Wikipedia isn’t just a de facto research ‘base’ for many social media users and customers. Having a page there is also a guarantee of high ranking in search engine results. That makes the online encyclopedia a powerful marketing platform for businesses, according to Wikipedia expert Mike Wood.
This self-taught entrepreneur and marketer started working as a volunteer Wikipedia editor while he was a law student. “I took on a project to edit Wikipedia for pay,” he says. “The company was happy with the results and the pay was good. It didn’t take long before word of mouth and a little advertising turned Legalmorning.com into a viable business.”
Mike quickly noticed that there was very little information available about Wikipedia as a promotional tool. And he had to deal with an inordinate number of emails from people trying to game the system.
“I spent much of my time trying to teach others the proper way to use the site in order to get the marketing benefits,” he adds. “So, after a while, I became sick of typing the same emails explaining various guidelines. Many people want to get on Wikipedia, but the majority of them do not understand how it works.”
His experience gave him the idea to write “Wikipedia as a Marketing Tool: How to Reap the Marketing Benefits of Wikipedia.” The book covers basic questions and important pieces of advice for ethical and successful use of the platform.
So, why should a B2B firm or marketer want to have a Wikipedia page? Mike mentions three major reasons: branding, SEO, and the Google Knowledge Graph. “Those alone are what makes Wikipedia a coveted asset of any marketing campaign.”
However, before jumping on the bandwagon, he recommends paying attention to Wikipedia’s rules. First of all, the site is an encyclopedia. Craft your information accordingly. “This means that what you would normally use for your marketing material is out the window,” he continues.
Another important rule is that promotional content is frowned upon. It explains why companies, especially in the B2B space, rarely see their content approved. The editing community, most of whom is made up of volunteers, expects self-serving, sales stories.
“If you are a marketing agency, it will be presumed you are there to promote yourself,” Mike adds. “If you offer IT services for business, then you will be seen as a spammer before you even type a single word.”
Mike’s recommendation is to stick to basic facts about you and your services. “A great example would be a marketing company that specializes in branding – simply state you work in branding. No need to talk about all your awards or the clients you helped. You can also look at what a company like Clarizen has done here.”
Now, what about writing your page yourself? Two words: Exercise caution. Wikipedia is against the practice and has very strict editing guidelines. “A B2B firm should at least have a professional review their draft prior to posting it there,” says Mike. “It is difficult to write about yourself and those without extensive experience on Wikipedia are likely to violate guidelines (e.g., writing style, referencing) without even knowing it.”
And there is also the fact that Wikipedia is open source. Anybody can edit its content at any time. As such, Mike advises monitoring your page regularly. You never know what you may find the next time you look!
That brings us to the most important (unwritten) rule about using a third-party platform to market your B2B firm. You have no control over what happens there. So, if you are considering ditching your website for a Wikipedia page, think again. Your digital property still matters to prospects.
“Most people use Wikipedia as a starting point, but they will ultimately wind up on your website if they are at all interested in what you have to offer,” Mike concludes. “Keep Wikipedia short and to the point and let clients jump to your website where you can be as promotional as you want to be.”
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