Charles Chu’s got the answers—and used them on Quora to nab 30K newsletter subscribers
If you have a question, Quora has the answer. At its essence, Quora is Q&A platform where users ask, answer, edit and organize user questions—while promoting their own projects or companies in the process. In the past four weeks, one industrious marketing expert put his knowledge to good use to generate 1.5 million views and over 30K subscribers to his newsletter. Posting such prolific figures begs the question: Can I profit from the same growth hacks? The answer is… The answer is yes.
For those of you who aren’t among the 500K registered users or aren’t sure what Quora is, here are the bullet points: Quora was founded in 2009 by former Facebookies Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. D’Angelo and Cheever see the portal as a type of blog in reverse, where questions are asked and answers tend to be as long as blog entries. On Quora, users can follow each other or subscribe to areas of interest, which are then posted in the user feed.
To stand out from the competition initially, the pair invited AOL founder Steve Case and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, to answer questions posted by other users. The strategy helps give the platform a degree of professionalism and authority that the competition lacks.
Pretty good idea, if numbers are your thing: 330 million visits and 1.5 million unique users monthly (source: SimilarWeb). Or how about 140 million? As in the amount of capital received over the course of three investment rounds from Benchmark (holdings in Facebook, Instagram and Ebay) and Tiger Global Management (holding in AirBnB) and others. Not exactly chump change.
Grabbing a spot in the Quora feed
So back to Charles Chu. The young yank (Europeans, achtung—that means American) runs a blog and sends out newsletters, where he waxes poetically about success and gives marketing tips. Through his publishing project he earns some money on the side (through affiliate income via book recommendations); his main job is being a freelancer. But on Quora, Chu manages to stand out and post some impressive numbers: four weeks, 1.5 million views, 30K subscribers.
But how, you ask? Step one: answer questions and thus create content and drum up publicity. Chu does think the process through and has two main objectives: reach as many people as possible and only reach people that figure to be interested in his expertise, in his case marketing. Step two: find areas of interest with huge swaths of followers, e.g. “self-improvement” (approx. 1 million) and “digital marketing” 350K. Users then also have the option of following individual question threads, where answers to ‘followed’ questions are posted to their Quora feed.
In other words: answer questions on high-traffic topics puts you in people’s feeds.
Simultaneously, it is important to rank as high as possible with a given answer. Quora ranks answers based on the number of views and “upvotes,” think Facebook likes. The higher you rank, the better the chances that someone will read your answer. Therefore, the quality of a given post increases the likelihood that an answer will be featured. If one of your answers gets you a spot in the top 1 percent, then the post will remain visible, as question thread lead, for a very long time.
Generate more views with a couple of finely tuned techniques
To give a post views and upvotes, users have to read an answer. One way to boost reads according to Chu is through the use of images. Example: Chu posted one answer without an image, netting him all of one single upvote—in four months. The same answer plus image in four days—1000 upvotes. Chu also says spend time to make sure you start strong. From the very first line of text, be sure that your message is clear, promising some kind of added value, telling a story and underscoring the author’s expertise, e.g. with some kind of statistic
Moving on up
Getting answers to go viral, however, requires the baseline ratio of upvotes. The target ratio here, Chu says, is to maintain over 2 percent of the total views in upvotes. Anything less and Quora will hide your post from users. The best way to get upvotes according to Chu, is by clearly defining your opinion on a polarizing topic, keeping your responses under 250 words, using bold fonts for headers and key words and offering some kind of exclusive value, e.g. your own expertise or personal experience.
If like most users, you are pursuing a different end game, e.g. you want to turn views into clients, you have to redirect users to your own website. Early on, Chu began including a brief descriptor text at the end of his posts with links to his blog. But with a click through rate (CTR) of less than one percent, he had to get creative. Now his posts contain several teasers that hint at what his website offers. When they click a link to his website, readers are redirected to a landing page with an email signup box The practice has earned him more than 30K newsletter subscribers, he says.
Regardless the type of conversion, Quora is especially effective in brand building as it allows users to show off their expertise with clear and concise answers, and thus boost their brand. It’s therefore no wonder that the platform is full of marketers and start-ups. Michael Wolfe, founder and investor (formerly of Benchmark Capital) has answered some 2000 questions, while marketing Midas, Gary Vaynerchuk, has personally penned 55 posts, which have generated over 400K views. It may take a while to post those lofty figures, Chu has certainly showed that there is a blueprint for putting a number on Quora.
At Online Marketing Rockstars Festival 2017, Gary Vaynerchuk figures to net a few more live views. Joining Gary on stage are Facebooks VP Ads and Pages Andrew “Boz” Bosworth and Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson. Network, listen and learn from some of the biggest names in the industry on March 2 & 3 in Hamburg, Germany. Get your ticket to this year’s festival here.