In December 2010, Quora – the question and answer website created by Facebook Alumni Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever – exploded onto the social web scene, creating buzz across tech, entertainment, and news blogs alike. While there has been a lot of discussion about the rise of Quora, up until now, there have only been a small number of reports and statistical data on the subject. However, Experian Hitwise has released a new report which focuses on statistics regarding Quora. Not only does the report give more concrete figures to help understand and analyze Quora’s growth, it also begins to reveal who has been visiting the site.
In January, the number of hits Quora received nearly tripled from previous months. This is likely due to the considerable coverage Quora received from technology news websites. This coverage didn’t just report on Quora, it also piqued interest of readers, who chose to further investigate Quora on their own by doing searches. These searches have significantly benefitted Quora; a large portion of its traffic over the last six months has been generated by searches For example, last week, 49% of Quora’s visits were generated from searches. However, the force of searches isn’t the only factor fuelling Quora’s growth. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have also been key. Through utilizing all three sites, Quora users are able to share questions and answers among their networks, which, in turn attracts more users.
It’s clear, then, that Quora has continued to grow during early 2011, but who makes up their primary audience? According to Experian Hitwise, a large share of Quora’s audience is college-educated professionals. This is complemented by students who near graduation and are poised to join the professional work force after graduation. As such, the largest segments currently visiting Quora are from Major University Towns, made up of students and young adults primarily under the age of 35.
These statistics confirm one aspect of Quora’s growth while raising new questions about another. On the one hand, Hitwise’s report confirms that Quora continues to grow; this suggests that Quora is not just riding the coat tails of buzz from late 2010. This bodes well for Quora’s future as it will need to continue to attract new users in order to establish itself as a legitimate social networking site with the staying power to outlast web-hype.
However, in order to truly establish itself as a successful site and brand, Quora will need to reach beyond its current user base, expanding to include a larger number of users over 35. The diversity of users is, perhaps more than any other factor, a key indicator of a social network’s success. Attracting a consistent user base of regardless of age group is a monumental; however, because the under 35 demographic is more likely to experiment with, understand, and get excited about new technology, they are not always the most important users when considering the potential longevity of a site. So, Quora has a new question to answer: now that it’s moving beyond the initial hype, how will Quora reach out to a more diverse user base?