Have you ever looked at a Wikipedia article, or at online documentation for a product or service you’ve purchased online? Chances are you’ve looked at a wiki, even if you haven’t realised it!
Simply, a wiki is system that allows many people to collaboratively edit content online. In the case of Wikipedia, the wiki’s users are collaborating to create and maintain the world’s largest free encyclopedia online, with over three million articles created in English alone to date. Companies such as Intel Corporation, Adobe and even NASA use wikis to provide ‘how to’ guides for their products which its customers can help to correct, and to share information amongst employees.
With that said, there are plenty of uses for wikis in smaller businesses, too!
1. Wikis for product documentation
Wikis can be fantastic for maintaining up-to-date product information online, and it’s not just larger businesses that can benefit from this. Smaller businesses can make use of wikis as an addition to their current website, allowing their customers to add their own hints and tips to pre-populated help articles.
Managed correctly, wikis used in this manner can contribute to a healthy community around your business or organisation, and improve your products well in to the future!
2. Wikis as an intranet
Wikis are also useful for teams of any size to share and collate information, for:
- Specific projects a team within your organisation are working on. You can use a wiki to collect notes from your project meetings, as a message board to post up-coming project deadlines and meetings and to maintain a troubleshooting list of problems you need to overcome before the project can be delivered.
- An intranet portal for all of your employees. You can use a wiki within your internal office system as the ‘homepage’ in employees’ web browsers, allowing them to see the latest news within their department and across the company.
You can customise wikis to include calendars from services such as Google Calendar (handy if your organisation uses Google Apps for Domains), too. We personally use an internal wiki at Richard Carter Consultancy to share knowledge and information not just on specific projects, but across all projects we work on, aiding us to improve our knowledge with every project we undertake.
3. Wikis as a marketing tool
Finally, wikis can be a great marketing tool for your business. If your business sells bananas, setting up a BananaWiki as a wiki full of free to use information about bananas can help to promote your business as an authority in your sector: after all, you must know your bananas if you don’t feel threatened by sharing your knowledge with others!
Implemented correctly, a wiki can also help to benefit your website’s search engine rankings by providing links from highly relevant content back to your own website, and capture a new potential customer base searching for information about a specific product – such as bananas – before going on to purchase it. The wiki itself can also help to outrank your competitors (you might find our MediaWiki search engine optimisation services of interest here).
And if you’re worried that wikis look “boring” (like Wikipedia), don’t! A wiki does not have to look like a typical ‘wiki’: they can be styled to match your organisation’s branding, too: see our blog post on some stunning MediaWiki custom designs.
Whilst Wikipedia covers a huge variety of topics, wikis with more heavily niche content can be a great way to produce a content-rich website on your industry and draw customers to your primary website in the longer term. And yes, there’s quite probably a search engine benefit for your primary website!
Wikis for business
Clearly, then, there is much a wiki could help businesses of any size with, from sharing information across large teams of people to boosting your business’ profile. And if you’re interested in using a wiki for your business, we can certainly recommend some wiki consultants!