Quora – Stay N Alive

How is Quora Able to Auto-Like Posts on Facebook?

I’ve been contemplating a way to get Facebook like buttons to work with a brand’s own look and feel, so when you like it on a 3rd party site, it automatically likes the same Page (via Open Graph Protocol) on Facebook.  This would be a User Experience Designer’s dream come true, especially those that I work with in my day job trying to design stuff that works with Facebook.  Today I remembered that there is a site that is doing just that: Quora.  The problem is there is no API method that currently allows Facebook developers to send “likes” to URLs or Pages on Facebook.

Right now on Quora when you click “up” on any answer on Quora, if you’ve associated a Facebook account with your Quora account you have the option, in your settings, to also “like” the page for the answer on Facebook.  Doing so shows a post in the news feed that says something like “so and so likes such and such an answer on Quora”, linking back to the answer on Quora.  The likes, via Facebook’s Graph API also go up with that click.  This auto-posting is probably also helping to contribute to Quora’s massive growth in such a short period of time.

I thought I’d try to hack it to see if I could figure out what Quora is doing.  I’m pretty sure they’re getting special access by Facebook to do it.  Right now when I send a “POST” method call to https://graph.facebook.com/likes, with http://pathtoanyurl.com in a “url” parameter (and a working, offline_mode, access token), I get a message back from Facebook that says, “App must be on whitelist”.

I’m assuming Quora is on a special whitelist for Facebook to be able to auto-like posts via Facebook’s API, something most developers on Facebook Platform aren’t allowed to do.  This would make a lot of sense, considering Quora’s own founders were also some of the original founders of Facebook and most likely have very close ties with the service and its employees.

Now I just want to know, how can I get this whitelist access?

If you have a better answer, answer here, on Quora of course!

Hey Zuck, You’re Not Making My "Answer" an Easy One

I’ve been going back and forth with Robert Scoble and others today on why I should use the emerging Question and Answer service, Quora, when Facebook Questions is already pretty effective for me.  I often post a Facebook Question and get answers very shortly after, often from very smart people already knowledgeable about the topics I’m asking about.  I find it especially good if the questions are personal, and related to every day life questions.  That’s why I found it surprising after looking at Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook profile, that he’s only asked 2 questions there, where he’s asked 5 questions on Quora.  Are Facebook Questions just not that important to Mark?  How about question sites in general? Quora certainly doesn’t have much use by the CEO either.

Robert Scoble insists that what makes Quora more powerful than Facebook Questions is the quality of people answering questions there.  While I don’t doubt that CEOs are using it and often answering questions on the service (it started exclusively with invites to bloggers and influentials), who are those CEOs?  Mark Zuckerberg has only answered 5 questions on the service, and even fewer on his own site.  Is Bill Gates answering questions?  How about Michael Dell, or Steve Jobs, or even Bill Clinton?  It seems to me that smart and perhaps even successful entrepreneurs are using the service – I’m not sure either services have hit full potential yet with use by real legends like those above.  That still doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be using it though.  Quora does have an excellent search, and seems easier to find interesting questions as a whole.

At the same time I’m seeing great results from Facebook in the questions I ask there, and it’s already a part of my existing workflow.  For example, check out this question on my Ford F-150 truck’s lock problems, where with one answer I had a Ford certified technician providing me detailed howtos on how I could fix the problem I was having.  Or, check out this question on what speakers I should choose, and the audiophiles all giving me great feedback on my question.

I’d love to see Mark Zuckerberg show off how useful these questions services can actually be.  I’m having a really hard time deciding if I really need to add another service to my already busy and often distracting workflow when services I already use like Facebook  provide a tool I can use and potentially (assuming they eventually launch it to everyone, which they haven’t yet) have hundreds of millions see it, or if I should start another tool and have “smart people” and “CEOs” see it as Scoble implies he’s seeing on Quora.  Of course, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg himself is using Quora more than he is using Facebook Questions isn’t helping my quest either.

So Zuck, how about giving me some hints here – which one should I use, Quora or Facebook Questions?  In fact, I’ve created a Facebook Question on the topic – please vote and leave your own reasons why there: http://www.facebook.com/q/Which-Question-and-Answer-service-should-I-use-Facebook-Questions-or-Quora-Why/10150360664665113?t=2&hid=20531316728&keep_objects=1 (only available to those with Facebook Questions enabled)

I’d love to see Mark Zuckerberg use his own service a little more to help convince me to stay with my current decision on Facebook Questions.  Or maybe it’s just an experiment at the moment and I need to be trying other services?  I can’t decide!

Facebook Questions as a Strategy – Answering Questions for Your Brand

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

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.

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