director of this institution’), sticking to standards of relevance and rationale. The policy change generated contrasting reactions from industry watchers. Valerie Combs, VP (Communications) of Ask, had then stated: “Our point of view is quite similar to the stance of Quora. The official added:

“Self-promotional (or branded) sources are often times experts, able to provide the most informed and effective answer to a question. Our Branded Q&A program will allow select brands to answer questions relevant to their topical expertise (i.e. cars, travel, food etc). With verified, clearly branded accounts, and a transparent user voting system, it appears both brands and individuals seem to have struck a nice balance in our community.”

You should strike the opportunity and keep in mind the fact that providing accurate and fact-based answers with real-life examples can help you nudge your potential customers towards your products/ services. Links to relevant pages will do the trick, and possibly generate leads. However, be wary of repeatedly posting content on the platform. That is going to be of no help, as a Q&A site admins may probably edit-block or ban you.