Wikipedia frequently comes in the top five searches when people are looking for content relating to your type of products, your business or your industry. Yet it is also frequently overlooked as a marketing tool. Everyone knows that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone, but how many of us have actually had a go?
Why edit Wikipedia?
It may be that a client of yours is featured but there’s a biographical detail that is incorrect. Or a competitor which is yet to make its mark has a really extensive entry – while your well-established brand is barely featured. Maybe you have knowledge to share about new developments in your industry…
These are all good reasons to edit Wikipedia, and putting relevant and factually correct information out should benefit you in the long term. For example, we edited the Social Impact Bond article to show relevant stories in the press as part of our work with social profit society, Allia.
What you may notice is that none of these reasons are overtly promotional. That kind of behaviour is frowned upon by the in-house editors, who will quickly remove the content. So don’t see this as a golden opportunity to shamelessly plug your brand or project!
Three golden rules for editing Wikipedia
There are three golden rules for editing Wikipedia content. If your updates fail on any of these points you’ll incur the wrath of the editors!
1. Significant coverage
You need to show that the subject of the article is notable – see Wiki guidance on ‘notability’, which means that it has gained sufficiently significant attention by the world at large and over a period of time.
2. Reliable and independent sources
These are really important, so make sure you have some ready. These could be from major newspapers, a widely-published book or high-quality mainstream publications – anything which is generally trusted to tell the truth.
The following are not seen as reliable sources so don’t even try! Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, forums, most blogs, and most YouTube videos.
Nothing written by the subject, paid for by the subject, or affiliated with the subject can be considered “independent”. Anything on the subject’s website, and any press release issued by the subject, are examples of sources that are not independent.
How to edit Wikipedia
Now you’ve decided if your content has a genuine reason to be included in Wikipedia, there are two places to start.
1. Editing an existing entry
This is a good way of getting familiar with the wonderful (OK, baffling) world of the Wikipedia content management system.
Firstly, you need to get handy with Wiki markup language so you can write in a way which is consistent with other Wikipedia content. It’s worth spending time reading How to edit a page before you start. You should also print off the cheat sheet and have it to hand.
Then make small edits, saving frequently and explaining what you’ve done each time. This means that other people can see what edits you’ve made and why. This is useful if someone wants to change it all back for some reason.
Your edits will publish straight away so you can see what you’ve done.
2. Adding a new entry
This is a little more problematic. OK, quite a lot! The content management system is really difficult to get your head round, even for an experienced web editor. Expect to end up scratching your head and squinting at the screen as you try to work out where you are in the whole process.
It’s always worth writing it out in a Word document first, and of course reading that guide to editing before you start.
Once it’s been submitted you’ll have to wait a week or so for the official editors to approve it. Be prepared for the fact that they won’t. You may need to reword certain sections or find extra sources to prove that the subject is notable before the article gets approval.
And lastly, good luck! It can be a frustrating process, but the more people battle through, the more reflective of our society and its knowledge Wikipedia becomes.