Wikis have much bigger implications for your brand and reputation than most of us ever considered, according to Marcia Watson and Marcus Messner of the University of Miami. Research into this element of “New Media” was one of the most interesting of the conference.
Their conclusions were downright alarming and if you haven’t been paying attention to Wikipedia in the past, start now. Marcia and Marcus compared entries on top Fortune 500 companies in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Needless to say the EB entries were nice, neutral, fair, balanced, etc. – only 6% were negative and 4% were positive; the rest were neutral. The Wikipedia entries were anything but. Wiki entries were three times more positive and and three times as negative -- plus they were 37% longer.
Another concern is that because of the linking capabilities inherant on Wikipedia, there may well be negative statements that appear to have originated by the company.
There is a silver lining to this cloud, however. Everyone who creates an entry in Wikipedia is listed. So not only can you get their names and emails, you can engage them in conversations and possibly even turn them around. As Marcia said, these are not people to dismiss. They are your active publics and they care enough to write about your company. PAY ATTENTION TO THEM!