Where are they coming from?
Today someone asked Jason, my fellow HyperArtiste, a “Question” on his personal profile. It was a completely new format to us. Perhaps, we thought, a feature being rolled out to select users?
Jason responded to the Question and saw that many other friends and friends of friends were also sharing their input. He decided to try asking his own Question. A new icon had appeared over his “What’s New?” status bar:
Only after I had answered Jason’s Question did I see the icon appear on my Profile and Newsfeed. It just popped up! Then I could ask my friends a Question. Here is Facebook’s description, if you click on that tiny question mark:
In the Questions set-up you can type in a question of any kind. You can make it open ended (“What’s your favorite band?”) or include options. Jason picked an open-ended question. On the HyperArts Page, we selected a few options and de-selected this box that allows users to add more options:
When Jason went to publish his query, Facebook warned him that this Question would be open to ANY Facebook user, not just his friends.
Then he was also given the option to share his Question with specific friends. He requested that I check out his Question, and I got this email:
I also got a Facebook notification of his invite. His Question showed up in my Newsfeed as well.
I noticed that you can click on one spot to view the results without leaving your current page, or you can click on the date and view the Question on its own separate page.
I could see if any of my friends had responded because their photos show up next to their answers. The blue squares with the “…” represent profiles of people who are NOT your friends.
Also, I could see comments of my friends below, or toggle to the “others” view to see all comments.
So, what if I want to see the Questions that my friends are asking but I am not seeing them in my Newsfeed? There is now a tab in your left-column navigation:
Anatomy of a Question
In the red box, you can see the body of the Question. This is where any pre-determined options will appear, along with options that may have been added by friends.
- Follow this Question: You can follow a Question and presumably receive updates when people respond.
- Ask Friends: If you want to share this Question with specific people, ask them with this button. A menu of all your friends will appear, similar to event invites.
- Posts/Comments: This is another important aspect of Questions. The conversation that can happen as a result of your poll will most likely take place here, in the comments area. You can view comments of your friends or of everyone.
Jason’s question was left open-ended, so many of his friends have added options to the poll. See in the above image that you can click to see the many more options, but the most popular results are displayed by default.
Using Questions for your Page
Pages can also ask Questions. I tried it out on HyperArts and asked this question, “Have you tried Facebook’s new feature, Questions?”
The option to ask a Question shows up above our Page’s status bar, just like on profiles. Now there is also an App link in the left column of the Page:
Clicking there will take you to a tab that displays any Questions that HyperArts has created OR responded to, depending on where you click.
When I view the Question on the HyperArts Page, I can look at the users who have answered and I see a link encouraging me to “add them as a friend.” But if I click “Use Facebook as HyperArts” (learn more about this feature) I only see their name. This is because a Page cannot become anyone’s “friend.” However, if someone answered the Question as their Page, I see a button encouraging me to “Like” their Page:
Once you have asked your Question and received responses, you probably will want to know the results. Sometimes people will ask questions as well, in the comments area. To review the results of your Question for a Page, just click on that Questions app link in your left-column menu. You can then click on the Question itself and see a pop-up window. This includes all comments and the results of your poll:
Note how you can see the total number of votes and comments in one place. But you can also hover over each option to see the number of votes for each one. The level of popularity of each response is indicated by the blue bars, like a graph.
Depending on the type of Question you asked, this could be very valuable information. Much easier to calculate than a simple question asked on your Wall. Before this feature, Page Admins would have to sort through their Wall to read comments on each post. If your Page has a large number of fans, and you are asking a simple yes-or-no question, it might get tedious counting the number of comments from one post!
So now that we have described how Questions works, let’s explore the pros and cons of the new feature.
- This is potentially a great viral feature. For Pages, you can get a lot of visibility from one question if many people answer. Their friends can answer too, increasing your reach.
- You can ask a question with or without options.
- With options, you get a better idea of who likes what more. For example, if you are deciding between 3 bands to go see live, you can ask friends to pick between those 3, rather than have them all list their own favorite concerts.
- This could potentially be a very annoying feature. But like anything new, it will most likely be bad at first and then we will get used to it.
- Anyone can answer the poll. Friends of friends. And their friends. So strangers basically. If you want to ask a private question, do it in your regular old status bar.
- An open-ended question can result in TONS of responses with just 1 vote. But you CAN say “don’t allow people to add options” and users are limited to the answers you have supplied, like multiple choice.
- No URLs allowed in a question! So you cannot really reference an external webpage directly.