Facebook has added a new feature called Questions, which allows users and pages to ask questions in a format that makes polls more social and creates opportunities for brand content to go viral. The tool also makes it easier to get recommendations from friends and has implications for the future of social commerce.

Facebook Questions are easy to answer like polls, but more compelling because people have the option to add their own responses for others to vote upon. When people answer questions, it shows up on their walls and in their friends’ News Feeds, leading more people to participate and so on.

Last year Facebook tested a different version of Questions that asked people to write full text responses to questions a la Q&A site Quora. But Facebook recognized its users were more interested in opinions than facts and that they preferred clicking to writing. The new Questions should have much higher adoption.

For users it’s an easy and organized way to get thoughts and recommendations from friends. For brands, it’s an additional way to engage with and learn about consumers. And since Facebook pages are tagged in the answer options, it’s a new way for people to find and connect with brands.

Now imagine the possibilities for Questions if/when Facebook releases the API. As with the the Like button and the new comments plugin, Questions will blur the lines between on-Facebook and off-Facebook. For instance, at the end of every news article or blog post, the writer could pose a thought-starting or opinion-polling question. When someone answers that question, it would generate a News Feed story, leading more people to discover the content.

More interesting to ponder: what if you were looking at a pair of Nikes online and had the option to answer, “What do you like best about these shoes?” Or maybe you’re at Niketown and the question pops up on your phone when you scan a pair of sneakers. When you check out, you could be served a question about your service that day. The whole time your answers are being shared with friends to whom your opinions and experiences matter.

Whether used this way or in its simplest form, Facebook Questions is undoubtedly part of the movement toward an economy where our decisions are more influenced by our social networks than traditional advertising. Keep an eye on this.

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