The place of companies on Wikipedia, Bolero breakfast conference

On the 5th of March, Bolero Web Intelligence, a consulting firm specialized on monitoring and influence on the internet, organized a breakfast conference to answer a more and more pressing question for companies: is Wikipedia a vector of influence? And if so, how to use it?

Wikipedia, a must on the web

According to Bolero Web Intelligence, three quarters of French Internet users are led to consult a Wikipedia article when they are looking for information, whatever the topic. Effectively, the encyclopedia statistics tends to confirm it, as 20 million French unique visitors consult 700 million pages every month. In Early 2015, it  was the 9th most visited website in France.

The encyclopedia is consulted for substantive issues as well as for hot topics. Bolero consultants note, for example, the explosion in the number of consultations and modifications to article devoted to Julie Gayet, when her relationship with François Hollande was revealed. As such, the encyclopedia becomes a stake of influence, whether at short or long-term.

Wikipedia, a contentious ground for companies

If Wikipedia is now unavoidable, the information it contains remain often unbalanced. Indeed, on this support, individuals defending causes occupy a bigger place than institutions and companies wishing to present (even objectively) their organization and activities.

This is the problem that the speakers of the breakfast conference were exposed to: Emmanuel Bloch, director of strategic information at Thales, and German Gomez, e-communication service chief at Renault Group. To face it, Thales and Renault took the decision to transparently contribute to the online encyclopedia. Dedicated accounts, clearly identified, have been created, according to the rules of Wikipedia.

Nevertheless, even in such a configuration, collaboration sometimes turns into a dialogue of the deaf, or even in an edition war. Areva, for example, experienced it. Regular critics towards the company account, “Laure At Areva”, led to important suppressions of contents posted by the group, because of “massive use of internal sources”.

Thus, on Wikipedia, even transparency can work against goodwill of companies.

Influence: a long-term work

To be sustainably influent on Wikipedia, a simple action of “objective” contribution is not sufficient. It is necessary, first, to properly analyze the forces involved, and, if necessary, act beyond Wikipedia, in order to be recognized and strengthen its legitimacy.