Who Reads Forbes?
icon32.png Posted: 21 Jun 2014 19:47

Aside from today, I can't remember the last time I read an article at Forbes. I don't recall when I stopped, but I can certainly recall why I stopped and this blog will highlight that.

In an attempt to increase the amount of traffic to the Forbes website, Forbes will let anyone post articles to their site. Credentials mean nothing, articulation means nothing, and fact finding means… nothing. The addition of 1000 bloggers to the Forbes website has helped with their visibility, but the quality of their content leaves nothing to be desired. Here is an example:

8 Social Media Advertising Tips To Boost Your ROI

That headline appeared in my newsfeed today under my advertising section. I've seen tons of articles like this, most of them have 1 or 2 good points and I was curious to see how the Forbes article compared. I'll only be hitting on a few criticisms here and if you read the originating article you'll see why, I'd have to spend the better part of the afternoon writing.

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Social media can be a great platform for advertising, but only if you can optimize your ROI. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes.

Wrong, ROI is only one consideration. The fact this claim is made illustrates how little the Forbes contributor understands that which he supposes to write about. Advertising can have many goals, especially tertiary goals to ROI. For example branding. In fact SMM is a very effective tool for branding. But due to the fact that advertising through SMM is primarily push marketing, you will rarely get the same ROI out of it as you would with PPC, for example.

Many companies have reported that using images on Twitter leads to a 150 percent increase in retweets. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes.

There is an assumption here, that assumption is that "retweets increase ROI". Yet there is no evidence provided for the claim. The article that Drew references follows the work of Dan Zarrella over at bufferap.com and at no point in time did he address ROI within the context of this study. Additionally, all of the testing done to measure retweets was done through a single account which means it's far too early to jump to conclusions, much less subscribe this to mean something more than what was measured, like ROI.

Don't misunderstand me, the study is interesting but the only thing measured in this report was the number of clicks, favorites, and retweets, not ROI. Furthermore, the article appeared to be one big advertisement for an app that allows you to more easily add an image to your tweet, this bias cannot easily be overlooked, especially when there was only one test performed, on one account, without alternatives or a control account. And I'm pretty sure that the content of the image has something to do with it too. ;) Sure, that photo of a cat kicking a dog in the face is going to get a lot of retweets, but will it increase ROI? Probably not.

I'll go one step further and say that in terms of time and money, the extra effort put into tweets will probably increase your overall ROI, but can also increase the visibility of your brand. This I base on the fact that generally speaking, SMM is best equipped to help you with branding, not ROI.

Google Authorship is there—use it. If you have a writer cum advertiser who’s built a following, make sure any advertising campaigns are linked to their Google+ profile. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes

That made me chuckle a little. Aside from the obvious editing errors, there is ZERO evidence that using G+ increases ROI. In fact G+ is such a huge failure and turn off to advertisers that Google had to do 2 things in order to get people to use it.

  1. Google forced youtube users to use G+ when leaving comments. To this day the failure of G+ is still spreading to youtube as phrases like "youtube alternative" gain momentum on search engines.
  2. Google kept the nofollow code out of G+ in order to get search engine optimizers to use it in hopes that others would follow. Later on, once Google got all that they could from SEO users, they blocked links by adding the "nofollow" code to them.

While there’s little evidence that Authorship “works,” it’s certainly worth a shot and requires minimal extra efforts. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes

Again, I'm laughing. Drew admits that he has no evidence that this helps ROI, yet he has included it on his list of 8 things that "boost ROI". Every hour is amature hour at Forbes.

Don’t offer what you can’t afford. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes

This is good advice, albeit obvious. But this has nothing at all to do with social media, and everything to do with a sound business model. But I guess that when you have an article with 8 tips, you have to come up with 8 tips, regardless of how relevant they are to the content of the article.

If you have five business social media pages, fist make sure they’re all relevant to you and then make sure they play nicely together. This means no duplicate content ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes

I totally agree with this, but sadly it says nothing about ROI. This is some generic tip I'd expect to see on Yahoo Answers asked by someone unfamiliar with how to use a search engine. If you are going to make the claim that duplicate content on SMM lowers ROI, then you're going to have to prove it, and prove it without assumptions. Despite my partial agreement here, there are others that claim the opposite; that all your SMM should contain the same content, and for a variety of reasons.

Drew does not provide any evidence for how to improve ROI through SMM. If Drew changed the headline to read "8 Social Media Tips" then it would be sound, but then it would also be like the other 30,000+ articles with 8 SMM tips on the web.

The ROI you get out of SMM depends on the market and the venue. For example, if you are a wedding planner, you will find that posting photos of your wedding events on Pinterest can net you a decent ROI. If you own a dance club, then getting your existing fan base to follow you on Twitter can help spread the word, esp when combined with a discount on cover. But if you repair garage doors then you will be hard pressed to get a decent ROI out of any social network. Why? Clubs have a "cool" factor associated with them, garage repair does not.

Oh, and then there was this…

If you are don’t have the resources, or are having difficult getting ROI find a strategic partner makes sense. ~ Drew Hendricks writing for Forbes

This is just laziness and lack of dedication. Not only does this article fail to offer anything unique, but it's easy to identify the signs of a rushed job. This combined with unsubstantiated claims is why I don't turn to Forbes for anything other than a good laugh from time to time. And I'm not trying to beat up on Drew (though I did take a couple of jabs), he's probably just trying to make a dent in the world.