Facebook Rolls Out User Question and Answer

facebook questions Facebook has started to roll out Facebook Questions whereby users ask a question and answers are provided the entire Facebook community of 500 million users. While still in Beta and currently available to a select set of about 1% of all users, Facebook is promising to have the roll out to all users quickly. Facebook Questions does seem to raise a lot of questions as to privacy, spammers and accuracy of the answers. In the past, Facebook’s privacy policy came under fire for the like and link, interest tags, community pages, etc however, this time, they seem to have done a good job at alerting users that the questions and also answers are public.

Accessing “Ask a Question” on Facebook

The “Ask Question” feature is easily accessed in three main areas:

1. Wall. The wall will have a new menu bar consisting of  Update Status, Ask Question, Add Photos and Post Link. facebook ask questions wallEach menu bar item has its own icon to differentiate and with the Update Status and Ask Question tabs, there is a prompt “What’s on your mind?” and also What do you want to know? Presumably the Add Photos and Post Link will be the same as they have been.

2. Facebook Questions Main Page. The questions main page is accessed via a new tab in the left column under “Friends” that is “Questions”. This brings you to the main page where you can ask a question in the box in the right column.

facebook questions main page

photo credit: Search Engine Land

3. Friends Profile Page. You can also ask a question when you are posting to your friends’ walls via the Ask a Question tab.

How to Ask a Question on Facebook

Asking a question is pretty straight forward as type  in your question and click “Ask Question.” If you are unsure if the question has already been asked, you can perform a search for the question in the search box. This does not mean that you cannot the same question again nor does there seem to be a restriction on how many times you can ask the same question (this may change as there will be abusers). It is important to note that only after the question is posted,  you can some additional features:

1. Tags/Topics. Once you post the question, Facebook automatically tags it for you so that it can be associated with specific topics. These can be edited in the Related Topics section in the right column (This should be beneath the question and could change as still in beta). In the Related Topics section, click Edit and change the tags/topic.

2. Photos. Question related to a photo? You can upload a photo to the question. The neat thing here is that it is displayed as a thumbnail but enlarges when you click on it.

3. Description. Add a description that provides more information about what is contained the photo to assist users in answer. This potentially could eliminate questions to your questions for clarification.

4. Polls. You can add a poll to your question. This comes in handy if you are trying to narrow down say the best pizza in Las Vegas and only want users to chose from 3.

5. Answer Your Own Question or Ask a Friend. As questions are public, anyone that finds the question can answer. If you are looking for your friends to answer (and opted to use this feature instead of asking them on their wall or are unsure if they will see the question when it is posted to your wall), beneath the question, type in their name and it will be posted to their wall. If you to answer your own question (little confused with this option) you can do so as well. Most likely this will be used to clarify something or maybe notifying that you have received the answers that you need?

How to Answer Facebook Questions

Looking to share your $.02 or just curious what people are asking? The Facebook Questions Main Page is where you will be spending your time. The page is again easily accessed from the left column under the new tab “Questions.”  Here you can perform a search search via a topic, check out the related topics that are matched to your interests or if you are really curious, you can click “Everything” from the “Questions About” drop down menu.  You can “follow” the question to be notified via your wall of new activity to the question (whether you answered or not)

There is a prompt to add a link to the answer and with 500 million users …link juice. Sorry, but as tested by Matt McGee at Search Engine Land, the links are no follow.

Facebook Questions Privacy Concerns

Questions and answers are public. Facebook is stressing this as with each menu bar, question and answer there is a warning. Your question and answer is exposed to everyone however access to your profile is still permission based. It is easier to request a connection as if you have not noticed, when you roll over a person’s name a little box pops up to Add as Friend and/or  Send a Message (for those that are your friends, you can send a message to them from this little box). Your name and profile photo are shown in the little box but no other information … until they click and get the page where you only share information with friends, etc. Should you be concerned? Well if you are one that has your interests and liked pages, you are out there already so this is not that much different.

As a marketer, this is a gem. Ask customers and potential customers questions in a confined and searchable arena (posting to the page is to fans and is limited in reach) is yet another means to see what customers like and expect from the brand. Yes, there will be ridiculous answers and so far there is not a flag button of any kind to report people. This could be overrun with spam and turn people away but it is bound to happen with a platform such as this. Facebook has warned that this is not a free advertising/promote yourself feature. It is dedicated to questions and answers however while it is encouraging that they are addressing this up front, it will be interesting to see what does happen when people abuse.

What do you think? A spam zone or is Facebook Questions a step in the right direction. As a consumer, will you ask and answer questions? Will you trust the answers from “strangers?”

photo credit: Balakov