Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer wrote a great post today about social media best practices for Q&A forums as well as additional perspective from his own poll asking LinkedIn users how often they answer questions on LinkedIn for lead generation purposes.
A comment on the post from 'derekedmond' caught my eye because of how well it reflects some of the Q&A success stories from the study and Business.com Answers I wrote about in a prior post. Here is his comment:
"I have some friends and colleagues absolutely killing it with forums/question-answer-sites (wrote a post on my personal blog about this a few weeks ago). The reason being is that for small niches, if you can find a passionate audience or community your site/product satisfies a need with, it's amazing the amount of traffic, exposure, and links one can get.
My experience is that you have to dig deeper to find the most value and opportunities - and there is certainly less support/public examples to go by, but with patience and perseverance it can definitely work."
The core issue he speaks to is "quality" - an online forum in which a dialog quickly forms between people seeking answers to important questions and experts (often vendors) who have answers to those questions delivers a high-quality experience and amazing results for both parties. This is what lead gen should be: people with real needs connecting with someone who can help them meet that need.
Q&A Forum Characteristics Impact Lead Gen Opportunities
Unfortunately, this quality Q&A experience is often very difficult to achieve in broad, general forums such as Yahoo! Answers which depend on the combination of high traffic volume and the search skills of those asking and answering questions for these high-quality dialogs to form. Macro-niche forums like LinkedIn Answers can deliver a somewhat better experience by attracting a more targeted audience but rely on those with questions and those with high quality answers to find one another. Micro-niche forums like derekedmond mentions are at the other extreme - great, very focused discussions but can be both difficult to find and may not be broad enough to be something most experts would frequently monitor or participate in.
Moderated B2B Q&A with Business.com Answers
With Business.com Answers, our own business Q&A site we launched a few months ago, we're working to combine the best of micro- and macro-niche Q&A forums to make it easier for business people to form high quality dialogs around specific business needs.
Millions of business people visit the Business.com site each month to find something they need for their business - the site combines the most popular B2B online directory with tens of thousands of business how-to guides and, with the introduction of Business.com Answers, the ability to directly post their business questions on the site.
To help people get the best possible answers to their questions, we're taking a more proactive approach than other large-scale Q&A forums, reaching out to subject-area experts and relevant vendors with specific questions they should be able to answer. This more 'personal' introduction to Business.com Answers also helps us reinforce a number of the best practices for participating in Q&A forums that we wrote about in the recent report covered by Jason Falls.
If you participate in Q&A forums for lead generation purposes today, or are thinking about doing so in the near future, give Business.com Answers a try. And if you're already using Business.com Answers, we'd love to hear more about your experience and the results you're seeing!