facebook questions 7
1497 days ago
 

Guide: Facebook Questions opens up to the world of travel

Seven weeks after Facebook announced the private testing of its Facebook Questions system the doors are now open for everyone to have a go.

The idea is to use the 500 million user base to act as a virtual advice clinic and call centre of the issues as mundane or important as the curious would like.

As previously mentioned, Facebook Questions could become a significant new process by which people obtain tips and advice about destinations and travel products.

Questions can be answered by anyone (risky, as the example below will demonstrate)

So how does it work?

In the same way that users push status updates to their Facebook profile, members can place a question directly into the system from their profile page.

facebook questions 7

For this example the question was: “I’m looking for a great hotel in Rome, can anyone help?”

After sending in the question the system puts the user on a landing page where much of the functionality can be added and where answers will eventually (and hopefully) fly in.

facebook questions 2

The user can do a number of things even after the question is live…

Add a poll:

facebook questions 4

Check out related questions or topics:

facebook questions 5

Or, arguably the most important, send the question directly to people that you think may know the answer – primarily so that users can take a view from what the wider Facebook membership has to say and those in your Facebook circle.

facebook questions 3

There are also some other handy editing tools for the user, including adding a picture. But it is the the person that answers the question who has a lot of room for creativity.

The answer section allows users to add links to external websites (SEO folk: apparently URLs are no-follows), which means that companies as well as individuals can spend time mining Facebook Questions for relevant topics and getting involved.

Nevertheless, complaints around Q&A systems such as these often highlight the lack of quality in some of the answers, as this example illustrates:

facebook questions 6

Very early days for Facebook Questions, but the opportunities are there for individuals and businesses to effectively become helpful sources of travel information to the wider Facebook community (500 million and counting) and friends.

The next logical step is to allow integration of the Facebook Questions tool into company fan pages on Facebook and, as TripAdvisor showed albeit in a different way, onto existing websites.

 
 
Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.

 

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  6. Daniele Beccari

    The concept of tapping into one’s social graph knowledge is obviously a winner: after all, even without this new dedicated functionality, people were already asking questions on their FB feed and getting answers from friends.

    But what would kill this is precisely if it’s open to really everyone…? It gets back to the multiple past attempts to build serious Q&A platforms due to the random zero quality answers.

    If this can be limited to friends, and potentially extended to friends-of-friends (as in “I don’t know the answer but my friend Lisa might know”), then OK.

     
  7. Tamara

    In travel there were several companies trying to make this kind of thing work on Twitter – i.e. searching for all instances on Twitter where a customer was asking for hotel / travel advice and replying with suggestions. We tried it briefly and got a good response but as Karen points out it was too resource heavy to make it profitable.

    I think integration into the fan page will be the thing that changes it for travel companies.

     
  8. Michelle Batten

    Very interesting move by Facebook to harvest the mindshare of their millions of subscribers. Agree with Pete that this feature has the potential to go “gangbusters” if executed properly. In addition to the points he made above, I am also curious to see:

    1. Will Facebook incorporate “Yahoo Answers” feature of the users rating the best answers and being able to “close” a question?

    2. When I enter my question, will Facebook auto perform a keyword search and indicate if the exact or similar question has already been asked in my network, or beyond?

    3. Will brands be able to tag these questions and answer threads to their own brand pages so their fans/followers can benefit from the collective mindshare?

    Definitely interesting application possibilities for travel suppliers, but someone definitely needs to crack the utility angle a little further to ensure it’s long-term relevancy and sustainability.

    @iMediaMichelle

     
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  10. Pete Meyers

    I think this is going to be gangbusters.

    A few things I’m particularly curious about:

    1. How long will it take critical mass to build for users to sort out low value from high value responses via the answer rating tool? Once this happens, it should weed out “try the Vatican while the Pope is on travel” responses (not to question the helpfulness of this advice, of course.)

    2. Will this be a large scale SEO play for FB to attract even more traffic, primarily at the expense of Yahoo Answers, Mahalo, eHow, etc? I expect so…

     
  11. Karen Bryan

    Sounds like it could be extremely time consuming to give accruate,individually tailored answers to every question. This raises issue if decent ROI feasible ie will high enough percentage of those asking questions translate into paying customers or just use it as free information service?

     
 
 

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