Seven weeks after Facebook announced the private testing of its Facebook Questions system the doors are now open for everyone to have a go.
The idea is to use the 500 million user base to act as a virtual advice clinic and call centre of the issues as mundane or important as the curious would like.
As previously mentioned, Facebook Questions could become a significant new process by which people obtain tips and advice about destinations and travel products.
Questions can be answered by anyone (risky, as the example below will demonstrate)
So how does it work?
In the same way that users push status updates to their Facebook profile, members can place a question directly into the system from their profile page.
For this example the question was: "I'm looking for a great hotel in Rome, can anyone help?"
After sending in the question the system puts the user on a landing page where much of the functionality can be added and where answers will eventually (and hopefully) fly in.
The user can do a number of things even after the question is live...
Add a poll:
Check out related questions or topics:
Or, arguably the most important, send the question directly to people that you think may know the answer - primarily so that users can take a view from what the wider Facebook membership has to say and those in your Facebook circle.
There are also some other handy editing tools for the user, including adding a picture. But it is the the person that answers the question who has a lot of room for creativity.
The answer section allows users to add links to external websites (SEO folk: apparently URLs are no-follows), which means that companies as well as individuals can spend time mining Facebook Questions for relevant topics and getting involved.
Nevertheless, complaints around Q&A systems such as these often highlight the lack of quality in some of the answers, as this example illustrates:
Very early days for Facebook Questions, but the opportunities are there for individuals and businesses to effectively become helpful sources of travel information to the wider Facebook community (500 million and counting) and friends.
The next logical step is to allow integration of the Facebook Questions tool into company fan pages on Facebook and, as TripAdvisor showed albeit in a different way, onto existing websites.