Yahoo Answers. LinkedIn Answers. Quora. Now Facebook. Question and answer sites have always been popular and recently resurfaced with the rise of Quora. As of March 24th, Facebook threw their hat into the Q&A ring with their Facebook Questions. So what really separates Facebook's contribution to questions and answers that makes it different from that of Quora or LinkedIn Answers?

Facebook Questions limits inquiries to those that can only be answered in a simple, multiple-choice platform. An individual or brand could post a question like "Who would win in a fight?" and post a couple of options like "Prince" or "Michael Bolton" and people within your network could click on what best reflects their opinion (and then proceed to make fun of you for posting that question). Question posters also have the ability to open up the question to allow answerees to add additional options to the list. For example, in a question asking "Which is the best college in Kentucky?" The question started off only listing the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville but others eventually added in other smaller schools like Western Kentucky (my alma mater), Morehead State, Bellarmine etc.

So what are the benefits to this type of question and answer platform? How could a business tap into this?

Crowdsource Research from Fans

Facebook fans, in the grand scheme of things, are going to be your more active brand enthusiasts. They're your top online supporters. When deciding which specials to have one week or what sort of products are the fan favorites, this will give great and quick insight into the opinions of your fans. The fact that fans could also add more answer options to the multiple-choice list could also give brands more insight into options they may not have heard of before. Questions wouldn't just give insight into fan pysche but also has potential to improve fan engagement on a brand page.

Short and Sweet

Some may see this as a disadvantage but it's a huge plus in my book. There's really no room for long form answers like you would have in Yahoo Answers or Quora. You click on the answer you like best, see the voting results...and that's it. There is the option for deeper discussion in the comments section but it isn't required to learn the meat of what you want to know. The best things online are typically short and to the point, a feature I think gives this new Facebook feature a fighting chance.

Only Hear From Who You Know

Below each question, you can filter responses by 'friends' and 'everyone.' You can view votes and comments made only by your Facebook friends. Unlike another Q&A platform, you're only going to initially see responses from people you know. You can opt to see all comments but it's not the default option. For most users, this will be a great way to see answers they will really care about instead of thousands of random responses they may not have interest in. Users can also follow certain questions and only receive notifications for responses from friends only on questions they're interested in. If you want to find out from specific friends how they stand on a certain question, you can also invite other friends to ask a question (similar to how you would invite a friend to a fan page).

You also don't have to give app permission to view questions like many polls. Score.

As of right now, Facebook Questions are not able to be indexed by search engines, only internally on Facebook. So for increasing SEO and the ability to focus on longer form content, there still is quite a bit of usability for a site like Quora.

It'll be interesting to see how people and businesses start tapping into this for marketing purposes. This interview with Ben Grossman on Mashable gives other good insights on how Questions may be tapped for branding purposes.

How do you all see this being leveraged? Any specific brand examples so far?

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