When we think of social media, we automatically assume that we’re talking about major platforms like Facebook or Twitter and because these companies are such big players in the social niche, we sometimes let those platforms cloud the actual definition of ‘social media’.
What is the definition? Well technically Social media is a popular term that refers to a website or application that serves as a home for users who want to network and share content.
So does Quora fit that definition? It does appear to, as all content (questions, answers, comments, videos) on Quora is crowdsourced / peer-to-peer, and Quora does not have any editorialists / staff writers. Social networks are all about community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration, that’s the crux of social media, so, Quora may justifiably claim to be a social media site.
However, it is undeniably different because this content isn’t distributed the same way as those major platforms – like live streaming video, for example. Quora users ask questions, write answers, share ideas and knowledge – so although Quora offers networking and sharing content just like users of Facebook or Twitter, it does it differently. It comes with features that users use to be social with one another, it is obviously used to share information and ideas, and most active users also share personal messages via comments, PMs or both. But its other types of content are hit-and-miss due to the format of the site – Quora is not “free-form” like Facebook or Twitter.
But there’s an intriguing difference between social media and social networking worth mentioning.
Quora comes equipped with social networking elements – users follow each other, give upvotes, post comments and send direct messages. They develop profiles, their answers and comments are written under personal identities and there is a lot of room for personal experience in the way the whole site works. People do develop relationships and pretty much everything can happen on Quora.
Still, Quora is the home for people who are still ‘readers’ rather than browsers. Quora is becoming a social media for social issues and concerns and not about personal issues, personal matters, personal friends and relatives and personal whims and fancies. This gives it a sort of uniqueness in the ever-polarized social media world.
An interesting trend is that people when put into social situations tend to switch from “regular mode” to “networking” as a form of natural behavior. When you communicate with others, regardless of the manner, you’re presented with the prospect of deciding whether you like some of them better than others, or asking yourself what you have in common with them. This often leads to making friendships and networks on the go. Although that is not Quora’s original idea and goal, still any platform which allows you to register, stand, and promote your message – and get responses – is a social media platform, and Quora absolutely fits well into that category.