Wikipedia for Marketing, Should Your Business Use It?

by David King on Aug 26, 2011

This post is part of our series on Wikipedia for Marketing


How can I use Wikipedia to market my small business?

A common question in Wikipedia webinars and workshops with an unpopular answer.

The answer is, you don’t.

It’s my only consolation in a tough conversation on Wikipedia’s definition of “worthy of notice” that I can point to Wikipedia’s notability guidelines like a guilty child “he said it.”

So it seemed only sensible to start off my first post for Social Fresh on Wikipedia for marketing by talking about who should be doing Wikipedia work, who should read on and who should look elsewhere to achieve their goals.

Wikipedia is – by a huge margin – the most under-serviced social media channel, but at the same time it’s not for everyone.

Will you get value from Wikipedia?

Lets start out with if you can get what you’re looking for from Wikipedia. Most any organization with a solid PR function can get value from Wikipedia, but there are many corporations that simply have nothing to gain.

  • Search: Wikipedia gets half its traffic from search and it’s on the first page of results in 95% of all Google searches. Poor quality Wikipedia pages on an organization often get millions of hits, because it’s the top third-party source of information in search.The flip side of getting so much traffic from search is a reader has to be familiar with the company before they punch the company name into that search bar. Companies that are virtually unknown won’t become known through Wikipedia. That doesn’t mean you need to be a celebrity or Fortune 100 company to get value from Wikipedia, but there has to be a market that’s interested in learning more about you.
  • Branding: Wikipedia is literally a definition of a company. As “the people’s” encyclopedia, it also tells them how your brand is perceived. Wikipedia is a treasure trove for companies that really care about branding, but those who don’t care won’t find much that appeals to them here.There are some opportunities for product marketing, especially for companies the size of Cisco or IBM, but generally product marketers aren’t going to find what they want here.

Sometimes it may seem like Wikipedia favors larger companies, but it actually favors better known companies. This becomes really explicit as we get into Wikipedia’s requirements.

Will Wikipedia get value from you?

If I haven’t scared you off yet, then there is value for you on Wikipedia. Now to see if Wikipedia feels there’s value for them.

If there’s already an article on your company, but it’s not very good, please go straight to Go; collect $200. Improve that Wiki.

If no Wiki exists, then you have to determine if Wikipedia will feel the company deserves one based on Wikipedia’s notability requirements. These ascertain whether a topic is “worthy of notice” enough to have a Wiki on it.

Notability is complex and there’s many factors that influence how detailed a Wiki should be or if a company should  have a more complex Wikipedia program. In a nutshell it’s based on authoritative, third-party sources of information on the company.

If The New York Times covered it, the topic is more likely to be considered notable.

What influences notability?

  • Biographical articles (over quotes, mentions, articles or product coverage) that spell out things like the company’s history, how it was founded, financial performance, leadership and corporate culture.
  • Trade publications, technically, aren’t suppose to count, but in practice this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if it’s not the type of organization that’s achieved awareness in the masses, enough notability in your field works
  • Authority publications – Just getting in a publication like The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal can often make an impression when those names are listed as a reference for your article.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, then keep reading. In some upcoming articles, we’ll cover steps for writing a Wiki, how to address negativity or conflict and other topics.

—-

Is your business actively using Wikipedia for marketing?

 

 

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Post Author

David King is the founder of Ethical Wiki, a professional services organization that helps companies improve Wikipedia ethically by offering content, requesting corrections and discussing controversies. Learn more at ethicalwiki.com or read our eBook on Wikipedia & marketing....

  • http://twitter.com/John_Trader1 John Trader

    David, interesting article thanks for posting.  I made sure to update my company’s Wikipedia profile so we can be found if someone Googles our name, the SERP for Wikipedia appears.  The struggle I seem to have is that no matter how much I dumb down the Wiki entry, it still is listed as reading as an “advertisement.”  I have removed all marketing and PR terms and simply listed our history, what we do, key products and key partnerships.  I have read the entry many times trying to remove everything I can think of that may be perceived as marketing related.  What am I doing wrong?  Is it the “Key Products” and “Key Partnerships” themselves that is considered as “advertisements?”

  • http://www.CoreyCreed.com Corey Creed

    Glad to have you writing for Social Fresh, David.  Wikipedia is certainly a platform that is under-utilized by many businesses.  I look forward to your future posts, thoughts, and ideas.

  • http://www.brandstrategy.co.za Michael Said

    Thanks for sharing this, I find Wikipedia helpful for research however have not used it for marketing purposes. 

  • David44357

    Hi John,

    I’d love to take a look if you send me the Wiki and your username on Wikipedia.

    Sometimes the Wikipedia community uses the advert tag as a catch-all, though there are more specific tags for other things that bother them.

    I’d have to take a look at the Wiki, its history and the content.

    -David

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  • http://shimworld.wordpress.com/ Shimworld

    I don’t see how Wikipedia can be used for Marketing when they make no
    provision to let you market/advertise or am I missing something ?

    “Do not create pages about yourself, your company, your band or your friends, nor pages that advertise, nor personal essays or other articles you would not find in an encyclopedia.”

  • http://www.twitterblogpost.com Babu M varghese

    Great article It is a new idea for me that Wikipedia can be used for marketing. Thanks for sharing .. Unique thinking

  • http://www.twitterblogpost.com Babu M varghese

    Great article It is a new idea for me that Wikipedia can be used for marketing. Thanks for sharing .. Unique thinking

  • http://www.facebook.com/carrariley Carra Riley

    David,
    I was just thinking about an invitation I had received from Wikipedia to fill out a profile on myself.  It had been on the back burner then I saw a friend on Google+ had his flickr photos with the Wikipedia links so the dots started connecting.. Then I saw a post on Google+ which led me to Socialfresh.com here Jason Keath was going to go on a 45 day fast with only liquid diet… long story to get to your post.. as I scrolled down the list of articles.. there this was and everything seemed to fall into place.  I like taking photos and some of the photos that are available on Wikipedia to could be better… so find a niche and fill it.  Exposure with credits will lead people back to you… so I am putting this on my list to complete.  A listing on myself and a different listing on my company.  So thank you for helping me connect the Wikipedia dots… just what I needed.

  • http://www.deloprojet.com deloprojet

    is a great idea to go through the photos. 

  • David King

    You’re right on target. The Wikipedia community is hungry for images. If you do a Google search for your product, and that Wiki needs an image, contribute an image of your product with a caption “An image of [[product]] from [[brand]].”

    Though there are numerous exceptions, keep in mind Wikipedia requires that images be free, which usually means Creative Commons and you need to be auto-confirmed user to upload. However neither of those obstacles are insurmountable.

  • David King

    Yes, not advertising – more like branding – IF you are a notable company.

    -David King
    David44357@gmail.com
    @621be97444400a85a20a590ba95e7da9:disqus 
    http://www.david44357.com

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