There are a range of “Q&A” services in the market: Yahoo! Answers, kgb, ChaCha, Quora, Aardvark (Google) and several others. Yellow Pages Group (Canada) and SuperMedia offer variations on this idea in the yellow pages segment.
Now Facebook is about to launch a Q&A service and it’s taking “applications” for beta testers:
We at Facebook are preparing to launch a brand new product to the world. We think it will be as exciting as Facebook Photos and Facebook Events, but we need your help to make it great.
As a beta tester, your job will be to ask great questions and provide great answers about your favorite topics. Economics? Skydiving? Relationships? Mexican Restaurants? It’s up to you. You’ll be the first person outside of Facebook to use this product. Your expert writing will be seen by tens of millions of people — including job recruiters. And we’ll bring our best beta testers out to California to tour Facebook headquarters and meet the team.
The intent is to tap Facebook’s massive global user base for answers to a range of questions that are very broad in scope:
We don’t know exactly how the service will operate, but it has clear local/LBS potential. Many people today ask questions of their networks on Facebook: “Does anybody know a great X?”
A structured, searchable service that provides responses in near real time could become a very potent way to get (local) information and recommendations. Could is the operative word here, until we see how it works.
There are a number ways in which Facebook is poised to become a real force in local for both consumers and small businesses marketers. This is just one.