The humble slide show has come a long way. From the Kodak carousel of Mad Men fame to the ubiquitous PowerPoint, here we are in a brave new world of social, shareable, viral-ready SlideShare presentations that can build your brand and grow your audience—if you do it right.

SlideShare, simply put, is a way to put your PowerPoint presentation online. But with 400,000 presentations added every month, it’s a crowded space. So it’s important to put in the work to make a good presentation and stand out from the crowd.

Read on to find out:

How to make a good SlideShare presentation

If you’ve ever made a PowerPoint presentation, the same rules apply to SlideShare, but even more strictly. Why? Because when you’re presenting a PowerPoint, your audience is usually already in the room, and they usually can’t just walk away.

Your SlideShare audience is not bound by the same social mores as a room full of students or colleagues, and if they get bored or distracted, you’ve lost them for good. So let’s go over some of those rules.

Start with quality content

You can’t spin gold from lead, and you can’t keep an audience’s attention with boring presentation material. Has your topic been covered a million times? Find a new way in, an angle no one has gone for yet.

But even an original idea needs to be presented right.

One simple way to get a great SlideShare together easily and quickly is find your best piece of existing content, be it a blog post, a video, a Twitter thread, or anything else that has performed well for your business. Then repurpose it into a SlideShare presentation using the tips below.

SlideShare presentations that tend to perform well recently are “Ted talk”-style creations: they take a problem or an idea that lots of people are going to be hoping to solve, and they distill it in an approachable way. They can be ambitious — see “the Future of Everything” — but at their best they are answers to a question that can carry you through a whole presentation. Lists are always a good bet.

PS: You can create your SlideShare on any presentation software. PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, or OpenOffice are all fine.

This presentation on the future of AI and technology, “Why the Future Is Up to Us” looks and feels like a TED talk. It stylishly explores the cultural context of AI in a short presentation that doesn’t get too deep into the weeds.

Source nice stock images and fonts

Clean, attractive images that have some meaning will go a long way towards emphasizing your message. They don’t need to blow your budget, either. Check out this handy list of free stock image sites you can use.

LinkedIn SlideShare’s own data suggest that content with the right images gets 94 percent more views than without. That’s a big gap you can close with a few clicks.

And it’s been said before, but forget comic sans. Burn it to the ground. Same goes for Times New Roman and all the other overused fonts. There are a plethora of great free fonts out there, and they can underline your message—serious, classy, fun, earnest, whatever you’re trying to say—without the reader even realizing it. Creative typography, strategically used, can help you drive your idea home.

Notice the use of sparse text, engaging images, and interesting typography in Jesse Desjardin’s SlideShare presentation on how to make better PowerPoint presentations. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the most popular SlideShares of all time.

Use as little text as possible

Get your message across as efficiently as possible, words-wise. SlideShare recommends 30 words or less per slide—that’s the length of this paragraph. You get one idea per slide.

That’s the golden rule of PowerPoint presentations, and it works the same way online. If you need lots of explanation to get something across, try breaking it up. Develop your idea across several slides rather than cramming them into a single intimidating slide that risks alienating or boring your audience.

This presentation on finding your life’s purpose does a great job of building ideas one short, concise sentence at a time.

Make it clear and simple

The SlideShare app gets nine times more engagement than the mobile web and desktop, according to LinkedIn. To catch the attention of those users on their tiny computers, use big fonts, clear images, and good typography. Overall, to capture those SlideShare app views, try to avoid clutter.

Lots of clear images and big, bold text make Officevibe’s SlideShare on how to show your employees love is great for viewing on mobile.

Start with your strongest slide

Put your best foot forward, slide-ly speaking. Don’t expect that your audience is necessarily going to be intrigued enough by your title or introduction that they’ll dive right in past a boring slide; give them a reason to want to be drawn in.

That means visual appeal is at least as important as enticing text. Think of it like a video thumbnail: you’re telling part of the whole story in just one frame, so choose wisely and be bold.

If this first slide in this SlideShare, “Destroy PowerPoint Zombies,” doesn’t get your attention, it’s time for another coffee. Notice the unique typeface, the jarring image, and the catchy title—it’s got the whole package.

Use analytics to your advantage

Now that you’ve put all this work in, it’s time to… do more work.

It’s not enough to just send a SlideShare presentation out into the ether and wait for the profits to start rolling in. You have to keep an eye on your creation, check up on it, and adjust your content accordingly.

LinkedIn SlideShare provides a suite of analytics including geography, sources, platforms, and more. Keeping an eye on this, as well as audience comments and shares, can help you hone in on your audience and dial in your strategy to do even better next time.

Thankfully, SlideShare has their own presentation on how to use their analytics system.

7 ways to use SlideShare for social media marketing

There’s a lot that a good SlideShare presentation can do to boost your social marketing strategy overall or to achieve specific aims, including increasing your audience, driving traffic, and increasing your B2B visibility.

Grow your audience

If your goal is to grow your web presence, there are a few ways you should look to SlideShare for help. The site gets 80 million unique visitors a month, so getting a few killer presentations out there can capture eyeballs for your business.

Google indexes SlideShare presentations too, so search engine optimization is a breeze if you’re diligent and purposeful about your language use on the platform. Be sure to craft your SEO strategy ahead of time (check out our post on SEO for social marketers for help with this), and once again, be concise to maximize the impact of all that hard work.

Drive traffic to your website

SlideShare does not allow live links in the description, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them at all. Calls to action can be included throughout the presentation (after the first three slides). They should be structured to catch your audience when they actually want to click—moments when they’re genuinely wondering, “where can I learn more about this?” That means building high-quality, informative presentations that also leave your audience wanting more.

Calls to action should also be clearly marked and, it goes without saying, directing your audience to do something. A link isn’t good enough; you need to point readers to where you want them to go. No, an arrow is not too obvious.

For more on this, check out our post on how to drive conversions on social media.

Improve your ranking on Google

With its beefy traffic numbers, SlideShare is a heavy-hitter in terms of its own Google rankings. Leverage that to bolster your own site’s ranking with a few simple tactics.

First, pick a title and keywords that are going to give you an edge over the competition. More heavily-trafficked keywords are going to be more competitive, so try for a new angle or a niche that you can really nail.

Once you know your presentation has a shot of getting noticed, check out your SlideShare profile itself to ensure it’s representing you correctly. Both your SlideShare profile and your presentations should be linking back to your site.

Promote your presentation

How do you get noticed among the 400,000 SlideShare presentations uploaded each month? Well, for one thing, SlideShare claims it gets 80 percent of its traffic from organic searches. That means you need to put your SEO best practices to work even before you upload the presentation.

The filename on your PDF when you export your presentation will become the URL slug. Naturally, “/how-to-drive-traffic-using-twitter” is going to look better to Mr. Google than “/slideshare-presentation-1-final-kathy-edits”, so make sure your filename represents your content.

And don’t skip the description! Descriptions are visible to search engines, so get your keywords in there.

From your own site, make sure you’re pointing links to the SlideShare presentation, embedding it, tweeting it, and sharing it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media you use—all the things you’d do to promote any piece of content—because each of these actions will bring the presentation that much higher in the search rankings.

Your presentation will be transcribed automatically into a text document that’s readable by search engines, so employ your SEO throughout the body of the presentation as well. SEO never sleeps.

Get email subscribers

You don’t need to limit your calls to action to links to your website. You can also include links to your newsletter, your Twitter feed — any place you want your readers to find you. Remember, live links can be inserted anywhere after the first three slides, but not in the description. But as with anything, you need to give them a reason to subscribe, and make it clear what they’re signing up for.

Build brand awareness

SlideShare is a great place to wring out more value from your existing content, exposing it to a whole new audience. You have complete control over the identity you’re portraying through your presentation, so make the most of that opportunity by integrating your branding throughout the presentation’s visual and text elements. Be creative: a small watermark in the bottom right corner of your slides can do a lot, but maybe your brand has a very specific voice that you can employ throughout your copy as well.

Whatever you do, don’t go overboard. Your presentation has to first and foremost be valuable to your audience—not one huge advertisement for your brand. Subtle and effective is the name of the game.

Get seen by other businesses

SlideShare claims it has five times as much traffic from business owners than Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. It’s also frequented by industry-leading businesses like Cisco, IBM, Samsung, and Mashable. That’s a lot of the right eyeballs potentially falling on your presentation.

Converting those views to leads is the real challenge, and where the value lies. Follow the tips above to make a killer SlideShare presentation that will convince your fellow professionals that you really are the expert and/or brand they’re looking to partner with.

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