In the last 11 years, Wikipedia has become one of the most influential and searched sites on the Internet. Because of its Internet prowess, it is a great tool to promote a business or product. A Wikipedia page for your brand influences search engines, validates your presence, tells your brand’s history—and it’s free. At Communiqué PR, we typically recommend that organizations leverage the power of Wikipedia.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Wikipedia is a collaboratively-edited encyclopedia that allows Internet users to contribute and edit information. However, despite being a straightforward service, getting a successful page posted and accepted by Wikipedia can be more difficult than one may expect.
Jay Walsh, a spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees Wikipedia, has said that although it is not a written rule, writing about yourself or your own business is highly discouraged because it detracts from the neutrality the site attempts to have. Herein lies the challenge for businesses hoping to develop a Wikipedia page: How can you craft an accurate and flattering Wikipedia presence for your company, if Wikipedia’s content is constantly being scrutinized for marketing ploys?
I recently read “Use Wikipedia as a Marketing Tool,” an article by Minda Zetlin on Inc.com, which covers a few interesting tips to ensuring the success of your business’ Wikipedia appearances.
1) Begin with a general PR campaign. If your company is mentioned in blog posts, social media and articles it will help legitimize your business, and this is valuable when Wikipedia is reviewing pages. Also, make sure that your website is constantly up to date, offering accurate information for users who might add to your Wikipedia page. The more consistency, the better.
2) Search your company’s name in Wikipedia. This may seem like an odd strategy, but there is a possibility that your company’s name could be mentioned in another post. If your company has been mentioned, you have the opportunity to add to existing information about your brand on this Wikipedia post. This may give you an additional spot to share a little more information about your company without starting a new post of your own.
3) Start with a small post. Develop only a few sentences or sections at a time on your Wikipedia page. This encourages other people to add more and is seen as a “challenge” by Wikipedians. If you put up a large amount of information at once, regular users are likely to request that your page be removed because it is perceived as a marketing scheme. The thought is that it takes away from the collaborative aspect integral to Wikipedia.
4) Include links to other sites. Providing third-party links legitimizes your brand’s Wikipedia page. Wikipedians will look to see that your company has been mentioned in other articles or publications before posting about your company.
5) Use the discussion page. Every Wikipedia page has a discussion page. This can be used as a tool to add more links, explanations or information you may see as beneficial to the post.
6) Keep an eye on your post. Because Wikipedia is collaboratively edited, anyone can add to your post. After your post is first created, Wikipedians will most likely find it and edit it quickly. It is crucial that you leave some time to work on it. It is important to constantly review your page in case some unwanted edits or attacks are made. The best way to go about editing these is through the Wikipedia community. If the edits are made by you or members of your own company, then it appears to be censorship. One option to help avoid this issue is to create a “controversy section” within your Wikipedia page, in order to clarify negative issues that other users might post.
Wikipedia receives a huge amount of Internet traffic, and can thus be a valuable resource for your brand. However, due to its wide range of viewership and accessibility, it is important to make sure that all the information shared through Wikipedia reflects your business correctly, and as positively as possible, especially because anyone can create it. If carefully executed, a self-made Wikipedia page for your brand has the potential to be an excellent form of strategic communications.Tags: Branding, Inc., Inc.com, Jay Walsh, Minda Zetlin, Reputation Management, Wikimedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia