Wikipedia has become THE source for knowledge on anything from scientific facts to iconic pop culture art. It was originally devised as an encyclopedia. However, it is by no means the classic encyclopedia we consulted at our local library as kids. It is an encyclopedia created by the people, for the people, about all the things that people want to know more about. Because it is constantly updated and because everyone references Wikipedia articles, it often lands the top spots in search engine rankings.
Let’s check out their guidelines for writing an entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_a_page.
There’s a lot of useful information, but one thing stands out in particular, in reference to advertising: “Please do not try to promote your product or business. Please do not insert external links to your commercial website unless a neutral party would judge that the link truly belongs in the article; ...if you are writing about a product or business, be sure you write from a neutral point of view, that you have no conflict of interest, and that you are able to find references in reliable sources that are independent from the subject you are writing about.”
Well, should we throw the idea of Wikipedia Marketing on the scrap heap? No! Do not despair! There are ways to promote your business on Wikipedia. Mind you, you can’t be as straightforward as you are in your landing page or banner ad, but there is a way to tap into the marketing potential of this unparalleled source of information.
To do so, you must adhere the following essential Wikipedia Marketing principles.
1. Be Willing to Make a Contribution
This can’t be stressed enough. The whole idea behind allowing people to write articles for Wikipedia is to make an important contribution to the knowledge base. If you make this your guiding principle when you write and submit your articles, you’ll avoid the main hurdles set forth by the Wikipedia guidelines. Sure, you want to promote your services and products, but this is not the place for blatant advertising. If you place yourself in the role of contributor, it’ll make things easier.
2. Accept the Rules
Accept the fact that once you submit your first article, which you lovingly created and meticulously polished, anyone has the power to edit it. These are the rules. This is how Wikipedia works. You CAN guide what is written through intelligent discussion, but you must accept that what you write might be edited at any time. Embrace this concept as the best policy for the public good.
3. Don’t Even Think about Being Persuasive in Any Way
If you write anything that remotely resembles promotion, the Wikipedia hound dogs will sniff you out. Write in a neutral tone; be objective and unbiased. Still, presenting cold, hard facts sometimes isn’t enough, which is why point number 4 is fundamental.
4. Make Your Business Worthy of Wikipedia
A description of your company, what it does, and a list of your products and services simply won’t do. It’ll be considered promotion and will be promptly removed by the content administrator. Instead, focus on a technological innovation your company has lead. Have you patented anything? Is there a revolutionary process/software/program you’ve created? Focus on your contribution, not the company or product. The goal is to persuade the administrators and community that your article is a valuable addition to the knowledge base.
5. Reference Papers, Works, or Websites with Authority
Wikipedia is gonna love this. Include external links, not to your company’s homepage, but academic papers, scientific journals, industry-specific websites to give your article the credibility it needs and Wikipedia demands. You may indirectly link to your website through a research paper with your link on it.
To sum up, if you really want to be listed in Wikipedia, you must prove that your company and what you do are important to the community and society in general. Lastly, get involved in the debate. If users edit, or make changes, take this as a form of discussion, not as a personal affront. Lead them back to where you want to go with your articles. But if you want to advertise, you should skip Wikipedia and instead go about methods that are more suitable to this purpose.