How to Leverage GLAM for Brand

February 4, 2020

Wikipedia is well-known as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. Still, experienced marketing professionals and readers of our blog know that this isn’t wholly true. There are limitations in place for Conflict of Interest (COI) editors, whether they are paid contributors or have a close connection to the subject. There is one large exception to this COI prohibition, given to representatives of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM).

 

The GLAM-Wiki initiative was created in 2010 to assist cultural institutions in contributing their unique assets in collaboration with the Wikipedia community. The creation of the role “Wikipedian in Residence (WiR),” allows GLAMs to extend its reach from the physical space to across the world using Wikipedia as a platform.

 

Tapping into the GLAM-Wiki initiative is a great opportunity to reuse and repurpose existing digital and hard assets. Existing corporate archives’ and museums’ images, research, video, audio, or other holdings complement existing Wikipedia articles or can be the basis of new ones. GLAM editors can directly edit articles. However, the COI policy states they should not use this special privilege to promote the institution itself (they should instead focus on the addition of resources). This becomes the perfect opportunity to launch an education stewardship campaign that acts in the service of the institution’s brand. The pilot program launched in 2010 as a collaboration with the British Museum in London. Over the course of one month, the first WiR led an initiative to improve Wikipedia articles via edit-a-thons and create high resolution photos of the museum’s collection. The program targeted the Wikipedia article on the Rosetta Stone after the museum’s website manager examined Wikipedia traffic and realized that “five times as many people go to the [Rosetta Stone] Wikipedia article as to the [British Museum] article.” In a similar program, the digitization of physical assets led to the creation of related articles for the Smithsonian Archives, when their WiR hosted their own edit-a-thon.

 

Targeting article topics that are closely related to the institution allows for a subtle yet pervasive brand presence across Wikipedia. Furthermore, the contribution of unique assets, in addition to the association with other GLAM institutions, creates positive sentiment of the brand as well. Finally, leveraging corporate archives for use on Wikipedia helps justify the spend on the digitization of historical assets. The long-term tangible value of legacy resources versus a 1-off marketing or advertising campaign further reinforces why Wikipedia should be considered as a valuable evergreen platform. It further justifies the potential for the legacy of an institution’s brand to reach across the globe. Wikipedia has over 20 million articles (6 million English language Wikipedia articles) in more than 250 languages. Historical assets can transcend them all.

 

 

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