Why ask questions thru formspring when you can use Twitter or FB? Btw, I love formspring… just asking.
July 11, 2010
I think what we are learning from the rise of social Q&A sites like Formspring is that this is a distinct category of social behavior. Just like Foursquare shows us that the "checkin" is its own vertical category. And part of what it means to be a distinct vertical is that people prefer a distinct experience or channel for this activity. I expect over time we will see other examples of social verticals. And, having missed Foursquare but gotten into Formspring, I hope to back some more of them!
My simple take on it: organization / management / indexing / consolidation.
1) Formspring makes it easy to organize all the questions in one spot.
2) Having the Q&A’s in spot with a dedicated system means you can actually manage the content despite perhaps having a couple hundred questions & answers. Right now doing that on Twitter or Facebook is reasonably impossible.
3) Formspring is open to search engines, combined with the organization factor and partial identity matching, and you get another large traffic shot (more people visiting = more participation = more Q&A’s = loop).
4) The list of social network / media sites is already impressively long. That’s likely to get a lot bigger over the next five years, with various specializations getting deeper. Most people will be on numerous sites over time. Makes sense to consolidate questions in one spot from numerous social sites.
I’d also add that the social graph on formspring (friends + strangers) is different than that on twitter (business + friends + strangers) and facebook (friends + family + business). This has been purely my experience so far, but folks that ask questions on formspring are people who don’t necessarily know me but have questions about startups or just want to ask something they find funny/interesting.
I’ve found formspring serves a niche of people who have great questions but are nervous about sending an email or have their question tied to their identity, which is the case w/ Twitter and Facebook.
The ability to ask anonymously seems to be the highlight of Formspring but it’s never attracted me. Not sure what the hype is all about.
Its very cumbersome using Twitter to ask questions, especially in less than 140 characters. What if you have a technical or specific query? Add to the fact that when you tweet your question/query its entirely reliant on a follower seeing your tweet while its fresh, otherwise it gets lost in the fray.
With Facebook you can only ask questions to your friends (and only then is it through an update or wall post – FB questions isn’t here, yet), when in reality often times we have questions that require a response from someone we don’t know, perhaps a friend of a friend. I think the personal nature of Facebook also attracts unwanted responses, the jovial kind.
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