Friday, September 29, 2006

Corporate Reputation on Wikipedia

Wikipedia - The free enclyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is what brought the concept of wiki's to the mainstream. The long tail of content. A great example of a disruptive business model, that will likely kill most of the current encyclopedia companies. Not necessarily definititive or 100% correct, but most often close enought and at minimum an excellent place to start research on a topic due to the breadth of content. See the statistics.

In reading a blog article today, there was a link to a company website and beside the name there was hyperlink [company name] (wiki) in brackets. This link took me to the wikipedia page for the same company. Not out of the ordinary - I have came across many company pages before in specific searches but it struck me today in seeing this additional secondary link that wikipedia in addition to being an online encyclopedia, is now yet another marketing channel for a company, but in this case it is one that the community controls. As a company you may see this as good or bad, but nonetheless, if you are not already on top of this you need to be. So what should you do?

  • The first thing you will want to do is search your company name to see if there is an entry. If not, it probably makes good marketing to start thinking about creating one before someone else does. Unfortunately, no matter how closely your legal team scrutinizes the content, it could change tomorrow as the community seeks to keep items 'current' or 'correct'.
  • Assign at least one person to manage this new non traditional 'channel' to the consumer. Its not just about making sure there is appropriate and accurate content, you need someone that will immerse themselves in the wiki community and culture that they understand how it works, and can make appropriate recommendations to management when issues arrise. We are in a world of consumer generated and consumer controlled content, and every company needs to understand how to play in this environment.
  • If there is already an entry, you better review the content looking for innacuracies, and possible new content that could be added. Then start contributing and watching the article for changes and especially vandalism.
  • Understand how disputes can be resolved using the community.
  • Consider ways in which this channel can be used to better inform consumers about your company and what it has to offer. For example, what other topics in Wikipedia could or do currently reference your company, and take steps to make these changes.
  • Think about ways to not only watch when content has changed on your company page by external contributors, but what kinds of changes are being made, and what does this say about users perceptions about your company or the brand?
Other considerations or comments welcome!
By the way - this is just the begining of new media channels that companies will need to be aware of. Once you have a person primed in the wiki community, next comes Secondlife, which ads an entirely new dimension of culture and branding.

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