I spent tonight at the World Affairs Council here in San Franciso listening to Jay Walsh, Head of Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation, talk about his organization. The talk was titled: “A New Model for Global Collaboration”, and it was a deep dive into the history and size of the Wikimedia Foundation. What I really want to talk about is what brands can get from wikis in general, as well as from Wikipedia, but here are the basic numbers from his presentation:
- 275 languages
- 340M unique visitors in a month
- 100,000 volunteers (about 10% who contribute more than 100 edits a month)
- 5th largest site globally according to ComScore (after Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook)… and it’s a non-profit
- Over a 1B edits since Wikipedia got started in 2001
What I think is really interesting is the total number of languages that are covered across the various Wikipedia sites as well as the sheer volume of the articles and edits. We are not talking about straight translations of the English site, but rather unique versions on the same topic area. A simple search of “Nintendo” in both Spanish and English will show that there are differences in both entries, and as Nintendo there is a lot you could learn about cultural and political biases or preferences by looking through these entries. Collaboration tools like wikis across languages can help brands get a very focused idea about what a “neutral” point-of-view believes.
For large global brands like Nintendo, Coca Cola or Sony, organizations can begin to make observations across countries, languages and cultures as they look to bring products or services to new markets. Jay presented a number of studies where Wikipedia in certain languages were broken up based on the type of content that they searched as well as the countries that searched within specific languages. Undoubtedly, a corporation like Procter & Gamble or Pepsi could conduct similar types of studies on a more granular level. Here are a few of the examples that the Wikimedia Foundation have put together from a macro-persepctive.
To take my Nintendo example one step further, the organization could look at how the company and its competitors are percieved across continents and languages. Differences in opinions across games, genres, etc. could result in better content development and marketing campaigns. Console decisions and strategy could be tweaked based on what certain groups look for out of gaming. We are talking about research for marketing, strategy, sales and product development all through wiki analysis.
While we typically advise clients to use Social Media and wikis to manage their brand, I think there are some other very big implications of using wikis specifically. By analyzing this level of data across wikis (which happen to have the advantage of being user-generated and social, while being seen as “neutral” through their unique crowd sourcing style model), a company can take advantage of global brand data that can help them make decisions across a number of topic areas in a very focused manner.