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Marketing Tips

Wikipedia: Anonymous Marketing

By Theda C. Snyder

Is Wikipedia an authoritative source?

Wikipedia is often ridiculed because anyone can post pretty much anything. And yet, many people, including 3 billion Americans in April 2022, head there for information. Professors report finding large sections of text in their students’ submissions plagiarized from Wikipedia. Seems like lots of people would say: Yes, Wikipedia is an authoritative source.

Clients and Prospects May Research Wikipedia to See If They Need Legal Advice

People use what they learn on Wikipedia to research which lawyer to choose. They may use the site to “fact-check” the advice you offer. You can use Wikipedia’s deep market penetration to market your own practice.

My Story

Back in 2006, a new tax management tool became available. Created to qualify as an installment sale, the structured sale offered a number of capital gain management benefits.

My goal was to be the structured sale expert for tax professionals, real estate sales organizations and business brokers. Of course, I incorporated this information into my marketing efforts, but at this time there were few accessible, “authoritative” sources. When people see marketing materials about an intriguing, unfamiliar topic, they hunt for more information. At that time, Googling “structured sales” did not produce an easily understood resource.

I created a Wikipedia article to explain structured sales in plain language. In my article, I included links to the existing Wikipedia articles on installment sales and like-kind exchanges, and I edited those articles to link back to my article.

The Good and the Bad of Wikipedia Marketing

Anonymous marketing may be the ultimate oxymoron. Isn’t the point of marketing to entice clients to find you?

Creating or editing a Wikipedia post need not be completely anonymous. Readers can click on the history tab to see who has been writing. You can describe yourself and promote your practice on your user page.

Writing a Wikipedia article creates a resource that search engines can find. The original author shapes the dialogue. Subsequent editors can change what you have written, but they are unlikely to reorganize the way you have laid out the information.

The problem is when later writers introduce incorrect information or edit in a way that undercuts the usefulness of the post. (One of my first editors removed the links to the other Wikipedia articles.) The article “Personal Injury Lawyers” has been edited more than 500 times.

This can be frustrating. You can monitor your article for errors, but you probably don’t have time for that, let alone the time to re-edit. And somebody can change it right back. Still, with appropriate disclaimers, you can refer clients and prospects to your article. Presumably, you will also direct them to your other publications on the subject.

Is This an Effective Marketing Tool?

Creating a Wikipedia post is never going to top your list of marketing outreach tools. But when you want to create a resource about a little-known topic and influence search engine results, this may be a good choice.

Photo by Crazy Cake on Unsplash 

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Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at SnyderMediations.com and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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