Abid Hussain BarlaskarPublished: 20 Nov 2019, 12:00 AM
Social Media

A Dummy's Guide to Quora

Ask Google a question and the top results will almost always have a Quora link. What is this destination of questions?

Quora made big news, here in India, a few days back with the appointment of Gurmit Singh (former managing director of Yahoo!) as general manager for Quora India. We set out to find more about the platform (for the sake of our readers, of course). We began at the usual starting point — Google, and the results that the search engine threw at us were all links to the Quora website, probably because 'quora' itself was a search key. One of the resultant Quora pages features the question 'What is Quora?'. The question was asked by a Quora user and it drew almost 200 answers, all by fellow users.

What is it?

So, Quora is essentially a 'knowledge sharing' platform, meaning, users ask questions on whatever topics they feel like and fellow users (who might be more knowledgeable) respond with explanations and references. Latest reports peg Quora's value at $2 billion and suggest that the company is undergoing its series D round funding to raise $60 million. The platform is accessible both on the desktop and as a smartphone app. Users can sign up by creating a Quora account or continuing with their Google/FB accounts. The new user can opt for various areas of interest from a diverse range of options such as politics, music, science, etc. These choices then help create customised feeds containing questions and answers while featuring native ads.

A Dummy's Guide to Quora

What sort of content does Quora serve and who are the creators?

Questions can be around any topic and anyone can respond. Many a times the respondent could be an expert from a particular field. For example, a user asks a question about an ads on websites and a former GroupM (advertising media company) employee explains. The questions too, are sorted topic-wise. It does have features of a social media platforms and helps create meaningful conversations between strangers unlike the 'friends and family' approach.

How did it come to be?

The company was set up in the US by former Facebook techies Adam D'Angelo and Charlie Cheever in June 2009. It was officially launched as a platform in June 2010. While looking for a name, the duo boiled it down to the following criteria - something that was two syllables long, could be spelt on hearing, wasn't common (to benefit search), started with an unusual letter, ideally something with double Os in it (like Yahoo, Google, Facebook). After going through about 1000 names they eventually settled on Quora. The closest competition was Quiver.

Who else does Quora share the space with?

In the Q&A format domain, the platform competes against websites such as Yahoo! Answers, Answers.com, StackExchange and StackOverflow.

A Dummy's Guide to Quora

Why do people respond?

For now, it seems that knowledge sharing is the key driver. However, Quora does have a pay plan in place — Quora Partners. The partner program was launched in mid-2018 and can only be joined by invitation. Partners ask questions and respond. Questions attracting more traffic from search make more money. It would also depend on the presence of relevant ads on the page.

Quora's presence

Reportedly, Quora has 300 million global users and as per the company's claims, it has 70 million monthly unique visitors in English in India. Website metrics platform, Alexa suggests 38 per cent of Quora's traffic is sourced from India, followed by the US at 24 per cent.

Advertising and monetisation

Advertising is the key revenue stream for the platform. Quora launched its self-serve ad platform in May 2017. Self-serve, meaning the advertisers manage ads and buy space themselves (sans a media agency) via an ad manager on the platform. The native ads are targetted basis the topic a particular question is around and the user's profile. Several Indian brands including State Bank of India, Flipkart, Dell, Samsung, IBM Developer and UpGrad have already advertised on the platform. Brands themselves can run question-led campaigns.

SBI ad on Quora
SBI ad on Quora

In India...

The platform is pushing its presence in Indian languages by expanding presence in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Tamil. After looking into Quora's ops in India single-handedly for almost two years, Gautam Shewakramani (Quora's India country manager) is set to have company. Gurmit Singh, Quora's new general manager for India is tasked with setting up Quora’s first India office and building a team to support businesses in the country and address 'marketers’ needs'. Singh will be working closely with his former Yahoo! colleague Arnie Gullov Singh, Quora's chief revenue officer.