Not Using Wikipedia as a Marketing Tool

November 5, 2018

Marketing and communications professionals often conceive of their company’s Wikipedia article as a means of leveraging the platform’s recognition and credibility into legitimacy for their company and its brand. With its high visibility and strong link authority on Google, it seems only natural to want to utilize Wikipedia as a marketing tool. But this is a common (and ultimately shortsighted) mistake people make time and time again.

 

Wikipedia’s strict community guidelines and content policies make it exceedingly difficult, if not outright impossible, to sustain an article that has been created or heavily altered for promotional means. Because Wikipedia’s Terms of Use necessitate the disclosure of any paid conflict of interest (COI), there is already a system in place to warn other editors about potential violations of a neutral point of view in the article. COI editors neglecting to comply with the policy, whether unintentionally or to skirt the rules, leave the article subject to deletion and edit locks while simultaneously jeopardizing their account and IP address to topic bans, editing bans, and account blocks. Furthermore, there could be reputational repercussions that transcend beyond Wikipedia. In April 2017, Burger King received considerable backlash in the mainstream media for directly editing their Wikipedia article for use in voice search via the Google Home digital assistant.

 

Furthermore, every article on Wikipedia is subject to notability guidelines. All too often young and emerging companies attempt to write their own Wikipedia articles when there is not sufficient mainstream media coverage to warrant its creation . For a subject to be deemed notable enough for a Wikipedia article, there should be a variety of quality media clippings from reputable sources. Lexalytics had its article flagged for deletion due to a lack of notability. After curating references for the Wikipedia community that demonstrated their significance, the community reached consensus to preserve the article. In addition to qualifying the subject as noteworthy enough for inclusion on Wikipedia, these sources also serve to support the content of the article. Wikipedia places a higher value on mainstream media, so be careful to distinguish it from industry media coverage (even in abundance).

 

A company’s Wikipedia article can be an excellent complement to a robust marketing and media relations program. At early stage and mid-market companies the stakeholders in the development of a Wikipedia article are media relations, investor relations, and legal. At enterprise companies, the archives and branding teams also participates in the development or improvement of the company’s Wikipedia article. Providing a space for interested customers, shareholders, and employees to learn about your company story is a valuable public service. Approach Wikipedia with the same diligence and care as if the team is creating a hardbound encyclopedia. A successful marketing campaign can influence the public to create a Wikipedia article without your involvement on the platform. Be sure to consider all the options in your marketing strategy before trying to capitalize on Wikipedia’s strengths.

 

 

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