5 reasons Wikipedia matters more than you think

Why investing in the site is a better way to invest your dollars and time than Facebook or Twitter.

The biggest reason marketers and Wikipedia’s editorial community often find the relationship contentious is because companies haven’t invested the intellectual capital in meeting Wikipedia’s content needs.

We’ve made a science out of the most viral tweet, optimal Facebook post, and compelling blog and optimized landing page, but haven’t invested in ethical Wikipedia engagement.

We’re advanced users of Twitter, which has existed for six years, but haven’t figured out Wikipedia, a website almost twice as old.

I previously wrote a post “Why Wikipedia is more important than Twitter,” based on the premise that we have over-prioritized shiny objects, while ignoring a website with a larger installed readership.

When marketing leaders establish priorities based on data, instead of buzz, they often find that Wikipedia is more important than they think.

But investing in Wikipedia means persuading your boss it’s important. Here are five reasons Wikipedia matters.

1. More readers

Compiling data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that Wikipedia has more educated, adult, online readers than Facebook or Twitter. Wikipedia’s readers have more Ph.Ds than Facebook and Twitter combined and just slightly fewer readers than Facebook has members.

2. The customer lifecycle

PR raises awareness for companies and products, but the media, customers, potential employees, partners and others need a neutral and independent source for the research phase of the lifecycle.

Wikipedia isn’t at the “awareness” phase, but is at the interest or research phase. Readers come with purpose and they’re looking for information on your company, brand, heritage, reputation, leadership, products and culture. Why wouldn’t you want to help Wikipedia inform readers about your company?

3. More traffic

EthicalWiki looked at the blog, Twitter and Wikipedia “traffic” of a Fortune 500 technology company.

To get the same traffic as its Wikipedia article, the company would have to write three blogs a day for a year.

If each tweet was read by 1 percent of its followers, it would take about 1,000 tweets to reach the same number of eyeballs.

The image below shows the readership of a single blog post versus the annual readership of a Wikipedia article for a Fortune 500 company.

Try the experiment by looking at the average readership of your blog and the views of corresponding Wikipedia articles.

4. Investing for the long term

The average Facebook post or tweet has a lifespan of less than 24 hours. Increasingly organizations are investing in shorter and shorter-term ROI, but I measure the ROI of a Wikipedia project over three years and expect my efforts to remain for the foreseeable future.

The money invested in tweeting is gone in a flash, but a Wikipedia article could outlast the popularity of Facebook or Twitter. Companies that want to invest in a durable product will find Wikipedia a compelling opportunity.

5. Wikipedia is serious

Wikipedia isn’t a place for sensational headlines, thought leadership, or news-jacking.

Wikipedia is a place for serious, encyclopedic information to inform readers on a subject. Technical companies, B2B companies and those with serious products have a hard time finding visuals for Pinterest or showing personality for Twitter.

Wikipedia doesn’t require personality or entertaining content, just serious and informative information.

David King is a specialist in ethical content marketing on Wikipedia. A version of this article first appeared on Social Fresh. (Image via)

Topics: PR

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