Should You Create a Wikipedia Page for Your Company?

The first posts on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, were made in January 2001. People have used the sometimes vilified site to research and learn about a dizzying array of subjects, people, places, and organizations since its inception.

Though the fact that anybody may modify a Wikipedia page — even with sourcing information — makes it a suspect source for anyone doing real research, the fact that anyone can edit it is not lost on public relations (PR) professionals and the organizations they represent. To minimize blatant conflicts of interest, the method requires that the page be created by someone who is not involved with the organization.

There are, however, excellent practices for influencing what appears on a website, which makes it a potentially useful PR tool.

What you should know

There are a few things to consider before diving into the best practices for building a Wikipedia page for your organization. For instance, this Inc. article titled "8 Things You Need to Know About Wikipedi" informs out that anybody may modify the site.

This implies that, despite the fact that Wikipedia has a community of volunteer editors, a company's page must be constantly monitored after it has been created. This brings up another issue about the not-so-simple procedure of correcting mistakes.

It is difficult to appeal for modifications to a page since the site is updated by a decentralized collection of volunteers. This is because, unlike a journal, magazine, or newspaper, there is no chief editor to whom you may appeal.

Finally, the Inc. article emphasizes that having a Wikipedia page is not required, since it "ultimately has no effect on business momentum." There are, however, certain advantages to having a corporate page, the most notable of which being that Wikipedia is often the top search result in engines, and content from pages is frequently the first thing a person sees during a search.

With that stated, there are a few crucial considerations to make while creating a corporate page.

Not just a place to promote yourself

To begin, it's important to understand that a company's Wikipedia page is not intended to be a vehicle for self-promotion. A superb Wikipedia page is "comprehensive, well-researched, neutral, and well-organized," as The Mather Group's "4 Best Practices for Writing Great Content for a Wikipedia Page" clearly states. In summary, a great page has all key information or details, makes statements that are supported by credible sources (rather than a series of links sending visitors to your corporate page), maintains a neutral tone, and is organized into sections by lead and section titles.

The same article concludes by stating that your material will last as long as these criteria are followed. Last but not least, a corporation must declare any conflicts of interest while maintaining a page.

This implies that if you are directly involved with the content of a Wikipedia article, you must declare that information and are not permitted to make revisions. Here's where you can learn more about it. The problem of amending your page after it's been written persists. Nonetheless, there is a procedure to follow in order to make modifications.

This CASACOM article, "Wikipedia: Best Practices to Change Your Company's Page," is a wonderful resource for making modifications to your company's page. To summarize what it states, "the only way for a business to edit its own page in accordance with the site's guidelines" is to use the "Talk" area of your page.

It goes on to say that the most effective strategies to maintain a well-edited and correct page are to use reputable sources, to continually examine and monitor your page, and to use the "Request for comment" and "Third Option" options when you disagree with an editor.

Conclusion

Wikipedia has been a reliable source of easy-to-understand information on a wide range of subjects since its inception in 2001. While having a page for your company is not required to operate a successful business, it might be useful since the site is well-attuned to Google's search algorithm.

If you want to create a page, keep in mind to declare conflicts of interest and follow rules, to be thorough but concise, to back up your assertions with impartial and credible sources, and to be active in content monitoring.

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Thanks to Donna St. Jean Conti at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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