Quora is a forum where anyone can ask a question and those with decent opinions and/or subject matter expertise can chime in with an answer.

Other users and readers then can upvote or downvote answers, such that (in theory) the best and most authoritative answer(s) are pushed to the top.

Earlier this month, I answered the following question on Quora:

“Why doesn’t Nicolas Cage give up and retire?”

I was shocked when it went viral.

Less than two weeks later, it had received more than 2,400 upvotes, 33 comments, and more than 305,000 views. I am also now listed as a “Most-Viewed Writer” in the “Movies” category.

7 Ways to Build Your Brand on Quora

Here’s seven ways you can duplicate my success and best use Quora to build your personal brand:

1) Include a profile picture and a profile description

As with everything else on the internet and in social media, authenticity sells.

People want to hear from real people, not anonymous strangers who might just as well be bots.

Just as you should never leave your Twitter pic as the default (and anonymous) egg, your answers on Quora gain credibility if you briefly explain who you are and why we should listen to you on this topic.

2) Vary your profile description by topic

Quora allows you to pre-select areas of expertise and then customize a brief one-liner that describes your qualifications in that subject.

I’m a PR and marketing consultant. That is entirely separate from my love of movies. Thus, my listed credentials for answering film-related questions are totally different from those for when I answer marketing questions.

Put another way, my listed qualifications for my opinion on Nic Cage? “I have watched and critiqued hundreds of movies.”

That I hold an MBA? Work in PR? Totally irrelevant. So I left those parts out.

3) Pick a popular topic

Tons of people love movies; even more are fascinated by fame and celebrities.

For good or ill, far more people are interested in gossip about Nic Cage than say, how to pitch an editor at Buzzfeed.

So if you are interested in maximizing your views on Quora, stick with questions in broad, popular topics with lots of followers.

These include:

  • Business (8.1 million followers)
  • Entrepreneurship (1.7 million followers)
  • Movies (8.4 million followers)
  • Marketing (3.4 million followers)
  • Self-Improvement (737,000 followers)
  • Love (508,000 followers)

The added element of these topics being very popular with users is that questions in these categories will typically have lots of answers, so while it may be harder for your answer to rise to the top, the pay-off for success is far higher.

4) Include at least one photo

Humans are visual. Appeal to their senses. Research shows that image-heavy answers receive more upvotes than those without images.

5) Write a few paragraphs – but not too many

The point of Quora is to demonstrate your authority and to educate others.

Thus, longer, more in-depth answers tend to get more upvotes than one- or two-sentence snippets.

Further, if your answer is too short, off-topic, or needlessly duplicative of previous answers, it will be hidden – relegated to the trash bin of “Collapsed Answers” at the bottom.

Conversely, however, don’t write a book just for the sake of it. We live in an ADD age where brevity is rewarded.

My answer, for instance, at 226 words is the third-longest and yet has the most views, despite being several months newer than the previous answers.

6) Leverage timing

Quora, as with most social media sites, rewards freshness, with newer answers more likely to appear in users’ feeds than older ones.

In addition, I discovered the Nic Cage question because it appeared in my daily digest email – by answering it early that morning, my answer now showed up for anyone else who saw the question in their own daily digest email.

It’s as if I was able to add a last minute question to a poll that I knew had already been distributed to some 10,000 people but before they saw it.

7) Ask great questions

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers” – Voltaire

An overlooked way to gain exposure on Quora is by asking insightful questions, especially those that will strike an emotional chord with people and/or receive many responses.

That Nicolas Cage question above? The original poster received over 100,000 views on his question in the first month, and that was before my entry garnered another 300,000 views.

Further, since tens of thousands of questions have already been asked (and answered) on Quora, coming up with an original one is difficult, thus an easy way to get noticed.

Conclusion

Aside from being a fun place to learn about a myriad of topics from some of the best experts on the planet, Quora can also demonstrate your subject matter expertise, build your digital credibility, and elevate your personal brand.