In the last few weeks Facebook has been slowly rolling out a feature that, while not exactly new in concept, I think gives businesses and brands another opportunity to think strategy surrounding their Facebook efforts. The feature is Facebook Questions. The feature is pretty much a re-release of Facebook Polls (see my previous article on InsideFacebook.com in 2008 where I discussed this as a business tool), with even greater viral potential. In fact, it makes even more sense today than ever, with the increased focus on Facebook Pages, something Facebook has chosen to focus on with the new Questions feature.
Facebook Questions, in many ways is like my SocialToo Surveys, with a pure Facebook focus (on SocialToo we have Twitter and Facebook integration, with more Social Networks coming soon), and the ability to completely take the poll out of the question (no pun intended). Facebook Questions focus on one question that the user can ask to his or her friends, and those friends can answer anything they want to (something you can do in SocialToo’s comments for each SocialToo Survey). The difference is that on Facebook you can vote up or down each answer, and the most popular answers get pitted at the top in a more prominent position. This puts it at more of a competing stance with Yahoo Answers, or Quora, or Aardvark.
With each Facebook Question, the person asking can also add a poll, allowing other Facebook users to answer a set of pre-defined answers, allowing the person asking to see what the most popular of his or her own answers might be. All this while allowing users to also add their own answers and vote those up or down. I admit, it’s a pretty cool implementation, and something I’ve long wanted to do with SocialToo Surveys (and hopefully we will).
Here’s where you should get involved with your brand though. With each Question, the person asking can assign “Topics” to the Question. Each “Topic” is essentially just a Facebook Page somewhere. It can be any Facebook Page, and doesn’t even have to be one the person asking has even liked or administers. Assigning a Question to a Topic ensures that the Question has the potential of appearing in the list of Questions on the side of other users’ News Stream who have “liked” the Pages listed in the Question. So, in essence, you have the potential for a targeted, free, Facebook Ad if the Question is pitted right (albeit with much fewer customized options for targeting).
Businesses and brands ought to be taking advantage of this. Ask interesting questions to engage your audience, and tag Pages you think have people that might be interested in that question and your brand. Keep in mind though that Facebook currently has no way to moderate (or delete) the answers to the Questions you ask, so be prepared if a Question happens to turn against you. You can create Facebook Questions as an individual user, or as a Facebook Page.
In addition to asking and essentially tagging specific audiences with your Questions, there is another great strategy surrounding answers that you can utilize. I actually saw this with Facebook’s own “Facebook Pages” Page on Facebook. A user asked a question about Facebook Pages, and “Facebook Pages” answered the question for that user. I’m sure this brought more attention to that Facebook Page, and the user was even more satisfied as a result. Not only that, but future users will be able to see the “official” answer from Facebook on the issue. In a way, this also makes Facebook Questions a competitor to GetSatisfaction, as it can be a great Support Channel for your brand.
I wanted to know how Facebook did this, so I asked my own Question on Facebook. Damien Basille quickly answered with the following: “You must be an admin of the Facebook Page you want to answer as. Then, next to the Publish Answer blue button it will say “as [First name Last name] (change)”. Click on the (change) link and you will be able to answer as any of your FB Pages that you change to.”
So, with a simple click of the “change” link I’m now posting as my own Facebook Page, answering Questions all around Facebook about my brand. I think that’s pretty useful!
If you’re a brand, you should be carefully looking at Facebook Questions and figuring out a good way to integrate this great tool into your current Facebook Strategy. We can only hope that we’re given even more flexibility in the future to access these questions via an API. Hopefully a search API is provided, and we’ll start to see tools allowing brands and others to easily search and find people asking relevant Questions on Facebook.
If you’re not yet seeing the “Ask a Question” link in your status update box at the top of your news stream, have no fear – it will be there soon, as Facebook slowly rolls out this feature. This is something all brands should be looking at right now.
You can learn more about Facebook Questions at http://facebook.com/questions.