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Good Questions Make Great Content

It’s OK to not have all the answers. Let’s face it, everything changes so fast, it’s hard to keep up with absolutely everything. Sometimes though we have burning questions that Google can’t solve. What should we do?

Well, as bloggers, a great thing to do is to ask the question and publish the answers.

If you don’t know the answer, it could well be lots of people want to know too. Plus, if you can’t find the answer in Google then you just might have an idea that will bring you regular search traffic if you implement it right. It’s always a good thing to get your audience thinking and involved. Even if their response is “I don’t know, but good question!” :)

Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer, but opinions can create valuable discussions which are still attractive content, thought provoking, community building and good for entertainment and engagement. Just look at Liz’ Open Mike discussions.

The question does not always have to be asked on your blog either. It might be that you know a forum or discussion list with topical experts on board, or it might be that you need to cast your net wide and get the biggest possible response by asking in multiple places.

Here are five ways to get answers outside of comments that jump to mind:

  1. Twitter - For my post about getting the most out of LinkedIn I asked for suggestions on Twitter. Twitter, after my blog, is my go-to place for getting quick answers as I know I will get a response. Of course you need a few followers first!
  2. LinkedIn – I have only asked one question on LinkedIn and just got the one response, but it was a good one. Others have far more success. LinkedIn is chock full of business people, and is probably more appropriate for those kinds of issues, but also those people have lives outside of business so might be worth a try.
  3. Yahoo! Answers - Same kind of deal as LinkedIn answers but wider in audience and more general purpose and more consumer oriented.
  4. A survey/poll – Rather than just ask a question and get responses in comments, surveys and polls can be useful for narrowing the answers for quantitative results as I have done in my blogging survey (still a chance to win a book or blog critique!)
  5. Email – If you know certain people will have the answers you need then email them. If you make it easy and quick to answer you might be surprised at the responses you get. I did this with my Cluetrain Social Media article and is something Jonathan Fields does routinely to great effect.

Make sure you always credit the people who provide answers. Also try to give people credit even if you disagree with what they say, show all sides.

Got any tips to share? Do you ask questions in your blogging? How? Or do you prefer blogs to be about answers? Please share in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Chris,

    Its not fair. I was totally thinking of writing this post over the last week…

    I think the Linked in VS. Yahoo Answers question is an important one that should be fully developed:

    Linked in Advantages:
    a) Expert advice
    b) Ability to connect for networking, affiliation, and perhaps sales.
    I think its fun when folks ask non-traditional questions related to life, faith, and culture–just to spice up the conversation.

    Yahoo Answers Advantages:
    a) Offers some degree of advice–but the quality and connection level are not comparable (9 vs. 7 level of quality)
    b) Ability to link build (drop your links as answers)
    c) Shows up higher in Google (which has advantages for the Answerer)

    Second Issue: Yahoo Answers Vs. Niche Forum Questions:
    I think that for Asking questions that niche forums (if you know the best game in town) especially in the social media, blogging, and seo space would generally have all the advantages of Yahoo Answers.

    Answering questions in Yahoo may work–if your target audience is regular folks and you are outsourcing. Answering questions in niche forums may demonstrate your expertise to industry experts–if you’re looking to get hired. At the end of the day, its probably easier to impress those outside the industry, however.

    I hope all that makes sense…I need to get some sleep.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

  2. Chris,

    Its not fair. I was totally thinking of writing this post over the last week…

    I think the Linked in VS. Yahoo Answers question is an important one that should be fully developed:

    Linked in Advantages:
    a) Expert advice
    b) Ability to connect for networking, affiliation, and perhaps sales.
    I think its fun when folks ask non-traditional questions related to life, faith, and culture–just to spice up the conversation.

    Yahoo Answers Advantages:
    a) Offers some degree of advice–but the quality and connection level are not comparable (9 vs. 7 level of quality)
    b) Ability to link build (drop your links as answers)
    c) Shows up higher in Google (which has advantages for the Answerer)

    Second Issue: Yahoo Answers Vs. Niche Forum Questions:
    I think that for Asking questions that niche forums (if you know the best game in town) especially in the social media, blogging, and seo space would generally have all the advantages of Yahoo Answers.

    Answering questions in Yahoo may work–if your target audience is regular folks and you are outsourcing. Answering questions in niche forums may demonstrate your expertise to industry experts–if you’re looking to get hired. At the end of the day, its probably easier to impress those outside the industry, however.

    I hope all that makes sense…I need to get some sleep.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

  3. Makes perfect sense :) I hadn’t thought of the SEO benefit for the answerer, seems Yahoo! would give two links, once in the yahoo! thread and again on your blog.

  4. Makes perfect sense :) I hadn’t thought of the SEO benefit for the answerer, seems Yahoo! would give two links, once in the yahoo! thread and again on your blog.

  5. It also will add some human touch to your blog, if you show that you are … a human, who doesn’t know everything. As you said a question stimulates response.

    Great tip with ‘linked’ by the way.

    Yours
    John

  6. It also will add some human touch to your blog, if you show that you are … a human, who doesn’t know everything. As you said a question stimulates response.

    Great tip with ‘linked’ by the way.

    Yours
    John