A wiki (pronounced “we-kee”) is simply a web-based collaborative work space where people can write and edit articles (i.e., “pages”) and share them with one another. Essentially a wiki is a lot like a traditional wiki, except people can easily collaborate and share ideas with one another via a web browser rather than having to print out pages and walk around with them. (For more on wikis, see this helpful guide from the Google Digital Marketing Blog.)
Wikis are immensely popular in different industries, but they have only recently begun to emerge in the digital marketing space. The advantages of using a wiki for your online marketing efforts simply cannot be overstated. Consider the following:
- Highly flexible – You can adapt the content and use cases for your own purposes, as long as you have access to the source material.
- Familiar – If you’re already intimately familiar with wikis as a concept, then it’s no surprise that they’ve begun to emerge in the digital marketing space.
- Searchable – Because it’s a web-based platform, any article you post to a wiki is already searchable via common search engines like Google and Bing.
- Self-healing – Should anyone post an inaccurate or harmful article, it will eventually be corrected or removed by the community, ensuring an accurate information source for future visitors.
- Accessible – For those who are visually impaired, the content on a wiki is accessible through the use of alternative fonts, color contrasts, and screen readers. (Learn more about accessibility options here.)
- Secure – You can rest assured that information you input on a wiki is encrypted and secure, as it is connected to a highly reputable company (e.g., Google or Facebook).
- Open – Wikis are highly customizable, meaning you have a virtually endless number of content options to choose from. Anyone can contribute content, and new users are afforded instant credibility simply by their existence on such a platform.
- Social – Thanks to the growing importance of social media in today’s world, wikis are an ideal resource for users to share and showcase their work, which in turn, exposes your brand to a potentially vast audience.
- Convenient – Because a wiki is such a basic and fundamental tool for online marketers, many large enterprises have adopted them as an efficient and organized way to generate, collect, and disseminate marketing-related content.
Why Should You Use a Wiki in Your Online Marketing?
If you’re wondering why you should use a wiki in your online marketing, then the following should provide you with a pretty good idea:
One of the main reasons why you should use a wiki in your online marketing is because of its flexibility. Unlike many other content types (e.g., blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, and websites), you can easily change the content on a wiki as needed, meaning you can take advantage of the asset as it evolves.
Let’s say you run a small business with four employees. Each employee spends about 10 hours per day working for your business. With a traditional marketing piece, you would have to keep coming back to the office to make changes, as much as three times a week, at the very least. With a wiki, those same changes can be made and improved upon, as needed, without leaving the office. (For more on the importance of content flexibility, see Content Strategy For Dummies, 2nd Edition.)
One of the reasons why you should use a wiki in your online marketing is because of its versatility. Unlike many other content types, you can use a wiki in several different ways, each of which has its own strengths. For example:
- As a knowledge base – Should you decide to use a wiki as a knowledge base, you can create a “wiki dump” of all the info you already have on the topic, or create a space for new employees to collaborate on projects. A wiki dump is useful for distributing information among colleagues or students, as it is essentially a collection of facts and figures that can be accessed by anyone with internet access. (More on wiki dumps here.)
- As a digital scrapbook – For those who are passionate about photography, a wiki can serve as a quick and easy way to store, organize, and share their photos. Once you’ve created a wiki, you can start using it as a photo album, complete with thumbnails and descriptive captions.
- As a central location for collecting articles – If you decide to use a wiki as a central location for collecting and curating articles related to your industry, you can start by using a specialized tool, like Pressbooks, to gather those articles. Once they’re all collected, you can simply publish it as a web-based asset, making it easily accessible to anyone in your industry who might find it useful.
- As a digital catalog – If you decide to use a wiki as a digital catalog, you can start by creating a page for each item in your inventory (e.g., a product, service, or event), giving it a brief description, and including any relevant pictures. From there, you can start using the wiki as a virtual shopping cart, allowing customers to add those items to their cart, while you continue to manage your inventory.
- As a quick-reference guide – For those who work in an industry where design and innovation are a daily part of the job, a wiki is an ideal place to keep up with the ever-changing world of design. As a quick-reference guide, you can create a space, where users can submit and vote on design templates, giving you an up-to-date resource for business needs. (For more on using wikis for design-related content, see this helpful guide from the WordPress Support Forums.)
One of the biggest advantages of a wiki in your online marketing is its searchable nature. Because an article on a wiki is already digital, it can be easily searched via a search engine like Google or Bing. Not only will it show up when someone is looking for information on your topic, but it will also be the first place that person comes back to, time and time again, on their journey to find that info.
Let’s say you’ve decided to create a wiki for your business. You’ve picked a topic in your industry that you know will be of interest to your target audience, and you decide to call it “Wiki of Choice.” The first thing you should do is create a page on your wiki with the heading “Wiki of Choice.” From there, you can start including content related to your chosen topic, using the “discussion” feature, which allows users to engage with one another via a comment section at the bottom of each page. (Learn more about creating and using a wiki in your digital marketing efforts here.)
When someone decides to search for “Wiki of Choice,” your page will show up as a result, because it will satisfy the search query perfectly. From there, the person can click on your page’s link to navigate directly to that article, rather than having to click on a link to a page that happens to have that article on it.
As an aside, it is also possible to create a “Google Alert” for specific terms found in an article on your wiki. Doing so will notify you whenever those terms are used on the internet, providing you with a steady stream of content that you can monitor and respond to, as needed. (See here for more on creating and using Google Alerts.)
One of the main reasons why you should use a wiki in your online marketing is because of its self-healing feature. Thanks to the shared nature of a wiki, any article posted there is virtually impossible to remove, as it will always be tied to a specific user’s name. (This is a fundamental difference between a wiki and a traditional blog, which we’ll discuss in more detail in the near future.)
Let’s say you’ve created a wiki for your SEO company and have decided to include an article about SEO best practices. Someone decides to post an incredibly harmful comment about a certain competitor, essentially calling them out for being unethical. Thanks to the self-healing feature, you can simply delete that comment, rather than having to hunt down the person who wrote it and deleting it yourself. (For more on deleting comments, see this helpful guide from the HubSpot Blog.)