Social media consultants rarely even mention Wikipedia, let alone include it as part of a social strategy. But recent changes to the site could change that.
Wikipedia is turning over a new leaf. According to this article in The Independent, Wikipedia’s new open initiatives include “a simplified user interface and a better-publicised API to attract developers.” What that means is that Wikipedia is likely to attract new audiences, both users and contributors.
Despite Wikipedia’s strict editing guidelines, editors can find ways to provide value on the site and ultimately drive traffic or build audiences. You just have to be smart and not greedy. The place to start is to build a presence on the site. If you contribute by editing existing articles, other editors can see that you are actively engaged and not just trying to add spammy links. As you build credibility, you can judicously add relevant links to appropriate URLs.
The results can be impressive. For example, I grew a group on LinkedIn to more than 9,000 members in about 2.5 years. I attribute that growth largely to a link I put on Wikipedia. Due to my work on Wikipedia (which includes several hundred edits), I now have a group of 9,000 users that I can email anytime I want.
So if your social strategy does not include Wikipedia, maybe you should think how it will. Until then, you are missing the opportunity to tap into the audience of one of the web’s top ten most visited websites.