Last week I mentioned how small business owners could use LinkedIn Answers to help them establish expertise in a certain vertical and drive traffic to their Web sites. This week I thought I’d focus on a different site – the Answers section of Business.com.
Business.com Answers is described as a social media Q&A site where business folks looking for products and services can ask for advice and recommendations on a wide range of different subject areas. I think the folks at Business.com offer a really unique outlet for SMB owners. Because all the questions are strictly tied to business concerns, it creates a completely different atmosphere than many of the other Question sites. It also significantly increases the quality of information.
For example, Business.com Senior Manager Erika Kerekes shared the following Answers “success stories” that SMB owners have had at Business.com:
- An employee wonders if she can be fired for staying home to take care of her flu-ridden child. She posts a question on Business.com Answers, and the same day, a labor lawyer specializing in employee rights responds with the details of the Family Medical Leave Act. Peace of mind! Link
- A user in the retail industry asks for a recommendation for retail display accessories. The same day, another user in retail responds, recommending and linking to the supplier they use. Great advice! Link
- We’re seeing lots of “How do I start a” questions from budding entrepreneurs – for example, one user wants to know how to start a pizza restaurant. The Business.com Answers team seeks out the owner of a small California pizza chain and brings his firsthand advice back to the site. Experts on call! Link
I did my own search to test the quality of information on the site (trust no one) and I was actually pretty surprised. A quick search for [Twitter] discovered people asking about the best small businesses using the site, how to use it for marketing, the type of content most retweeted, etc. They were legitimate questions with real business owners chiming in to help one another out. That’s not always the case on a site like Yahoo Answers were often joke and “funny” questions run supreme.
So how can small business owners take advantage of a site like Business.com Answers? Where do you start?
Create an Account
It shouldn’t be too surprising that in order to use the site, you’ll need to register first. Business.com makes this pretty painless and you get a great bio area to include lots of personal information about yourself and your business. The links are all nofollow’d but you may still get some traffic if you can provide answers that make people want to get to know you a bit better.
As an example of a user profile, you can check out Anita Campbell’s. [Disclosure: Anita is a Business.com Expert.] Or, I even created one myself (Lisa Barone) to show you how regular users look.
Answers Questions In Your Niche
You should set aside some time at the end of the day or maybe just a few times a week to peruse the site and offer help to SMB owners when in areas that you feel confident. First, it’s fun and it feels good to help others in your niche. Also, sharing information is one of the best ways to build relationships and make connections in your space. It’s worth noting that because Business.com is a trusted domain, the answers rank fairly well in the search engines. That means if you provide a good answer, you’re going to be the authority for whoever pulls up that listing in their search. It’s a great way to brand yourself as an expert and to drive traffic to your site.
Poll Your Colleagues
Did you know that 80 percent of small businesses are one-man shops and that 50 percent are home-based? In tomorrow’s post I’ll be talking about how small business owners can use outside resources to create that “office environment” they’re missing out on by working from home. And I’ll be talking about sites just like Business.com Answers. The Q&A portion of Business.com offers a great way for SMB owners to virtually pop their heads over the cubicle wall and ask someone a question or gather some input. If you’re not sure about a new piece of software, ask. If you don’t know the best strategy to do X, see if others do. Get involved in the community and create your own mentoring network. I think you’ll really be surprised at the quality of information you receive and the number of people who will offer to help. And because the question pages rank so well in the search engines, you never know who may stumble on it and offer some suggestions.
Drive Traffic To Your Site
If you haven’t given Business.com Answers a shot, it’s definitely one to add to your list. Because it’s a community of professionals, it offers small business owners a rare chance to establish their own expertise, network, and even drive traffic to content.