When you type in a Google search for a name brand, famous figure, or historical event, you’ll almost always see a familiar name at the top of the search results: Wikipedia. In fact, it’s hard to spend much time in any search engine without encountering a Wikipedia page. But have you ever thought about whether this popular online encyclopedia could be a powerful marketing tool for your brand?
Four Tips for Wikipedia Marketing
Whether it’s for a personal brand or a business, it’s possible to obtain a Wikipedia page. Don’t confuse this with being easy or effortless, though. Depending on a number of factors, you may find it challenging to get started.
However, here are some helpful tips that should get you moving in the right direction:
1. Wikipedia Has Notability Requirements
Wikipedia has some requirements regarding who and what can have a page. These are known as “notability requirements.” You can read about all of the details, but the basic gist is that you must have a collection of authoritative third party sources of biographical information on the internet in order to create a page. These sources typically come from PR releases, interviews, articles, or online records.
2. Wikipedia Shouldn’t Be Your Initial Focus
Let’s say you’re trying to build your personal brand. While Wikipedia is certainly a very visible website, it shouldn’t (and can’t) be your first focus. You must invest in a far more general content marketing and PR strategy before even considering Wikipedia.
Take Tim Sykes, successful millionaire penny stock trader and coach, as an example. If you look at his Wikipedia page, you’ll notice there are nearly 50 references at the bottom. In order for his page to be validated, every single statement had to be backed by a third-party resource. It took years for Sykes to earn enough links and stories to earn the right to have a Wikipedia page. Remember, focus on molding yourself (or your brand) into a notable entity before considering Wikipedia.
3. Don’t Take a DIY Approach
“If you believe your company passes the notability test, but Wiki volunteers have not yet created an article for your organization, you may be tempted to take matters into your own hands,” journalist James A. Martin explains. “The DIY approach to Wikipedia, however, is usually a bad idea.”
Wikipedia has a conflict of interest guidelines. These guidelines simply state that Wikipedia pages must be written and edited by third party individuals. Instead of writing your own page (that will more than likely be flagged), hire a professional who is unbiased and understands the intricacies of publishing on Wikipedia.
4. Be Prepared for Criticism
In an ideal world, your Wikipedia page would be a powerful marketing tool that would tout all of the wonderful things you’ve done. But you have to remember that Wikipedia is a collaborative platform where people can edit and revise entries.
“The biggest reason to avoid a Wikipedia entry is that once you finally achieve one, it stops being your own,” journalist Monica Hesse says. “You might have created it, but everyone else can edit it. The resulting product isn’t going to be a celebration of you, it’s going to be a clinical analysis of your failures as well as your triumphs.”
If you’re willing to take on these risks, then so be it. Just remember that you aren’t in total control of your Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia Marketing: Proceed With Caution
When it comes to Wikipedia for marketing purposes, the best piece of advice is to proceed with caution. There are great pages – such as this one of baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Aaron – and then there are big blunders – such as these.
Be careful and don’t rush the process.