Welcome to Wikipedia: Effectively Navigating an Online Community for Your Brand

When moving to a new town, it’s considered in poor taste to immediately begin dictating the way people there should live.

It’s the same for brands using Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is one of the most-used websites on the web, and yet there are few things brands can do to control it.

The online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone with access to the site, while a valuable resource for gaining more insight into a particular topic, is not the friendliest of sites for public relations professionals. Because of its popularity and widespread use—there are currently more than four million articles on the site—Wikipedia entries receive top listings in SEO searches. As a result, the site provides companies with an opportunity to promote a brand and educate users, but also comes with the risk of sharing less desirable information with its readers.

Since Wikipedia pages can be written and edited by anyone, and often multiple people, the information on those pages is constantly evolving as more news about a particular topic becomes available. Any information included on a page must be verifiable and reliable (even if it’s not necessarily true). These Wikipedia features contribute to the public’s perception that a Wikipedia page is more accurate and unbiased than other sources.

But what about when a page is inaccurate or biased? The Wikipedia community has established guidelines for addressing concerns about a brand’s page, which strongly recommend working within the current infrastructure. As with other aspects of our work, transparency and respect are key. When engaging with the community to address a concern, clearly state who you are and the brand you represent. Keep the conversation friendly.

If your business is considering using Wikipedia as an option for educating Internet users about their company and product, keep these potential issues and community guidelines in mind. A Wikipedia page cannot be controlled the way other outlets can. If your business already has a page, develop a rapport with people in the Wikipedia community—doing otherwise could threaten you and your page’s credibility.

Don’t risk getting run out of town.

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