Business Info 2.0
With 22 million to 25 million unique users on a monthly basis, Forbes.com is a leading player in the world of online business information -- publishing more than 3,500 articles on any given business day.
And the site is constantly improving. In April, for example, Forbes.com updated its homepage with an easier-to-read design.
Forbes.com also has its feet firmly planted in the new Web world, with a variety of energetic Web 2.0 features scattered throughout the site.
eM+C spoke with Jim Spanfeller, CEO and president of Forbes.com, to get an inside look at this information powerhouse and its marketing initiatives.
eM+C: I understand Forbes.com recently created the Business and Finance Blog Network, which, as of press time, is a community of more than 500 screened business and finance blogs. Why did you decide to start the network?
Jim Spanfeller: The Business and Finance Blog Network provides Forbes.com and the participating blogs an additional source of advertising revenue, while providing advertisers access to hundreds of prescreened, well-lit blogs that are targeted to affluent investors and senior business decision makers.
eM+C: Can you talk about any other interactive Web 2.0 initiatives Forbes.com is involved in?
JS: We have an alerts program, which just over a million people are currently signed up for. With this program, [users] tell us what interests them about literally anything on the site -- any word, any company, any idea -- and every time we write a story about it, we will send an alert either to their cell phones or e-mail inboxes or both, if they so desire.
eM+C: Any other programs?
JS: We also have a thing called an organizational chart wiki, which allows users to [enter] an org chart for any company they'd like -- public or private -- and other people from that particular company or people who do business with that company can add to the org chart. It's a very communal, very "Wisdom of Crowds" type of thing.
We also have a stock-picking community that allows folks to be very transparent about the stocks they are touting and why, and then rank them on how successful they are in their picking of stocks. Then it highlights the most successful people. ... Based on this, [a user] can decide to invest along the same lines of this person or take a counterintuitive approach. It's also a "Wisdom of Crowds" type thing. We also allow users to rate every story and comment on every story.
eM+C: What is the main reason Forbes.com has entered the Web 2.0 world?
JS: Most of our Web 2.0 tools fall into two general buckets. One bucket involves alerting folks to when we publish content that is relative to them as they have described it. In this case, [our tools] help with navigation and getting people to what they want quickly.
The second bucket allows for the exchange of ideas. We have a very intelligent, very informed user base, and we don't pretend to be all-knowing about all things. So our ability to allow our user base to weigh in on all the topics we are covering adds value to all the other users.
eM+C: Can you discus some of the types of interactive marketing you engage in at Forbes.com?
JS: We spend no money on search [engine marketing], but we definitely do optimization. We also do our own e-mail marketing, but we don't buy e-mail lists to market to.
eM+C: Any tips you can offer our readers?
JS: I can give you a more treetop-level thought: Oftentimes, folks think about the new medium in ways that are very similar to the medium they are coming from. For example, a television channel might think about the Web as a way to distribute video. But I think that provides an opportunity for people to be limited in what they produce. The Web is a new environment ... [so] you have to think about [your brand] in an appropriately iterative way for that environment.