Most higher education marketing professionals are no strangers to the importance of having a strong presence on widely used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, one social media platform that is very much unlike its counterparts is becoming increasingly popular.
Quora is a ‘question and answer’ style social platform that enables its users to both ask and answer questions about a wide range of different topics, presenting a unique opportunity for marketers across the world to connect with prospective students in an organic and interactive way.
Because Quora isn’t widely utilized in the education marketing sphere yet, there has never been a better time for schools to begin using the site strategically to connect with students and increase brand awareness.
Curious to learn more? Keep reading to find out if Quora could be a good fit for your school’s digital marketing efforts.
What is Quora & How Does It Work?
Like many other social media sites, Quora users must create a profile to get started using and posting on the website. Once you’ve signed up, you can browse questions posed by other users, read answers that users have provided to questions, or even ask your own question.
Using the search field, you can search Quora for virtually any topic. If you search for “College and University Admissions”, for example, you’ll see a collection of questions from potential or current students and others about a range of topics like standardized testing, grades, and what schools are best for their needs.
A staggering 132,000 questions have been asked in this category, and nearly 465,000 people follow the topic, presenting a significant potential reach for schools. Better yet, it’s not even the only topic pertaining to higher education. In the screenshot below, the related topics tab shows just a few examples of topics you could use to interact with prospective students.
Many universities and colleges even have an entire topic devoted to their school. If your school doesn’t have its own yet, it may be wise to create one. This is a good option if you aren’t ready to begin to actively use Quora, but want to make sure that you have a presence on the site.
A Growing Question & Answer Platform with Focused Demographics
Understandably, many education marketing professionals don’t have a lot of extra bandwidth to devote to new social media endeavours. So, it’s important to establish just how prevalent a social channel is before taking the leap and investing your time.
Founded in 2009, Quora has experienced steady growth, although it has been slower than many other social media platforms due to the site’s niche nature. According to Quora, the website now gets over 200 million unique visitors every month, surpassing Pinterest and Google Plus, and coming in just shy of LinkedIn. The largest portions of users are from the USA (35%) and India (20%), followed by the UK, Canada, and China, as per Alexa. In addition, Quora states that most of its American users are educated and live in metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts of the USA.
Quora is the 26th most popular website in all of India and many individuals across the country trust the site for reliable and accurate information, making it a potentially ideal social platform for schools looking to increase student recruitment in India.
Where Does Quora Fit Into Your Education Marketing Strategy?
Quora is unique, and therefore shouldn’t be treated like other social media platforms. The structure and specific nature of the site means that you can work towards fulfilling slightly different goals and objectives than those of your traditional social media channels, which are likely to be more about distributing branded content.
Quora content is much less about outright promotion than other social media sites. The platform is dedicated to high quality knowledge sharing, and gives schools the opportunity to answer prospective students’ questions and connect in a more organic way. By maintaining a presence on Quora, schools can:
- Build brand awareness among their target audience
- Troubleshoot potential issues and overcome common barriers to enrolment
- Answer questions in a publicly available space, so others can continue benefiting from the answer
- Demonstrate their expertise on a particular subject
- Foster a helpful, friendly, and approachable online personality
- Drive traffic to their website or other social media accounts.
Yes, you can do all that with Quora! However, it’s very important for schools of all types to tread lightly when using the site. Coming off as too promotional will turn Quora users away, and any wrong step could undo any reputation you have built on the site. However, by being aware of common pitfalls and using a finely tuned strategy, schools can successfully use Quora to really improve their higher ed marketing efforts.
Creating a Quora Profile for Your School’s Education Marketing Efforts
There are two different routes you can take when creating a Quora account for your school. The first is to create a branded profile under your school’s name, and the second is to have your marketing or admissions department members create an account under their name and list their position at the school as a credential which will show up every time they answer a question.
Example: University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics created a branded Quora profile, which includes a headline, short bio, and other credentials.
While branded accounts can be beneficial, reading answers posted from real department members can come off as less promotional and more authentic from a prospective student’s point of view, and help to create a more personalized connection with your school.
Example: Rodrigo Malta, Director of MBA Admissions at McCombs School of Business, uses his Quora account to answer questions about earning an MBA, making his presence known to those interested in the topic and establishing himself as a valuable resource for information.
Rodrigo has only answered three questions using his profile, but his answers have received over 6,400 views. That’s pretty incredible reach, even when compared to traditional social platforms.
This demonstrates the immense value of Quora for schools. Even if you’re answering a single person’s question that’s not necessarily about your school specifically, the potential exposure is massive. Your school’s name will be displayed in your profile headline, which appears with every answer you provide. In addition, if readers like your answer and “Upvote” it, which is similar to a like, it will get bumped higher on the answer results page.
Users will often check out your profile page once you begin answering questions, and you can include links to your school’s social media channels and website in your profile to help drive traffic to your online channels.
Strategies for Establishing Your School’s Presence on Quora
When using Quora as part of your education marketing strategy, there are several important considerations to keep in mind.
The first is to find the right questions to answer that will benefit your marketing efforts. First and foremost, you should always be monitoring your school’s own topic. If potential or current students have questions about admissions requirements, courses, or anything else you can offer information on, you should provide thoughtfully crafted answers as quickly as possible. The sooner you can answer, the better your chances of your answer being seen, upvoted, and bumped to the top of the page where it will receive the most views.
When answering questions on your school’s own topic or questions specifically about your school, it is okay to be slightly direct, as long as you don’t come across as overtly promotional, as this goes against the purpose and highly valued culture of Quora.
Once you’ve got your school’s dedicated topic under control, you can begin browsing Quora for generic questions that you can offer expertise on. The key is to spread awareness by providing helpful and relevant information. When answering, use the 80/20 rule; 80% of the time, don’t mention your school, and 20% of the time, you can mention your school or link to a relevant webpage. This ensures that when Quora users visit your profile, they see that you provide a healthy mix of content and aren’t using the platform solely as a promotional tool.
Example: Elizabeth H. Simmons, a Dean at Michigan State University uses her Quora account to answer questions about grad school, physics studies, and other topics relevant to her experience. In this example, her post received 142 upvotes and 6,200 views. That’s fantastic engagement for a social media post, especially since individuals looking at the answer are likely to be highly educated and genuinely interested in the topic.
Using Quora for Simple Market Research to Improve Your School’s Education Marketing Efforts
Another way that schools can use Quora to their advantage is for simple market research. Have you ever wanted to peek into the minds of prospective students to find out what their concerns, motivations, and questions are? Well, with Quora, you can.
Simply searching the website for questions about your school or relevant subjects can give you a good idea of what your target audience is thinking. You can then use this information to better target your website content, fill gaps in the information provided on your online channels, redefine your student target personas to be more accurate, and more.
Example: In this post, a potential future student is asking for opinions about several Canadian university options for a computer science program. Any school on this list could use this information to gauge what universities prospective students consider to be in competition.
In addition, answers to questions can offer valuable insight into the public’s perception of your school’s brand, its strengths and weaknesses, student life, and more.
So, the question remains: should Quora be a part of your higher education marketing strategy? While only you can determine the bandwidth and capabilities of your marketing departments, if you have even a small amount of time to devote to a new social channel, it’s likely worth the investment. Quora can not only help your school improve its brand awareness and answer important student questions in a public space, it can even provide pertinent and actionable insights into attitudes towards your school.