Wikipedia – the online encyclopaedia – has become one of the key, albeit indirect, promotional tools for companies, brands, entrepreneurs, and influencers alike. A Wikipedia page doesn’t provide any direct marketing potential, because the platform is simply not suited for direct interactions with customers and doesn’t allow overtly promotional material. However, having your own Wikipedia page does add a considerable amount of credibility and reliability to your business or brand, whatever it may be. A Wikipedia page suggests that you and your brand are noteworthy, influential, well-established, verifiable, and most importantly of all: trustworthy.
Harder than it looks
A cursory glance at any description of Wikipedia will inform you that anyone can contribute and edit material in the virtual encyclopaedia. As you may expect, though, creating a business or individual Wikipedia page is nowhere near as easy as simply signing up and uploading content.
Wikipedia has stringent rules where it comes to the type and style of content that gets posted, as well as strict referencing criteria. ‘Notability’ is the main requirement – meaning that the subject of the page has to be notable (important, significant, well-known) enough to warrant the creation of an entry. Wikipedia’s editing manual is immense and complex, and successful editing requires not only understanding the rules but also a fair amount of practice.
Style and tone
One of the foundations of successfully creating what we could call a ‘commercial’ Wikipedia page is writing in the right tone. Wikipedia doesn’t allow any promotional content at all, and the platform is incredibly rigorous where it comes to monitoring both new entries and edits to existing articles.
Writing in Wikipedia’s required objective and informative tone is a fine art that takes practice. For example, you might not think of the phrase ‘the product’s apparent success’ as biased or unclear, but ‘apparent’ is one of the words that Wikipedia frowns upon, as it indicates lack of objective certainty. Similarly, words such as ‘would’, ‘suggests’, or ‘might’ imply lack of certainty and the use of a personal opinion, and can result in the page being flagged for review and removed.
In short, a Wikipedia page can include nothing but objective, verifiable facts. The key word here is objective: each piece of information needs to be backed by a third-party source, preferably unaffiliated with the company, brand, or person in question. The official website or LinkedIn won’t cut it – ideally, you need references from news outlets and other authoritative publications. Importantly, press releases should be avoided, since they are not created by an impartial source.
That being said, the link to your official website can be included in the Wikipedia page – just not as one of the references. Looking at some examples of company or influencer pages, you’ll notice that there is often an ‘Official website’ link at the end and in the info box on the top right of the page.
Tricks of the trade
For all but the largest companies, this means that there likely won’t be enough organic, third-party information out there to create a full, lengthy entry. This is where the help of qualified editors and experienced PR companies comes in. In the event of not enough sources available out there, it’s possible to have several articles ghost-written and published in minor media outlets prior to working on the Wikipedia page, resulting in objective references.
For smaller companies and brands, many Wikipedia editors will advise starting with a stub – a very short article – leaving it online for a few months, and then gradually adding extra information. This careful, measured expansion usually results in better chances of the page staying live than posting a full article straight away without enough sources.
Lastly, it helps to add mentions of the company or brand to existing Wikipedia pages. In the same way that backlinking can do wonders for your website’s SEO, mentions elsewhere on Wikipedia increase the credibility of the page in question.
There to stay
Publishing the page is just part of the success – it’s essential to ensure that it doesn’t subsequently get taken down.
Ultimately, the help of an experienced editor is going to be essential. An established Wikipedia editor will already have credibility and a level of authority on the platform, as well as the experience necessary to craft a page with the highest chances of remaining live.