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Promoting Yourself and Your Business on Q&A Sites

Using a Q&A site to promote yourself and your business requires thinking outside the box. Here are several tips for making the most of a Q&A site as a promotional tool:

  • Complete your profile. When people read an interesting question or answer, they often click the author's link to view this person's profile. Make sure that your profile offers a concise summary of your background targeted to the site's audience. Include relevant links if you want people to visit your website or other social site. Having a quality profile that clearly demonstrates your credentials and expertise also makes others more likely to value your opinions.
  • Demonstrate your expertise by adding value. When you answer a question, it's important to provide an intelligent, helpful response. Responding to numerous questions with vague answers in an effort to increase your visibility won't pay off in the long run. Focus on quality rather than quantity, and answer only when you have a meaningful contribution.
  • Avoid overt sales pitches. If selling is your primary goal, you might be tempted to answer questions by promoting your products and services. This strategy could actually have the opposite effect than the one you want, however, as overt sales tactics on a Q&A site often drive away sales. Instead, focus on providing value. For example, if you sell a mobile analytics application, respond to questions about this topic by adding insightful commentary, rather than just telling readers how great your app is.
  • Analyze your competition. Researching your competitors on Q&A sites helps you to ensure that your presence matches-or exceeds-theirs. You can find competitors by viewing the profiles of the people associated with these companies, and by searching for your competitors' names and products to see what other people are saying about them.
  • Ask intelligent, thought-provoking questions that ignite a conversation. Don't just answer questions; ask them as well. One of the best ways to gain visibility is to ask a question that becomes popular and generates a lot of discussion. Questions that focus on current events or contentious industry issues often create the most buzz.

Summary

Professional Q&A sites are a great resource for getting answers to your most pressing business questions. With a little creativity, they can also be a great tool for market research, thought leadership, competitor intelligence, and much more.

Patrice-Anne Rutledge is a business technology author and consultant who specializes in social media, online applications, and small business technology. Learn more about Patrice's books and other projects at http://www.patricerutledge.com.

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