Quora Booms, But Will Marketers ‘Follow’?

quoraQuora looks like the early favorite to become the digital darling of the year. But whether it indeed ends up being akin to 2010’s Foursquare – or simply a passing flavor-of-the-month like Chatroulette – remains to be seen.

The Palo Alto, CA-based Web site combines elements of Twitter and Wikipedia to offer a social answering service. Internet viewers can sign up in a matter of seconds with either their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Such users then “follow” one another in a fashion that’s similar to Twitter.

Quora says it’s seen a significant spike in traffic and users in the last two weeks, while it’s been the talk of social media since Tuesday.

Albert Sheu, an engineer at the site, authored the following question earlier this week: “Why did the Quora Website get so slow at the end of December 2010?” And then he launched into an explanation of the service’s traffic and user data patterns. “Late into December, we started seeing a huge increase in signups to Quora,” he wrote. “On December 28th, we saw between 5-10 times more activity on the site than usual.”

Later in the post, Sheu wrote, “On January 3rd, we saw a second wave of user signups, this one twice as big as the one the previous week.”

If Quora cannot sustain that growth, it won’t be due to a lack of recent buzz. Most pundits believe the site – which went into beta one year ago – currently has between 200,000 and 500,000 users. Quora did not respond to an e-mailed information request for this story.

Marketing practitioners will no doubt soon begin wondering how the site could become a promotions vehicle as it eventually looks to monetize. David Spinks, co-founder of BlogDash, has been on Quora since it launched and told ClickZ that many users are businesses professionals who are already attempting to leverage the site to create B2B opportunities. And, he said, the site has B2C potential.

“Consumers have already started to use Quora for feedback on products, restaurants, services, and more,” Spinks said. “A quick search of ‘restaurants in NYC’ will display a number of questions already asked by users. Peer reviews on the social web are powerful as ever, as we’ve seen in how people use Twitter. As Quora grows and reaches the less tech-savvy masses, the B2C value will only grow. This will be especially true if they open up their content to search engines, like they said they would a while back – but still haven’t as far as I know.”

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