85 percent of brand pages on Wikipedia need improvement

by David King on Jun 14, 2012
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fox-entertainment-group-wikipediaWikipedia articles define our company’s brand, heritage, leadership and culture for the internet.

They’re important.

But Wikipedia has thousands of them and about four million articles in all. According to a new study published today, 90 percent of brand pages on Wikipedia are marked as low or medium priority by the Wikipedia community.

The study analyzes over 2,500 Wikipedia articles on brands to gain insights into the community’s content needs on company articles.

Fox Entertainment Group, LG Corporation, Playtex and the Pepsi Bottling Group are among brand pages marked as important, but also incomplete or low in quality.

One Japan-owned, $200 billion company only has two paragraphs on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is content marketing

Wikipedia editing has been controversial, because it’s open model leaves it vulnerable to companies using it for censorship and advertising, but ethical Wikipedia engagement isn’t that different from any other form of content marketing.

Whether it’s blogging, social media, public relations, whitepapers or the company website, our job is to create great content the reader wants. However, each form of marketing has a unique delivery method, content need, reader-set and other details – as does Wikipedia.

When companies transparently offer great content to Wikipedia’s editorial community, the controversy is gone and we’re left with content marketing. But what are Wikipedia’s content needs?

The findings of the report suggest that:

  • The most common request for improvement on brand pages has to do with providing credible, third-party sources to draw content from. Every company should at least share news articles as sources on the Talk page to make it easier for volunteers to improve the page.
  • For company articles, objectives like heritage, branding and corporate identity are better-aligned with Wikipedia’s content needs, though bigger companies will often have separate Wikipedia articles for products.
  • When trying to correct bias, companies should focus on being reasonable and easy to work with, rather than appealing to the accountability of editors.

Call to action

Most companies underperform on Wikipedia when compared to other marketing channels, creating an opportunity for some marketing executives to greatly outperform their peers and gain a competitive advantage through innovative marketing.

This requires a serious discussion on objectives, priorities and a strategic plan for ethical Wikipedia engagement that’s well-aligned with Wikipedia’s content needs.

It’s my position that sustainable, long-term value with Wikipedia will come from mutually beneficial, transparent collaborations that help Wikipedia achieve its mission of providing free and impartial knowledge. The best way for us to do that is quite simple – provide great content Wikipedia’s readers want to its editors.

Post Author

David King is the founder of Ethical Wiki, a professional services organization that helps companies improve Wikipedia ethically by offering content, requesting corrections and discussing controversies. Learn more at ethicalwiki.com or read our eBook on Wikipedia & marketing....

  • Great insight.  Wikipedia is often overlooked by managers who are overly concerned with owned properties at the expense of the larger online conversation.

  • I am not surprised by this study. As brand manager for a french company when i try some improvment i a am always censured !!
    So you have a lot of mistakes in brand pages. The thrid party source is sometime irrelevant when theres is no content except in corporatewebsite

  • Valerie Deveza

    Totally agree with you on this.  I often visit pages on Wikipedia only to find
    out that information provided about the thing I am looking for is totally incomplete
    or not updated at all.  I guess we should
    not overlook the clout being catered to by Wikipedia. 

  • The REAL problem is that most brands are not able to author or edit their own wikipedia pages.

    Wikipedia page edits are not based on content or content credibility, but how many points an author has from writing other articles. If you are a brand, you’d have to author hundreds to thousands of pages to have enough credit to go in and submit changes to a page.

    Even if a brand created a wikipedia article, another author can come in
    and make changes to it without the brand a) knowing of the change b)
    approving the change c) having the ability to edit the content changes.

    This is a fundamental problem with wikipedia and why it continues to not be considered a credible source for citations.

    The approach of open source content is a great idea. I’ve been a huge proponent of open source since programming in the mid-90s. In my opinion, Wikipedia needs to go one step further and allow brands access to brand pages. Keep the information pages open source, but allow brands to provide their own descriptions and update accordingly.

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  • Chon Marjorie

    Excellent analysis ! I am thankful for the details – Does anyone know if I might be able to locate a blank a form form to use ?