There are a number of Q&A services on the web, but the three that seem to be getting the most attention in the press lately are Formspring, Quora, and VYou. Each service offers the user something a little different, but the underlying principle is that people enjoy asking and answering questions.
Last week I posted my thoughts on Formspring vs. Quora, taking the position that the former has more possibilities for connecting with customers. This week I thought it would be interesting to look at Formspring vs. VYou in the same light.
VYou is a video Q&A service that launched in late October 2010 which Tech Crunch described as “YouTube meets Formspring.” Users record a video response to questions (typed messages) they are asked. Simple as that.
I am always telling anyone who will listen that the Saint Michael’s College bloggers that I work with are the best. Many of them are eager to try out new tools to connect with prospective students. You can see here how Derek Desranleau has creatively integrated VYou with his blog. Another blogger, Christine, made her VYou account available for future students on Facebook.
Gabbi Hall has been an early adopter of both Formspring and YouTube, using the tools to connect with future St. Mike’s students. I asked Gabbi a few questions about her experience.
What has your experience been using VYou and Formspring?
I currently have 52 video responses on VYou on a range of questions from “What are your biggest concerns about the future of journalism?” to “Advice concerning the academic advising process? Is there anything you wish you had known/done?” I started using VYou on November 8th, 2010. I have been using Formspring for about a year now and have answered 218 questions (as of 11-13-2011).
How do you advertise your use of these tools to prospective students?
I advertise Formspring and VYou through Twitter and my personal blog. On twitter, I simply post the link to my pages and say “Feel free to ask questions about anything!” I’ll also include hashtags like #smcvt, #college, #formspring, #vyou, etc. On my blog, however, I embed the code directly into a post or page. For example, I have an “Ask Question About SMC” tab on my page. When a person clicks on it, they can see my smiling face in the “Waiting video,” view previous answers, and ask questions. They never have to leave the blog. I also embed it into posts occasionally in case readers aren’t clicking in the tabs. I try to make it as easy and direct as possible!
Do you see benefits of one service over the other?
Feel free to add anything else Formspring’s got going for it that VYou doesn’t here.
I think the VYou puts a face behind the answers. Prospective students and parents don’t ever have to wonder if there is an admissions member behind the account. There is no denying the genuine nature of the answer when my make-up free, post-workout face is on the screen. Sure, that may not be my most glamorous look, but I also think prospective students don’t want to see perfect, smiling faces all the time.
VYou also allows students to ask questions and get a response like they might on the tour. It is kind of like students can go on the Interactive St. Mike’s Youtube tour and then go to a VYou account to ask their questions. Like Formspring, the ability to maintain anonymity is great!
However, I’d say the biggest problem is that people are not yet familiar with VYou. It’s a new system to figure out and understand. I don’t think prospective students are likely to open their own accounts because it can make someone feel vulnerable putting their face out there. Formspring does allow a user to keep people in the dark by hiding their faces. I do think the upside of Formspring is simply that more people, particularly high school students, are using it. They have accounts, so they are familiar with how it works. It’s already within their comfort zone, just like Facebook. Other than that, I like VYou more.
What would you like to see added to Formspring or VYou?
The one down side to both tools is that there are no statistics aside from the number of responses. I am not able to see how many views my page or the individual responses receive. I’d really like to know what responses have been most useful or popular.