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Risk Management Bulletin

Why you don’t need – or want – a Wikipedia listing

By May 4, 2015No Comments
Wikipedia can be a good resource for lots of information, and because of its high-profile visibility about 8 million page views PER HOUR in North American alone it’s no wonder businesses view a Wikipedia listing as a penultimate achievement in their marketing strategy. But is Wikipedia all it’s cracked up to be for small- to medium-sized businesses? In most cases, no. Here’s why:
Wikipedia is editable by anyone. That means any person a disgruntled customer, a competitor, an unhappy vendor or just a random stranger can edit your company information, and if you aren’t prepared to constantly surveil your page to hunt down and immediately change erroneous information, you could wind up projecting an image that’s extremely damaging to your brand.
It was just three years ago that a misspoken sentence by Alaska politician Sarah Palin caused havoc at Wikipedia’s page on Paul Revere. When Palin said Revere had announced the arrival of British soldiers by ringing a bell during his famous ride to Lexington, supporters ran to the Wikipedia page to change its contents to match Palin’s misstatements. In return, historians and Palin detractors re-edited the page in a series of salvos that lasted for days.
Of course, that’s an extreme case on a very public page. But considering how easily those edits were made most edits appear as soon as any change is made it’s not hard to see how having your business on a publicly-editable page can pose significant reputational risks.
The cardinal rule in putting your name on a publicly available site: Make sure you have control over the content. That means keeping track of comments on your social sites and blog and amending privacy settings to give you the most control over who sees what.
Wikipedia was designed to be a public exchange of information, facts and data, but its openness has left it open to considerable misuse and abuse. Steer clear of the controversy and focus instead on improving your presence on other platforms to take some of the risk out of reputation management.