If you are not using the SlideShare social platform to promote your company you are missing out on one of the business world’s best-kept marketing secrets.
SlideShare averaged 60 million unique visitors a month in Q4 of 2013, making it one of the top 120 most-visited Web sites in the world. SlideShare is also a popular destination for entrepreneurs, attracting more traffic from business owners than does Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn (which acquired SlideShare in 2012).
“SlideShare has migrated to the top of the entrepreneur’s list of storytelling venues,” says Cathy Atkins, co-founder of Metis Communications in Boston. “SlideShare provides an easy way for startups to share their expertise with large target audiences across social platforms, and in a format that can be as easy to consume as an old-fashioned flipbook.”
Here’s how to make the most of the platform.
1. Focus on the audience.
When planning your content, think less about what you want to say, and more about what the audience needs.
“As with ebooks, infographics, white papers and other premium content, SlideShare presentations should give the reader something he needs, something that helps him do his job better and something that doesn’t overtly sell,” adds Atkins.
App marketing expert and AppMasters.co co-founder Steve Young, whose thirteen SlideShares have nearly 250,000 views, also recommends sticking to business-related content, noting that “quotes and tactics are best for Slideshare.”
2. Tell a story.
Because of its linear format, SlideShare “is a natural storytelling medium,” says David Erickson, VP of Online Marketing at Minneapolis public relations firm Karwoski & Courage. This makes SlideShare well-suited for presenting case studies, business problems and their solution, how-to’s and product demonstrations.
But since you won’t be there to narrate the presentation, “don’t just upload a presentation that you gave live without optimizing it for SlideShare,” cautions Ginny Soskey, a Section Editor at Hubspot. If you're going to publish your slides from your latest talk or a product demo, says Soskey, make sure to add in slides or content to fill in the story blanks. You can even use tools such as Slidecast to embed a voiceover into your presentation.
3. Use compelling visuals.
Just like with any other social medium, compelling visuals are important for capturing and sustaining people’s attention on SlideShare.
“One of the keys to a successful SlideShare presentation is great visual design, especially for the opening slide, which serves as the thumbnail image for SlideShare search results as well as the image that accompanies social shares,” adds Erickson.
SlideShare marketers agree: the number of images per presentation jumped 53 percent in 2013, while the number of words dropped 29 percent, to an average of 29 words per slide. In fact, as Kathleen Booth, owner and CEO of Annapolis-based Quintain Marketing notes, “the best SlideShare presentations actually just have one idea or thought per slide.”
While there are differing opinions on the ideal length for a SlideShare presentation, keeping things short and to the point may be your best bet: SlideShare research shows that the average number of slides per presentation fell by four slides in 2013, from 18.8 to 14.4. (It’s worth noting that SlideShare published its research in a 30-slide presentation).
4. Include a call-to-action.
Before you upload your presentation, make sure that you’ve included at least one call-to-action. SlideShare allows you to embed hyperlinks in the slides themselves (although not in the first three slides), or you can go a step further and embed full-blown lead conversion forms using a tool such as LeadShare, says Booth.
But remember that if you’re going to ask for something, you’ll need to make sure your content is worth the trade.
“When publishing any content, you have to think about the ‘give to get’ rule: You must give (education, entertainment, utility) before you can get (leads, business, fandom),” says Peter Sena, founder and Executive Creative Director of New Haven-based creative marketing agency DigitalSurgeons.
5. Promote your content.
It’s up to you to get your presentation seen and shared, so be sure to promote it across all of your marketing channels, including your blog and social media. Atkins also suggests breaking your presentation up into multiple social images to share via Twitter and Facebook, sharing it via customer newsletters and even promoting it within employee email signatures where appropriate.
Also, don’t forget to optimize your presentation for search: 20 percent of SlideShare’s site traffic comes from Google searches. Erickson recommends using relevant keywords in the title, description and tags on
SlideShare, as well as including rich notes in the transcript of your presentation. If you’ve added an audio soundtrack, you can also upload it to YouTube and optimize the video for search visibility the same way you would your presentation on SlideShare.
One final tip: make sure you’ve optimized your profile page with your relevant background and experience, Erickson says, so people know that you’re a trusted source of information on your topic.
Ready to get started? Here’s a great collection of SlideShare presentations to check out for inspiration.