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How to Run a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon to Gain Brand Exposure

source: Wikimedia Commons

Since its inception in 2001, Wikipedia, better known as the “sum of all human knowledge”, has become the go-to resource for information about almost any topic, person, event, or company. Academic institutions have begun to allow students to cite the verifiable references from Wikipedia articles. The next generation of employees, investors, and customers will be native users because by habit they will go to Wikipedia to find information.

Defining a winning digital content strategy is the Wild West. The secret to success is mining topics that fit the company's market and product categories also known as a topic cluster. For example:

Topic: Insurance

  • Property insurance

  • Home insurance

  • Cyber insurance‎

For companies that are market leading innovators, they already have a responsibility to provide accurate information about their products. Yet they still struggle with how and where to capture attention while also being informative. One component of a comprehensive Wikipedia program is an edit-a-thon.

What is an edit-a-thon?

A Wikipedia edit-a-thon is endorsed by the Wikimedia Foundation but hosted independently. Typically hosted on weekends, edit-a-thons range from several hours to all-day events. They can take place at a physical space, or as a coordinated online effort. The intent is to bring together the Wikipedia community, academia, and companies and organizations to improve the accuracy and quality of information on Wikipedia. The event comprises of participants focused on improving Wikipedia articles based on agreed upon topics. The participants can be from the Wikipedia community as well as the hosting organization. Having experienced Wikipedia editors at the event help participants navigate the site while also ensuring quality improvements to Wikipedia.

source: Wikimedia Commons

In March 2018, Adweek reported Grindr partnered with Wikimedia New York City to host an edit-a-thon at SXSW (South by Southwest), with the intent to invite Austin residents and visitors, alongside Internet users, to edit and supplement LGBTQ content on Wikipedia. The 5- hour event attracted 50 onsite participants (and more online), resulting in over 500 edits across Wikipedia. While the quantitative aspects of the event are impressive, there are further benefits to be gained from hosting an edit-a-thon:

Employee Team Building and Community Service

Edit-a-thons are an opportunity to bring teams together and practice internal and external collaboration. Employees who attend edit-a-thons or organizations that sponsor an event show their enthusiasm for collaboration.

Community Goodwill

Edit-a-thons demonstrate a genuine interest to be involved in both online and onsite Wikipedia communities. The event enriches relationships with the local community.

Company-wide Impact

Cross-functional teams in community relations, branding, and product marketing learn about how the world uses Wikipedia. As participants at an edit-a-thon, they gain firsthand experience on the real impact Wikipedia has on education, perception, and decision making. Press release, social media, and other forms of promotion attract media and public attention because an edit-a-thon is distinctively unique.

Sharing Knowledge

“Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.” - Wikimedia Foundation Vision Statement

Organizations that join and/or sponsor ongoing edit-a-thons demonstrate their commitment to education and knowledge. Ongoing participation nurtures the sustainability of Wikipedia - celebrating its 18th Anniversary in January 2019.

Ultimately, everyone involved wins. Hosting a successful Wikipedia edit-a-thon demonstrates good faith towards Wikipedia and its community, enriches relationships with employees and community members while also improving a specific cluster of topics relevant to the company brand.


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