What is Education Stewardship? How does a brand benefit?
Content marketing strategy best practices often cite valuable and distributable content as pillars of a successful system. In such systems, the goal is to deliver targeted content to a specific audience in order to convert them into customers. For companies that create products, services, or technologies, marketing and branding teams struggle with how to educate the market. Wikipedia is one of the strongest platforms to accomplish the goal of creating brand association.
Wikipedia presence does not stop with just the company Wikipedia article and the CEO’s Wikipedia biography. Brand presence on Wikipedia can be a great marketing and sales tool because of Wikipedia’s trustworthiness as a content platform. By sharing a Wikipedia URL versus a company URL, the recipient is not “sold to” because the sender is sharing knowledge. We refer to the practice of creating Wikipedia articles or updating existing Wikipedia articles on specific topics as education stewardship. Education stewardship can complement an existing strategy focused on a company article.
Identify Relevant Topics
In “7 Steps of a Wikipedia Strategy” article, steps one and five describe determining macro trends to select the Wikipedia articles that should be included in a Wikipedia program. When it comes to education stewardship, focus on new, emerging, or poorly understood topics relevant to the company's branding objectives. The exercise challenges existing internal goals and biases. For example, when we worked with an industrial manufacturer their branding priority was to educate their market about industrial automation. From a Google search, there was no link to a Wikipedia article on the topic of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Deeper research confirmed Wikipedia lacked an encyclopedic article about it. After polling Wikipedia community members who were active on the Internet of Things (IoT) Wikipedia article, we gained consensus to create the IIoT Wikipedia article.
The IIoT article as of May 28, 2019
Neutral and Succinct Origin Story
Wikipedia articles such as company profiles and biographies should be unbiased and adhere to Wikipedia's neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. But for branding and marketing, remaining unbiased presents its own set of challenges on a Wikipedia article that is not specifically about the company. In fact, it may seem counter-intuitive to mention competitors alongside your company's brand, but the coexistence of the brands on the Wikipedia article legitimizes the topic and associates your company's brand as an innovator in the sector. To mitigate potential promotional slant for the IIoT Wikipedia article, we conducted internal and external research of secondary sources to nurture neutral point of view (NPOV). External research came from journalists and subject matter experts. Covering everything on a topic would naturally be a goal, but on Wikipedia, succinctness empathizes with the reader's attention span. On the IIoT Wikipedia article, the focal points were history, standards and framework, application, and security.
Unique visitor traffic for IIoT since its publishing
Evergreen Content and Wikipedia Sustainability
Media strategy strives for content longevity also known as evergreen content. To achieve that, buy-in and collaboration with Wikipedia's volunteer editors is important. Fostering goodwill and creating relationships with them serves as a nexus for other curious-minded Wikipedians to add new content on that Wikipedia article. Editor activity on a Wikipedia article contributes to the quality and sustainability of the content. Quality Wikipedia content persists for over five years. And because it has strong link authority, Wikipedia typically ranks within Top 5 results in page one Google results.
The IIoT Wikipedia article was published in November 2018 after about one year of research, content development, and community petitioning. Since time of publishing, there have been 26,298 pageviews and 13 active editors. The IIoT Wikipedia article ranks #4 in search results. Siri's voice search cites the IIoT Wikipedia article.
Siri Cites Wikipedia for Industrial Internet of Things
To reach and teach an audience, clever content marketing can stretch beyond webinars, blogs, and videos. The addition of education stewardship into a digital brand strategy program is beneficial because it satisfies multiple goals such as brand visibility, brand association, SEO, and audio branding. Above all, Wikipedia is naturally evergreen. Consequently, the extrinsic (cost) and intrinsic (brand visibility) value of education stewardship inevitably increases over time.