A once-little known site used only by new media geeks, Quora has quickly risen to be the new “Google” for getting dynamic answers to a multitude of questions. Just as Wikipedia began with a place for answering questions, Quora has become the place for asking them. Quickly toppling over once popular “Yahoo Questions,” Quora attracts a more well-rounded assortment of users to field questions and answers.

With over 200,000 monthly visitors (per Fortune Magazine), it’s now the official online destination to get informed on just about any topic you can image. Quora boasts 7 reasons why you should be using it and how to apply it to your marketing needs:

  1. Information: Public access to curated knowledge that can be reused by anyone.
    Marketing Application: Target questions in your field to demonstrate your industry knowledge. You can also see what questions people are coming up with to get an idea for any industry gaps. Ask yourself, “What do people want to know about? How can you fill this need?”
  2. Collaboration: Each question/answer combo is the result of collaborative efforts by users (a lot like Wikipedia).
    Marketing Application: Use collaborated answers to boost your own knowledge. Collaborated content will teach you something new, highlight competition and help you curate fresh blog or article content.
  3. Ratings: Best-rated answers move to the top (like Yahoo Answers).
    Marketing Application: If you suffer in understanding how to factor in sales with marketing, study top answers. Top answers usually made it there because they’re thorough yet precise. Learn what type of language and context gets user-approved boosts.
  4. Organization: Content remains organized since each question has a set of attached topics, which makes it easy to field questions.
    Marketing Application: Use this in conjunction with the recommendation on leveraging content ideas.
  5. Tracking: Targeted question tracking capabilities let you know when new content is up.
    Marketing Application: Use this to stay updated on what’s new. This is more than just a Google Alert or a find off of social media. It’s about being a fly on the wall to conversations that real people are having, which is of tremendous value to any marketing department.
  6. Profile: Since each question is linked back to a person, you can create better connections and track individual users.
    Marketing Application: In addition to scooping the competition, you can boost your own profile by answering field-related questions consistently…which helps foster the idea that you’re an authority and a thought leader.

In addition to the ideas above, you can use Quora to search for ideas on what topics to base webinars, presentations and white papers on. You can ensure that your content is relevant to the real needs and questions people have.

You can also be on the receiving end by asking questions you’ve had answers to. Learning from others and creating lines of communication is key to successfully harnessing Quora for your own needs.

Quora is yet another example of the unyielding trend of community and social currency. A lot of small businesses have been reserved about getting on the social media bandwagon, but the rise in social platforms that go leaps and bounds beyond just conventional media strongly demonstrates that business owners who aren’t getting on board are losing out.

If you’re not interested in and engaging with your community, you might as well be conducting business in the Dark Ages. Your business relevancy is heavily dependent on your social value, and Quora is another important stone in that road.