Most times you have a question, you can just Google it and get an answer in a couple of seconds.
If you need a more complex or academic answer, then Wikipedia gives you a helping hand.
But what if the answer you need fails to light up your search results?
Or maybe you need an opinion rather than a fact, and only a real human being can give one of those.
Or perhaps you require expert advice from someone you can trust.
You’re in luck. Somebody, somewhere, has the answer you’re desperate for. They’re sitting at their keyboard, right now, waiting to enlighten you.
You’ve just got to know where to find that guy.
It’s not as difficult as you might imagine. In fact, at Social Caffeine, we’ve done the hard digging for you, so you’ll know exactly where to start.
Q&A Social Networks To Find Your Answer – Fast
Q&A social networks are all about connecting people with questions to people with answers. They’re not the most well-known social media sites, but they sure are the most helpful.
With 85 million unique monthly visitors, Yahoo Answers is the web’s most famous (and infamous) Q&A social network. Unless your question is totally obscure, you’re pretty much guaranteed an answer, and often it’s a good’un.
The downside? Because Yahoo Answers is so popular, it has become a hive for trolls, nitwits and other annoying web monsters. In addition to your useful answer, chances are you’ll get three stupid ones on the side.
Verdict: If you’re willing to sift the wheat from the chaff, Yahoo Answers is the best starting point. Oftentimes, you’ll find your question has already been answered.
The rising star among new social networks, Quora‘s strength is a core of expert power users who provide quality answers to almost any question. In addition, Quora’s voting system pinpoints the very best answers for you.
While Quora is great for getting in-depth answers, you’ll struggle to get an answer fast without investing credits in promoting your question. And unless you’re a Quora power-user, credits are hard won. It’s a Catch-22 situation.
Verdict: For expert advice and in-depth opinions, Quora is hard to beat. However, you must invest time and energy to make the most of it and get the best answers.
Yahoo Answers’s ugly sibling, Mahalo Answers is still popular, with 10 million visitors a month. You can offer a tip ($$$) to the person who gives you the best answer, which encourages people to jump in and share the advice or knowledge you need.
However, because it’s less popular than Yahoo Answers, the chances of you getting a good answer for free are slimmer.
Verdict: It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and it’s worth a pop if you’ve yet to get the answer you need elsewhere.
A community of volunteer experts on everything from goats to fashion, All Experts provides free expert advice to anyone with a question. When you ask a question, you’re encouraged to give as much detail as possible, so it’s all about getting your specific question answered. Experts on the site are rated, so you can be sure of a quality answer.
On the downside, because the site is fueled by volunteers, you may find there’s no expert available, or the expert you need is overloaded and unable to answer your question, particularly if you need an answer on a popular subject. What’s more, it can take up to three days to get an answer.
Verdict: If you need an expert answer for free, All Experts is the place to go.
Still not found the answer you need? Don’t give up hope yet! You can chase it down with one or more of the following.
Usenet Newsgroups. These old-school social networks have been around since the 1980s. Though the technology is outdated, they remain popular with academics, so signing up to a newsgroup can make access to boffins just a click away. Google Groups includes an archive of over 700 million UseNet postings from the past 20 years.
Forums. The classic social network, forums provide a place for people around the world to gather and talk around a common topic. The only problem is, there are nearly as many neglected forums as there are abandoned blogs. Find an active forum on the topic of your question, and members will be happy to help.
Blogs. Find a blog post from a top blogger that’s related to your question, and ask away in the comments section. Most bloggers love to have their brains picked.
Facebook and Twitter. The answer you need may be closer than you think. Why not ask your Facebook friends or Twitter followers?
Find the Q&A Networks that Work For You
The key to getting quality, consistent answers at high speed is to find the networks where the experts, people or friends you need hang out. Once you know this, any answer is just a short click and a well-phrased question away.
Want to know more about what hidden social networks can do for your brand? Check out this week’s featured Social Caffeine ebook, The Secret Networks No One Talks About. Get your copy from Amazon here. Amazon UK users get your copy here.
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