As someone who entered agency life from a newspaper/web producer/web developer background, this makes me smile. I believe we're in the early stages of a whole new wave of content creation and sharing. This new wave is powered by tools that will serve those with valuable insights very well, enabling them to cultivate ambassadors for thought leadership.
The tools to which I'm referring -- Quora and Tumblr and Google's social search -- are all relatively new, and combine for a truly powerful way to connect relevant content to an audience that's becoming more sophisticated about how to manage the information overload they're experiencing every day.
What is Quora?
Started in the summer of 2009, Quora describes itself as "a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it." Quora is intended to be a site with ongoing engagement, where users can follow topics as well as other users, and where sharing of content is encouraged.
What is Tumblr?
Tumblr is a simplified blogging platform that pulls in some of the best attributes of Twitter (publicly posted content, following others and reposting content), Facebook (easily posting text, images, video, links and more, and sharing with your network) and Wordpress (configurability, no character limits). Put another way, Tumblr can take your blogging from 0-60 in terms of finding an audience in a way that no blogging platform before it can match.
What is Google Social Search?
When someone you're connected to via Gmail or Twitter has shared a link, Google will now reference that in its search results. If you choose to view "social" results on a Google search, it will display only links shared by those you're connected to.
Putting it all together
Okay, enough pontificating and background. Here's how I see this all coming together in a few easy steps.
Step 1: Create accounts on Quora.com (using your organization's Twitter account, if possible) and Tumblr.com for your organization. If you are using a WordPress blog, you can install a plugin that automatically cross-posts your WordPress posts into Tumblr. This effectively enables you to post once and reach two different audiences.
Step 2: Make a list of five targeted topics your organization is well-equipped to answer.
Step 3: Go to Quora and search for those topics. You will likely see a few open questions, which means you have first crack at being a hero to someone. Feel free to reference / link to existing content on your site, but make sure to explain the link and make sure it's relevant to the question at hand. If there's a question about a specific medical condition, don't simply link to your hospital's department that treats it, link to specific content that answers the question, for example.
Step 4: Quora enables you to post your answers directly to WordPress and Tumblr. Post your answer to your existing WordPress blog (if you have one) and to Tumblr if you don't. (If configured properly, your WordPress blog will automatically send the post to Tumblr.)
Step 5: Use the "Share Topic" functionality in Quora to Tweet this question (and your answer) to your organization's Twitter followers.
Step 6: You can choose to receive emails when people comment, vote on, remove, suggest edits to, or when a moderator edits your answer. Keep tabs on your answers, and engage with others should new answers arrive or questions come in about your post. While such engagement might be seen as an added burden to busy marketers, it serves as the toll charge for being able to effectively leverage tools that put your organization's thought leadership directly in front of those who are craving it the most.
One of the best things about Quora is how well it is SEO'd. That, coupled with its deeply integrated social connectivity, makes answered questions on Quora supremely likely to be at the top of Google search results.
I hope this helps you to begin to see the power of what new services like Quora and Tumblr can provide. One of the challenges for any healthcare marketer, be it a hospital, a pharma company or a non-profit organization, is that much of its best expertise has a relatively targeted audience. Fortunately, with the emergence of more and more tools that focus on connection and curation as much as content creation, the prognosis for leveraging these audiences to reach a wider audience is looking better every day.