7 Minutes in Heaven: JJ Abrams Answered Questions on Quora for 7 Minutes

What can you accomplish in seven minutes? When JJ Abrams – director of Super 8 – used Quora for seven minutes to answer questions, the pairing of major Hollywood player and question and answer site turned out to be a match made in heaven.

Quora is a question and answer site that has been at the forefront of social media news throughout late 2010 and early 2011.  With expert question answerers and a moderated community feel, the site has become an essential resource for social media and technology buffs. If you want to know how the crying Foursquare girl was developed, you go to Quora. If you want insider stories about Facebook’s early days, you go to Quora. But, what if you want to ask a major Hollywood director a question? Would you go to Quora then? Until recently, probably not.

However on Friday June 10th, 2011 Abrams appears on Quora for seven minutes to answer questions from fans. In this time, he managed to get four questions answered; they were: What is good advice for teenagers today who want to make and direct movies? How do directors conceive and think through monster and action scenes? What was the biggest creative challenge in creating Super 8? And, what’s it like directing kids?

While the questions themselves weren’t earth shattering, his appearance on Quora is a big deal – particularly for Quora. Abrams – the co-creator of Lost - is a major Hollywood player. Quora has attracted social media and technology buffs, but has yet to pull in big names in arts, culture, and entertainment. So, when Abrams (or more specifically Super 8’s production company Paramount) decided to use Quora has a form of social media outreach, it was an essential, if tiny, step forward for Quora.

And Abrams’ Quora experiment proved useful for all parties involved. For Quora, it gave another high profile expert to add to their roster (even if he only participated for mere minutes). Moreover, Abrams’ participation explored how Quora might be used as part of entertainment marketing strategies. Amy Powell, EVP of interactive marketing and film production at Paramount noted: “We wanted to do something special for the fanboys specifically, and we know that a lot of their interest lies in J.J. himself and how he thinks about projects.”  Because of its specific format, Quora provided an opportunity unlike Twitter, Facebook, or other social media outlets for fans to engage with Super 8.

Or, at least feel like they were engaging. Mark Bodnick – Quora’s CFO– wrote all four questions Abrams answered. Moreover, while Abrams was logged on for seven minutes, it’s more than likely he got the questions days in advance, submitted them for editing to his personal assistant, and wasn’t even aware of the time they’d go live on Quora. It’s actually a pretty good deal for Abrams, and the minimal involvement and time necessary to complete the promotion might encourage other celebs to use Quora as a promotion outlet.

While the 7 minutes likely didn’t impact Super 8’s opening weekend (though it did have the highest North American box office draw with 37 million), it did begin to explore the potential of Quora as a promotional tool. It was, indeed, heavenly.

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