Facebook “Questions”

Facebook is set to make its first foray into the search field. The tremendously popular social networking site boasted having 500 million users last week, and their new feature will allow users to 

ask questions from fellow users.  Will “Questions” pose a threat to search giant Google or smaller Yahoo? And will it change the way we approach SEO?

The premise behind Questions is that Facebook users can ask their peers questions, seek advice, or find suggestions for products or services.  This is hardly a groundbreaking idea: Yahoo Answers has done this for years, allowing a community of people to answer each others’ questions.  The difference, though, is that community is some 500 million people strong.  This is likely to decrease the popularity and page views of Yahoo Answers and similar sites.

Questions is in its beta phase, and Facebook tells it users via its official blog, “you can get a broader set of answers and learn valuable information from people knowledgeable on a range of topics.” If you were going to visit New York City, for instance, you might ask the Facebook community what the best place to eat is.  What the best budget hotel to stay in is, what attractions are most worth your while and how much they cost.

The new application also allows you to attach photos or a poll with your question.  This might be useful, according to Facebook, if you have an unusual flower growing in your backyard and want information on it.  There are bound to be horticulturalist – professional and amateur – on Facebook’s vast network that would love to tell you all about it.  You can also tag your queries by category, such as flowers or gardening, to help people who might know your answer find your question.  You can also see what other people are asking about this subject, or any other in which you may be interested.

The feature will be available on the home page under the tab, “Ask a Question.” Questions taps into the growing demand for human-generated answers and specific information that would require a great deal of browsing to answer.  It also taps into the desire that people have to share their knowledge. With 500 million people at your disposal, that is a vast store of knowledge indeed.

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