How to Manage Your Direct Sales Company’s Wikipedia Entry – Guest post by Shane Martindale, XanGo

From Jennifer: I am absolutely thrilled to bring you today’s guest post from Shane Martindale, Online Buzz Marketing Manager at XanGo.  Wikipedia is something we’ve all heard of, but it can be a real challenge for direct selling companies.  What if someone who has not been successful gets in there and starts trashing your company on the Wikipedia page?  It’s not easy to get that changed.

When we want as much positive information out there as possible about our companies, a source like Wikipedia, which is not something we can control, can be a real headache.  Fortunately there are people like Shane Martindale out there, who have some great advice on how to become a part of the conversation on Wikipedia.  I was fortunate enough to present on a panel with Shane at the DSA Annual Meeting last June, where we discussed managing your brand’s reputation online.  I asked him if he’s be willing to share his expertise with us today about Wikipedia, and fortunately he agreed! His post today contains some great advice for direct sales and network marketing companies.

How to Manage Your Direct Sales Company’s Wikipedia Entry
by Shane Martindale

Shane Martindale

You’ve seen it, you’ve read from its pages, and you’ve probably quoted from it in a presentation, but if you’re like me, you wish it didn’t exist. And you cringed when you heard these dreaded words from a client or senior management;

  • “Wikipedia needs to be fixed, get on it!”
  • “Why is our Wikipedia page so crappy and negative?”
  • “It’s extremely obvious that a competitor is controlling our wiki page. Let’s do what is needed to rectify this quickly. Who wants to take the lead on this?”
  • “I need a more aggressive answer about how we intend to manage our Wikipedia entry.”

Ouch! If you’ve had any experience working with Wikipedia, you know that making changes on their site doesn’t happen overnight, aggressive tactics are taboo, and it can often take months until even a little progress can be made. There are two things you can do.

1. Educate
The first thing you need to do is help your clients and management understand that working with Wikipedia takes time and changes don’t happen overnight.

  • A Wikipedia page is a living document that anyone can contribute to or edit. Which means anything can (and will) appear on a Wikipedia page.
  • Content should be written from a neutral point of view. It’s a guarantee that information that is heavy with marketing will be edited or deleted.
  • Facts should be well cited and referenced. Remember, while not everything is notable, you improve your content’s level of stickiness by providing up to date and high quality supporting documentation.

2. Participate
Contribute in areas that may have no relevance to your business or your clients.  Demonstrate you’re genuinely committed to increasing the quality of the Wikipedia project and its content. Find something you are interested in or passionate about and share what you know. Here are a few tips on how to start participating (without getting banned).

  • Step 1: Click on the ‘discussion’ tab of the article to figure out what other details are being discussed about the page. Get to know what’s going on in the history of a page – especially if it’s a page about you or your business.
  • Step 2: Write on the discussion pages to reach out to other editors who care about the topic.  You can present information, links, facts, and not worry about having your visible edits reverted.
  • Step 3: Start small. Don’t try to rewrite the entire page. Make a small edit or update here and there over time. There is an old proverb that reminds us “that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” That’s the real key to working with Wikipedia.
  • Step 4: Reach out to the volunteer-powered user service system.  Send your inquiries about a page to info@wikimedia.org.  Highlight the issue, the article/link in question and be as precise as possible in describing the issue.  If you want a fact corrected, make sure the correct information is available and public.  Has the fact been widely reported by a media outlet? Can it be found on a corporate website or trusted blog?  If a Wikipedian can’t cite a fact, it’s hard to change or add to the article.

Does this take time? Absolutely! It takes careful thought, a simple step-by-step plan and flexibility to evolve as others add and edit the page. Eventually, you’ll gain enough momentum to start seeing the results.

About the Author:
Shane Martindale joined XanGo in March 2009 to lead the strategic search engine and social media strategies to help the company continue to increase global visibility and support distributor success.

A strategic guru and highly effective global marketer and businessman, Shane brings to the position nearly 15 years of business with a reputation for developing and directing successful online business and marketing initiatives. Shane’s previous experience includes Senior Marketing Manager at Nu Skin Enterprises, where he was responsible for developing new online marketing initiatives and enhancing brand value. Most recently, he led search engine and social media marketing as Senior Web Marketing Manager at Mona Vie.

Drawing upon his experience and strategic skills, Shane is focusing XanGo’s social media efforts on highlighting the unique XanGo opportunity, reinforcing the company culture and opening doors of distributor communications that set XanGo apart from the competition.

Shane and his wife have three children. Shane is an avid outdoors enthusiast and enjoys spending time in nature with his family.  Check out his website at shanemartindale.com.

3 Responses to How to Manage Your Direct Sales Company’s Wikipedia Entry – Guest post by Shane Martindale, XanGo
  1. Dino Baskovic
    November 8, 2010 | 12:41 pm

    Great post overall, Shane. Allow me to offer a few caveats:

    1. Take caution when attempting to “make edits” as you suggest, particularly if you’re not already an active Wikipedian or you’ve only recently activated an account for the purposes of editing your own entry. Other Wikipedia editors will see right through that and override your edits, even if you are well-intentioned. That said, there is no rule written or unwritten that says you can’t suggest edits via the discussions, and provided you clearly identify yourself and state your intentions, you at least stand a chance.

    2. It takes time—more than companies care to admit—to wield enough influence on Wikipedia to steer the direction of a Wiki entry. Wikipedians are a loyal, dedicated, tireless folk that typically contribute on a wide range of topics and just don’t author or edit for one page. It’s a bit clicky, too, but those are the velvet ropes. Even if you become an active and accepted Wikipedian yourself over time, Wikipedia is very clear that is practically a cardinal sin to edit your company’s own Wiki entry, particularly when it’s for a big company. It’s a trust thing, plain and simple. There are processes as stated in Wikipedia policies to rid an entry of truly malicious and/or libelous claims as well as outright falsehoods or disinformation, though these methods can prove either unreliable and/or dreadfully slow.

    3. Probably the best advice I ever got on the subject was from David Krejci—no, not the star center for the Boston Bruins but the senior vice president of digital and social media for Weber Shandwick Worldwide in Minneapolis. “Wikipedia is your best gauge of SEO as well as online reputation,” he once told me. Utterly brilliant. Assuming you are doing a well enough job of keeping key messages in check and critics in their place, then your Wikipedia entry will do just fine over time.

    That said, there are detractors. I manage the social media and online PR team for Amway, and yes we’d love nothing more than to see a few Wiki entries cleaned up. Attempts were made years ago that didn’t bear the results we would’ve liked, so we’re starting again. It’s a gradual process but one that I am confident will pay off immensely with proper care and feeding over the long term.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 8, 2010 | 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom on this topic Dino! I know you’ve certainly had your experiences with Wikipedia as well. I love how folks are so willing to share here for the benefit of all. Thank you!

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