Facebook’s New Q&A Feature: Ask A Question (what’s good and what could be improved)

Facebook's new Answers Function
This is what Questions looks like in your news feed

If you’re not addicted to Twitter you may have missed this bit of news: Facebook launched its new Questions feature. Check out Caroline McCarthy’s write up in CNet about its functionality both for consumer and brand use.

I’ve played around with the service a bit and it’s still pretty beta. Some of the main benefits I can see are:

  • By making a question and answer public it spans beyond just a brand page, or an individual’s page. you have the potential to reach ANYONE who has an interest in a particular topic
  • You have the ability to poll your audience in somewhat more organized way. See the list below on areas for improvement 🙂
  • I noticed that when you’re looking at the answer thread, Facebook displays what your relationships are to the people who have provided responses. It’s like a weighting system for trust. if i’m friends with a person, there’s a high likelihood that I will trust their answer. That’s something Yahoo! Answers just doesn’t provide
  • Aggregating questions by categories could be a boon for Facebook, taking it into the realms of wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers and the like. Essentially FB could become more than just a place to see what’s going on with your friends or favorite brands, it could be a knowledge resource for all things.

Now, for the areas of improvement:

  • To make this truly useful for brands, you’d need to be able to glean data about the people who have answered. Sure you can assume that your sample size is the entirety of your fans, but that’s not realistic because usually only a small percentage are actually engaging. We want to know demographic information, potential interaction history with the page (what things are these people interested in), we want graphs and charts…you know all the things that you’d get from a real market research firm
  • a way to syndicate the question off site. Now this may be possible already with Facebook connect and I just haven’t tried it, but it would be great to offer Questions, say, in a blog post, or a product page, and then have people’s answers be run through Facebook and spit out the same data I outlined above
  • Facebook currently has the call to action already shown in your feed (see image above) but what’s really interesting are the responses, and currently it’s not clear where to access all these Q&A threads. They may already be working on it, but some kind of contextual advertising would be great. IE if a user is typing in a question on their personal status update, maybe answers auto suggests a thread for them to check out?

These are just my personal ramblings, but I’d be interested to hear what you think the possibilities/areas for improvement are for this new Facebook feature. Sound off in the comments.

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