Thursday, October 13, 2011

20 Ways Colleges Should be Using Quora

Question and answer websites seem to be a dime a dozen these days, with most of them offering little to no quality in the community or responses to questions. However, Quora stands out as a great example of what can be done with a question and answer platform, bringing in a strong community, high quality discussion, and even high profile users. Colleges can benefit from using this great community, whether it’s for promotion of the school or enrichment for students. Read on, and you’ll find out about 20 ways colleges can take advantage of Quora’s "continually improving collection of questions and answers."


  1. Get on the map

    If you want people to talk about your college on Quora, you may have to be the one to get things started. Open an account to establish your school’s presence on the website, and add your college or university as a topic of discussion so there’s a place to go. This way, you can help facilitate organized discussion that you can easily monitor.

  2. Find vendors or tools

    The wisdom of crowds may be smarter than you think, and Quora offers high quality answers to any question you can think up. If you’re searching for a new solution for data, analytics, or even campus lawn maintenance, you just might be able to find the best one by asking Quora for its opinion.

  3. Answering questions

    It’s obvious, but true: as fountains of learning and information, colleges have a lot to offer the Quora community, which, according to some, only represents a "small piece of inquiry and expertise" due to its status as a fairly closed circle. With more participation from higher education, Quora can become a space for high quality answers from experts in higher education.

  4. Talking directly to experts

    Quora has been famous for attracting high profile users, and people asking questions on the site just might be getting their answers from the biggest experts in the industry. Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and even actor (and part time entrepreneur) Ashton Kutcher have contributed. Experts in academia and popular industries are on the site as well, giving students the opportunity to get information straight from the horse’s mouth.

  5. Find out what’s being said about your college

    It’s always a great idea to monitor your school’s social media reputation, and Quora is no exception. Many college and universities are being discussed on Quora, and schools would do well to see what questions are being asked and consider the responses. With this information, colleges may be able to better tailor their marketing and culture to highlight information that prospective students don’t seem to be aware of.

  6. Follow hot topics

    Follow channels of particular interest to your college, and keep an eye on the questions being answered. You can stay on top of and share news and interesting discussions happening in your college’s realm of expertise. These can be used for college development, or simply in blog posts, newsletters, and other communication.

  7. Help potential students and school supporters

    Take care of the people who take care of your school: alumni, sports fans, students, staff, and prospective students, all of whom may have a presence on Quora. If you find high school seniors asking questions about your school, needing help finding a school like yours, don’t be shy about stepping in and sharing your school’s potential for success. Develop these relationships, as well as relationships with other supporters and people that are interested in your school.

  8. SEO building

    The best SEO is done organically: that is, SEO that happens without the intention of doing SEO. But it’s worth noting that using Quora can boost your search engine presence. Quora sends trackbacks, rather than using the usual no-follow links that offer no credit. So the potential for good links from Quora is high. Keep this in mind when using Quora, and be sure to link to your site or blog whenever it’s relevant.

  9. Network

    Quora is establishing itself as a place where experts hang out, and as a college, you want to know, be, and get connected with experts, so networking on the site is extremely effective for schools. Get involved with people in the fields that matter to your school, whether it’s higher education or medicine. You can find experts that offer thoughtful discussion, or even potential new staff to bring onboard.

  10. Encourage faculty participation

    Let faculty know that Quora exists, and that it’s a great way to further advance their status as an expert in their field. Encourage them not only to join, but also to follow topics in their field and answer thoughtful questions.

  1. Recruit faculty and staff

    We’ve touched on this briefly, but it’s worth taking a look at Quora’s recruiting potential directly. As a place where experts hang out and identify themselves, you can spot new people to add to your college faculty, and see their expertise firsthand before they even come on board.

  2. Find PR opportunities

    If you’re not familiar with Quora, you may be surprised to find out there are many journalists who frequently use the site as a resource. They are typically looking for experts who are willing to speak about a given subject, an opportunity that colleges can easily pick up and use to their advantage. This puts your college in front of more eyes, and further cements your school’s expert status.

  3. Content inspiration

    If things are feeling stagnant on your college blog or Twitter feed, get some inspiration to get things moving again. Check out Quora to find content to write about, finding ideas for content that answers questions people actually want to know. This is a great way to make your school communications more useful and attractive to new users, and keep content fresh for regular readers.

  4. Journalism class engagement

    Social media journalism students can find a wealth of learning on Quora, through several relevant groups and topics, as well as active editors and publishers from major media outlets. Students can explore the work of these journalists, as well as learn about using social media such as Quora in journalism from the site. Quora offers a great way for students to learn about its applications in journalism.

  5. Add follow up questions

    Quora offers a feature for adding follow up questions after the main question has already been asked. If colleges find a question that is relevant to their campus or admissions, it might make sense to add a follow up question that can help focus the discussion on their school.

  6. Connect students with professionals

    Colleges can encourage students to connect on Quora, which offers a great opportunity for talking to experts beyond their own college campus. Initial research can be conducted on Quora, and students can benefit from being able to interact with professionals they might not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. Students can further invest in their field of study by participating in discussions on Quora, and even get connected with professionals who may be useful to know when it’s time to find opportunities after graduation.

  7. Correct misinformation

    As a social media outlet that colleges can monitor, Quora offers a great way to make sure information about your school is correct. Like Wikipedia, Quora will allow you to edit entries, even questions and answers, so colleges can monitor and correct contact information, courses, stats, and more for a more accurate reflection of the school.

  8. Take discussions outside the classroom

    College classes often use some sort of online discussion feature, but it doesn’t have to stop with the classroom. With Quora, question and answer discussions can be shared between classmates, while at the same time inviting outsiders and experts to share their opinions as well. This can make for a more lively and rich discussion with a variety of different viewpoints you might not be able to achieve in a closed discussion.

  9. Encourage students to answer questions among themselves

    Professors can encourage students to use Quora together, helping each other whenever possible. While professors or TAs are busy during office hours, or not available, students can take to Quora to ask and answer questions about class and assignments.

  10. Competitor research

    Find out what other schools are up to on Quora. The site offers a unique look into pricing, complaints, and the culture on campus. You can see what other colleges are doing right, as well as learn from their public mistakes before you have to make those same mistakes in your own school. This knowledge also offers a unique marketing advantage, as you can highlight what your school does right where others have failed.

Taken From Best Colleges Online

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