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On Thursday March 24, 2011 Facebook released an updated version of its Facebook Questions tool. The Questions tool is the latest project by the social network giant. This project has been a year in the making, with initial beta offerings being available only to developers.

Many will compare Facebook’s questions tool to Q&A site, Quora, co-founded by Adam D’ Angelo, former Facebook CTO. The main difference between the two is the connection Facebook gives you to family and friends. LinkedIn offers polls great for  professional or industry related questions, Yahoo! Answers harnesses the power of the web to gather answers on all kinds of topics (with the added bonus of optional anonymity), and Twitter is a network full of people asking and answering questions. Being able to receive answers to questions of  interest is an important tool that social media offers. Facebook has just made it easier and more personally relevant.

“There are a lot of places you can go on the Internet to ask questions of people who you don’t know, but there are very few places you can go to get responses from your friends,” said Adrian Graham, a project manager for Questions. “We thought that this is where we should focus.”

When users ask a question, they have two options: 1.) To create a poll with restricted answers (as shown above) or 2.) Leave it open to any and all answers. The options are useful for different kinds of questions and different forms of information gathering.

Friends can attach sub-comments to other’s original questions. Questions, as it was before, merely referenced isolated pages where friends could respond. Now, Questions can be answered and commented on within newsfeeds and profile pages. Even company pages can use the Questions tool, which, if used optimally, can be a great tool for companies who are looking to harness information from their loyal customers. For example, a restaurant can ask what types of specials their customers would like to see on the menu allowing them to both satisfy and engage their customers.

When a friend participates, the question is also posted to his or her profile page. Hypothetically, a compelling question could spread to every Facebook user in this way. This characteristic greatly increases the social capacity of a Facebook Question.

Have you been using the new Questions tool? Have you been using it for business?  Let us know in the comments below.

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