How to get the most from the new Facebook Questions

Facebook recently announced the (re)release of their Questions service.

Like many of our products, Questions originated as people began using Facebook in a new and unexpected way. People would update their status with a question, and their friends would answer in the comments. We saw this and began thinking about how we could make this interaction more useful. Over the summer, we began testing Questions with a small group of people, and today we are beginning to roll it out to everyone.

I have been making use of Facebook Questions and discovered some really viral visibility opportunities available for people and brands that can use Questions as well as some challenges to be aware of in the process.

The viral potential of Facebook Questions is very strong. When publishing a Question you should know that it is anything but private. Friends of friends of friends will see their friends’ response to the Question in their newsfeeds. They, in turn, will feel the need to also participate or, at the least, visit the Question page to see the other responses and who responded.

This makes Questions a wonderful opportunity for brands to drive new people to their Facebook Pages.

Visitors to a Facebook Question will see this:

Click to see larger image

The profile pic of the person or brand that created the Question will appear just below the results. It’s not a very dominant presence but it’s there all the same and should be leveraged. It would be a good practice to add a little “(Question brought to you by <insert your brand name here>)” at the end of the question text to bring brand awareness more front and center.

So now when friends of friends of friends see their friends’ response and choose to peek in at the Question results, they will be exposed to the Question creator’s brand and be inclined to investigate further (visit the brand’s FB Page).

There is a significant challenge awaiting online brand marketers here though. You need to accomplish two things with the wording of the question asked and the response choices you provide.

  1. The question must make people feel they want to participate. Appeal to the need to demonstrate intelligence (ego) or to participate with others in something timely and topical.
  2. The question or the provided choices should provide something about the brand that will pique interest and make the right Question viewers want to investigate your brand further.

While it may seem intuitive to ask questions directly related to your product or service (e.g. What color do you like your widgets?), unless you’re Coca-Cola or Pepsi, this isn’t likely to find much pick up. I often find myself counseling marketers to avoid the “backstage” perspective (where your copy seems to be written for your staff and not your prospects) and this one of those times. Questions should be based on a common denominator in and around your product or service (e.g. What’s the most fun someone can have with a Widget? and then provide silly fun choices). Maybe I’ll devote a future post to this aspect of Questions because it really is important.

Use the question or choices to reveal something about your product or service you know is appealing to prospects. Using the example above, some of the fun answers could be built around specific functionality found in Widgets. For example, “Scaring the cat with the Widget’s deep water warning alarm” or “What are some unexpected uses for the Widget’s deep water warning alarm?”

You are probably also asking yourselves, “What about search engine pick up?” The answer is, “Not at this time.” Right now, when not logged into Facebook, clicking a Questions link brings up an interstitial popover that says “Loading…” or you’re taken to a Facebook login page. Maybe they’re working on something but for now it seems Facebook Questions is visible only to logged in Facebook users. I recently heard that there are more people on Facebook than watched the latest record-breaking Superbowl TV broadcast. So I’m not complaining.

One last note… Questions don’t appear to go away after a set amount of time. So as long as people are chiming in, your Facebook Question will be out there churning through the Facebook population providing your brand additional visibility. This also creates a problem if your Question is very time-specific or promotes something you’re no longer offering.

 

[Original posted at http://beaulaurier.com/2011/03/28/how-to-use-facebook-questions]

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