Clients often ask me if it makes sense for them to put the effort into the content creation required to build a Wikipedia page for their business. There are advantages and disadvantages to dedicating resources, e.g. people’s time, toward making this happen. First and foremost, I should note that not every business qualifies for “Wiki status.” If your business does qualify, it’s also important to note that you ultimately cannot control the content of the page.
As with most things related to the Internet, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with having your business listed on Wikipedia. It’s important for business owners to weigh both the pros and cons of proactively seeking a Wikipedia listing.
One of the greatest advantages associated with being listed on Wikipedia is the fact that it often connotes status. Not every business qualifies for a Wikipedia listing, so if yours does, this can certainly cast it in a positive light. A listing will also raise your business’ visibility, as listed companies generally rank higher in search.
A fact that cannot be understated is that Wikipedia is considered by the general public to be a trusted resource. Wikipedia listings are comprised of facts. Just the facts. Therefore listings are considered to be objective, neutral and supportive of a corporate culture of transparency. For these reasons alone, a listing serves as a great resource for potential clients/customers/employees.
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the disadvantages that can be associated with having your business listed on Wikipedia. Many of the advantages that I covered can also be considered disadvantages, depending on the situation.
Due to the objective and neutral nature of Wikipedia pages, embellishments and “marketing speak” will be removed from listings. It is critical that business owners understand they do not ultimately have control, and/or censorship, over the information that appears in their Wikipedia listing. A Wikipedia listing can/will pull in negative news coverage, whether it is about a principal of the business, cases/settlements against the business, scandals, etc.
Monitoring your Wikipedia listing for accuracy, and taking the appropriate steps to correct false information requires a time commitment on behalf of your business. A high level of monitoring is necessary. At a minimum, the page must be reviewed on a weekly basis. Information must be regularly provided so that the listing is kept current and updated as events/milestones occur.
There are many skilled PR professionals out there who can discuss with you in more depth the pros and cons of having a Wikipedia page. What do I consider to be the most important fact associated with this topic? As with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, you can’t prevent a Wikipedia listing about your business from being created, so you may as well be a part of the conversation.