ChaCha, The Tortoise Of Social Search, Keeps Plugging Away

ChaCha, which was one of the early Q&A or social search sites, is something of a survivor. It started out in late 2006 audaciously challenging Google with chat-based human-powered search and then reinvented itself in 2008 as a mobile site, with voice and SMS search. Repeatedly dismissed and even ridiculed it has defied critics and grown to 10 million monthly uniques, double its audience in 2009.

It also developed one of the broadest and most effective marketing platforms (SMS-based) to reach youth and young adults. ChaCha last year integrated with Facebook and started a social network of sorts (ChaCha.me). The site added local deals and coupons. Now the company has relaunched its main site ChaCha.com with new content and functionality.

The new ChaCha.com, which uses HTML5, is more social and offers images and video relevant to queries/questions. There are also new topic pages for browsing. And there are fewer ads (for more share of voice) and greater contextual relevance. There’s also an emphasis on brand advertising. As on Yahoo Answers, users can rate or vote on the best answer to a question.

Whether you use or like ChaCha, what’s impressive about the company is its resilience and persistence, and willingness to creatively try things as it reacts to twists and turns in the economy and the market.

Other Q&A or social search services include (partial list):

  • Aardvark
  • Answers.com
  • Answerbag
  • Ask Q&A
  • Askville/Amazon
  • MerchantCircle Answers
  • Facebook Questions
  • Hunch
  • kgb
  • JustAnswer
  • LinkedIn Answers
  • Quora
  • Yahoo Answers

And at least a dozen more.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search Engines: Help Engines | Search Engines: Social Search Engines

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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