Excuse me, do you know...?

The answers are out there…

One of the best things about social networks is the ability to tap into their ‘hive minds’ – to use them in place of the likes of Google to get answers to questions and queries you may have. From real people. Indeed, it’s one of the most affirming aspects of social media – people love to help others.

Of course, every network differs in not only the type of question it is best placed to answer, but the audience it is likelly to reach.

Here’s how to use the most popular networks to get your own questions answered.

Twitter

Whether your questions is about the best local plumber in your area; or a technical query about something obscure, Twitter is remarkably effective as a means of getting answers.

Of course, the more followers you have, the more likely your question is to be seen, but smart use of hashtags and a retweet or two to influential people on your follow list can reap dividends.

Twitter is characterised by its short timespan of tweets – so, if your question hasn’t been answered within a couple of hours, chances are it’s not going to be. However, with the sheer number of people worldwide online at any one time, your question may well find itself in front of someone only too happy to help.

LinkedIn

If your question is a professional or technical one, LinkedIn Answers is a superb place to pose it. LinkedIn members love to be seen as experts in their field: and what better way to prove that than to be recognised as provider of a ‘top answer’ to a question. And unlike the other networks mentioned here, you are practically guaranteed to get an answer – and very likely a detailed one containing links to supporting websites and information at that.

Facebook

In Facebook, you have two avenues to follow to get your question answered. On your personal profile, where your question will be seen by your friends and family, it’s probably best to ask something related to your life, area or interests. Although it’s possible your question will get shared, the number of people who will see it is limited by your number of friends. Although, like the other networks, your friends will love to help if they can…

On your Facebook business page, the first thing to ask yourself is whether that’s an appropriate place to ask a question in the first place. People probably didn’t follow you to be bombarded with queries, and – whilst an occasional poll or invitation to provide feedback on your product or service is acceptable – using your business page to ask if there’s anything exciting happening in town at the weekend probably isn’t too wise.

As such, Facebook is probably the least effective of the social networks when it comes to getting your questions answered – but if they are truly social queries, then it has its place.

Quora

Quora created quite a stir when it launched. Like a cross between LinkedIn Answers, Wikipedia and Reddit, it allows users to post and answer questions; and to edit responses and vote up the ones they feel are best.

Although it has not become mainstream, it still has an active worldwide community, and is a good place to get questions of any type answered.

…and many more

Yahoo Answers, the wiki-like Answers and online forums and groups across the web are all full of people only too happy to help.

And of course, if all else fails and your question remains unanswered, you can always just >Google it…


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