I'll be honest with you. Prior to chatting to Wikipedia expert Rhiannon Ruff from digital brand reputation agency Lumino for this podcast episode, I didn't give Wikipedia much time of day as a brand resource.
Sheesh. What a mistake that was.
If you have ever wondered how Wikipedia works, what value it could add to your brand or, how on earth you get your company/client up on the platform, this will give you a quick overview.
Alternatively, skip straight to the podcast interview with Rhiannon, which covers everything in far more detail. Link at the bottom of the page.
WHY SHOULD I PAY ATTENTION TO WIKIPEDIA?
You’d be forgiven for tarring Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information. And, while that may be true at times, the platform remains a major touchpoint for many journalists, investors, customers and recruiters – all of whom might be checking out your brand for one reason or another. So, you want to ensure the information on your company or client is correct, right?
The biggest reason to care about Wikipedia is this: Google’s search algorithm loves it. A Wikipedia article (that’s Wikipedia’s term for a page) is a catch-all for everything Google looks for when it’s plumbing the internet for data. It’s a clean format rich with data. And, if you’re a brand with an active account, chances are your company’s Wiki will land at the top of Google’s search results.
Not sure what's on your company's Wikipedia page or if you even have one? Check now, and see where it shows up within the search engine. If you do have a Wikipedia article, take the time to read through what's on there and assess whether the content is correct and up-to-date.
I DON'T HAVE A WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE, BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE I SHOULD HAVE ONE...
Getting an article up on Wikipedia can be a tricky process. It’s not as simple as pasting your company information to the virtual community board. Wikipedia is a community though, comprising volunteer editors with stringent guidelines for what makes it into the database.
For Wikipedia to publish an article on your brand (remember, article doesn't refer to a piece of media coverage in this instance - it's what you and I might consider a brand listing or page), it needs to see that the brand exists in the eyes of reputable, secondary sources.
“Substantial” journalistic coverage (think four or five lengthy pieces) in mainstream media is what it looks for, and it’s not enough to be mentioned in relation to broad media trends or in a short blurb. At least one or two of those sources (or pieces of media coverage), need to be comprehensively focused on your company. Tabloids don’t count either. Many of them are blacklisted by Wikipedia’s community guidelines as they're not deemed 'reputable'.
If your company doesn't have media coverage that quite fits what's required, make it a goal of yours over the next few months to develop opportunities for your company to be at the front and centre of credible media coverage.
I HAVE RELEVANT MEDIA COVERAGE SOURCES. WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT?
If you feel your brand has adequate coverage, you can submit a draft article to Wikipedia’s editors, who will assess the material’s credibility, tone and style against its community guidelines. Here's an overview from Wikipedia of what you are required to do.
Before you submit, consider working with a Wikipedia specialist, such as Lumino, to assist with this process. They can determine whether your brand is ready to engage in the space, and will work with the most suitable person on your team to draft an airtight application.
Wikipedia also has firm rules about what a brand can and can’t do when it comes to an article submission. This is the biggest reason to consider teaming up with a specialist. Many brands attempt to write the application themselves, or commission a freelance writer to compile news links and the company spiel from a boilerplate. If you don't get it right, the application can quickly be rejected so if time is of the essence, use a specialist to streamline this process.
CAN I WRITE MY OWN ARTICLE SUBMISSION?
It is possible to go it alone for the submission process, but you should take the time to do it properly. Look for content on how best to structure and format Wikipedia article submissions, and make sure your sources give a complete picture of your brand.
Wikipedia’s editors are forgiving if your draft article isn’t up to scratch (they always give feedback as to why), but they don’t look kindly upon repeat mistakes. And, if you really tick them off, you and your organisation’s IP address can be blocked for a period of time. Yikes.
Failing to disclose your relationship to the brand in the article submission is one way to send up a red flag. Another is by inserting promotional material for your brand anywhere on the site.
So, if you have the time and energy to thoroughly researching the best practice for submitting a Wikipedia article then doing it yourself is a reasonable approach.
But, if you want to save yourself the faff and remove the margin for error, hand-ball it to a specialist who can take care of the hard work for you.
This was just a quick overview of some of the points discussed in this podcast episode. If you want to learn more about why brands should care about Wikipedia, the podcast episode delves into far more detail and is packed with tips and insight from Rhiannon Ruff, Wikipedia expert and co-founder of digital brand reputation agency Lumino.
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