Currently, when I’m looking for answers to my questions on everything from “how to fix my broken printer” to “where should I stay during my trip to Seattle” I instinctively turn to Google. And why not? After all, Google is my quick, aggregated source for all the world’s online answers to all kinds of questions that haven’t even been asked yet. But usually when I search in that way I’m looking for answers to questions that have already been asked…by someone else. I could go to a forum, or jump on Quora, but there’s always a concern that my question would get lost in the mix. And who knows when (or if) someone who actually has the answer to my question will actually respond to me. Furthermore, Google searches, Yahoo! Answers and Quora are all great for more technical questions or how-to’s, but if I need recommendations to a restaurant in my neighborhood or suggestions on the best hotels to book in San Diego, who better to turn to than those in your close personal network?
Enter Facebook Questions
Introduced to the world briefly back in mid-2010, Facebook Questions was a new feature that allowed users to pose questions to the entire Facebook community. Questions posted to all 500+ million Facebook users could be answered by anyone, friends and strangers alike. This feature never quite took off, likely because it lacked the intimate, personalized responses that can only be received from those in your personal network. Since then, Facebook has revamped their Questions and has reintroduced it as a slightly different feature. Now, instead of posing questions to the entire Facebook community, a user’s questions are now directed only to that user’s individual network. The question then appears within the Facebook news feed for any of the friends linked to the asker.
Here is a screenshot of the Question feature on my Facebook page:
From this new section of your Facebook page you can ask two different kinds of questions: open-ended questions or questions with preselected options (polls). Polls allow you to add preselected answers as options for your friends to select from. You can see in the screenshot that I’ve included some local bars and restaurants that friends can choose. Notice that you can even include the option for others to contribute additional answers to your question beyond the options you’ve provided. In addition, once your friend contributes to your question, that same question is then distributed through the responder’s network. Theoretically, an intriguing question has the potential to go viral throughout the greater Facebook community.
Overall, this new feature is great for getting specific feedback and opinions from the people you (presumably) trust the most. If you need to know the best way to change your car’s oil, you might still be better off going through Quora or Yahoo! Answers, but for questions that are less technical and more opinion in nature, it never hurts to have a little help from your friends. This isn’t to say that users couldn’t just post their question in their status update or a standard feed on the wall, but Questions offers a simple platform dedicated to the purpose of polling the community.
How Should Businesses Use Facebook Questions?
A recent study by Likeable Media found that the interaction rate of Facebook users who posed questions on their status updates, were six times more likely to illicit a response from their community than if they had posted a statement. This means that if you are a business with a Facebook page and haven’t been asking question, you need to start…now!
Similar to the way you might ask your group of friends for their opinions on what kind of smartphone you should purchase next, businesses can also use their Facebook pages to poll their fan base. So how would a business take advantage of this? Here are some suggestions on how hotels (and businesses in general) can use this feature:
- Ask customers what their favorite attraction/restaurant/event is within the city. Use this information to generate specials and packages around that attraction.
- Ask customers what is features are most important to them in selecting a hotel.
- Ask the community what “hidden gems” are to be found within the city. Discover new businesses and exciting places that are off the beaten path or less publicized in the city.
- Ask the community what packages they would like to see the hotel offer.
Businesses should already be posing questions to their fan base, but Facebook Questions is great because it provides a specific platform to start interacting and engaging with your community. The tool is there–all you have to do is ask.