Thursday, December 17, 2015

Five Reasons Why Your Company Should Have a Quora Account

Since it was founded the social Q&A site Quora has mostly been restricted to individual users. This year a handful of companies were allowed to have company accounts for an experimental period. Now Quora has opened up company accounts to most businesses. According to the Quora announcement, to qualify for a company account "your company must have at least three employees and a mature and built-out website".

But why should a company have an account on Quora? Here are five good reasons:

Brand Protection. First of all if you don't create an account someone with the same of a similar name might occupy the space. Quora is ranked highly by Google so pages on the site appear quite high in search results. Even if you don't plan to apply much effort to the site it is still prudent to register an account early so that you get the username and URL you want.

Market Intelligence. People often wonder what people are thinking about their products and pay market research companies to conduct surveys. But you can also pick up some useful information about your company, your brands, your products and your services through the conversations on Quora. You can watch the content added by users spontaneously or even post your own questions to spark an interaction.

Crisis Management. Quorans frequently post "Is it true that..." type questions. When these questions concern your company one way to slow false rumors quickly is to post an "official" answer on Quora. This is likely to rise to the top of the answer pile and be recognized as an authoritative answer. This use of Quora for damage control is more important than it appears because Quora content often appears in Google searches, so the impact goes beyond the boundaries of the site, ibfluencing non users.

Recruiting. Quora provides an interesting environment for recruiters because many of the questions are about finding work and how to do interviews. This is an opportunity for companies to respond directly to questions about their company, their recruiting, their interviews and their workplace culture. It's also an opportunity to engage in conversations with people who might be interesting for recruitement.

Media Relations. Quora content also impacts coverage in traditional media. First of all some journalists post questions on the site and use the answers either directly or to identify contacts. Wearing my freelance hat I have done this many times. Some content is also republished directly by Quora's media partners, Time, Forbes, Inc, Newsweek and others. Quora answers -- especially ones about current events -- are also picked up by journalists looking for expert or first person comments about events.

Apart from these five cases, the final compelling reason why companies should consider having a Quora account is that the site offers a relatively safe environment. There is some trolling and there is some harassment, but the site's very strict "BNBR" -- Be Nice Be Respectful -- policy means that all disrespectful, spammy or trolling content can be reported and will be removed. Users who break this rule are also suspended or banned.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

If you would like to talk to Andrew Hennigan about lectures, workshops, coaching and writing about digital marketing and other communication topics you can reach him by email at conseil@andrewhennigan.com, by phone on 0033 6 79 62 41 81 or 0046 730 894 475 and through his website http://andrewhennigan.com

Friday, December 11, 2015

Not Dead Yet, Email Finds New Life Through Digital Assistants

People have been predicting the end of email for many years. Already in 2009 the Wall Street Journal was arguing that the reign of email was over in Why Email No Longer Rules...  But email has stubbornly resisted every attempt to replace it.

As a marketing tool it is still effective, even though there are better alternatives and spammy email universally despised, a topic I covered in 2013 in Why a 40 Year Old Marketing Tool is Still Relevant. As a business communication tool it has also proved to be more resilient than it's successors like the now defunct Google Wave, a theme I discussed in 2014 in Why Email Isn't Dead or Dying Anytime Soon. In this post I argued that email would persist because you can email anyone anywhere using anything, almost. Other apps might be more elegant, but while some people use messenger others use WhatsApp. And you can email from an iPhone6 to an old Windows desktop. You can't do that with Snapchat.

But now there another trend is giving email a few more years yet: the rise of email-based digital assistants. Concur's Tripit, for example, takes all the emails concerning your travel plans, parses them and prepares for you a logically organized itinerary. All you have to do is forward a copy of all your confirmation emails to the Tripit email address and the rest is automatic.

Google's Inbox smart email client provides a similar service, automatically collecting all the messages concerning a trip and extracting the essential information for easier access. This works better than you might expect and I have been pleasantly surprised when Inbox has added to a trip folder some detail that I had forgotten. Google is also testing a version where Inbox can suggest replies for incoming messages.

Now a startup called x.ai is testing a new email-based digital assistant called Amy who schedules meetings for you. All you have to do is copy Amy on emails about meetings and she will check the calendars of all the participants and suggest a suitable time and date. This might look creepy at first but if past experience is anything to go by we will not only get used to this we will start to rely on it.

So email is far from dead, but perhaps the future isn't in humans reading email, but with email becoming just a universal infrastructure for transferring messages to any device. Digital assistants will then read the mails for us, presenting only the information we need, scheduling our meetings and maybe answering simple mails for us. But the best part is that if someone in the loop has only an ancient desktop running Windows 3.1 and a dialup connection they can still read the raw text of incoming emails and process it themselves, so digital assistants based on email actually maintain this backward compatibility that has kept email alive for almost half a century.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

Andrew Hennigan provides lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about email and other communication topics. For more information you can reach him by email, of course, at conseil@andrewhennigan.com, by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81. There is more contact info and background information on his website http://andrewhennigan.com