Scientists and academics have been engaging in a new trend of dedicating a set number of monthly or yearly hours to answering crowdsourced questions on their areas of expertise. The movement was established on moral grounds, rooted in giving back to the community and doing it in the simplest way possible: by sharing valuable information unique to sought after thought leaders.

Why Crowdsourcing Questions Works

Crowdsourcing has been around since about 1999, thought it arguably gained popularity with the social web and sites like Stack Exchange, All Our Ideas and Quora – all definitive social destinations to get questions answered by a pool of relatively well-informed people. The model isn’t perfect but it does demonstrate the power of crowdsourced intelligence.

Committing hours to open call questions is one of the better ideas stemming from crowdsourced platforms. Taking this up offers a lot of advantages including:

1) Increasing Thought Leadership

Leverage yourself and your company as an industry leader, and ideally a thought leader that offers valuable, sought after and competitive ideas.

2) Protecting Your Time and Ideas

No matter what your industry, there are always information freeloaders that want your expertise (or consultation) without compensating your for it. Directing them to your new monthly crowdsourced question/answer session helps politely shake off these information leeches. They’re offered an accommodated solution but you’re getting something in return and on your terms.

3) Gaining Direct Accessing to Your Core Audience

Reaching out also gets you direct access to your audience base. Find out what they’re curious about or need help with. Understanding this will help you better define your business and come up with new lucrative ideas based on rich (and free) cultivated research.

How to Get Started with Question/Answer Sessions

First define your parameters. Decide how long your campaign will last. Will it last a year or a couple months? Will you offer a set number of hours per year or per month? How many hours of answering questions are you willing to commit to?

Next, choose the type of questions you’ll accept. In short, you’ll be letting others know what your expertise is in and what subjects they can choose from. Keep in mind that as you gain more recognition, the range of questions will be stretched. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to every question. Answer what you can and research what you can’t. When you arrive at a point where people are asking you questions outside of your parameters, you know you’re well on your way to becoming a thought leader.

And finally, consider how you’ll accept and answer the questions. Will it be in tweet form once a week where questions can be directed to you within set time frames one day a week or one time during the month? How about questions posted on your Facebook page? Will questions be submitted via email? Will they be replied to as a video?

How you decide to go about soliciting and sharing should reflect your goals. If you want more Twitter followers, then go the Twitter route. If you want more YouTube followers, then create video answers. For increased Facebook following, simply share your answers on Facebook. Note that Facebook is also the best way to create a dialogue among your audience base.

Once you’ve decide the how and what, create a press release and a visual infographic that gets the word out. You should be sharing these routinely to remind people what you’re offering. If you’re just starting out, you’ll have to work harder, but if you’re already a thought leader then chances are you’re also already facing a list of questions. If the latter scenario applies to you and your business, making it official that you’ll be answering questions only boosts your profile and appeal.