The Ultimate Guide To Hitting The Front Page on SlideShare

by Gregory Ciotti on Jul 03, 2012

In the social media world, it always seems like the “sexy” entrants get all of the attention.

It’s easy for people to talk about things like Pinterest; it’s image focused, it’s beautifully designed, and it’s easy to use.

But there are plenty of people seeing success with LinkedIn, Tumblr, and other social networks that do not get the top headline very often.

Today, if you’ve never had the pleasure of generating more traffic, leads, and sales to your business from PowerPoint presentations (yes, you read that correctly), I’d like to be the first guy to introduce you to the powers of SlideShare.

No Seriously, You’re Joking… Right?

I know it may seem like blasphemy to say that a platform that focuses on hosting PowerPoint presentations can be as effective as something like Pinterest, but hear me out.

The fact is, slideshows are already being used in some of the most viral content on the net.

You’ve likely seen Forbes’ “Richest People in America” list… did you notice that it’s actually a slideshow?

Similarly, monster social media sites like Mashable liberally use slideshows for content that garners some of it’s highest share numbers: check out this post on YouTube tips & tricks that has thousands of shares… and guess what, it’s a slideshow too.

Last but not least, you have sites that are huge on content marketing embracing SlideShare with a noticeable fervor.

Salesforce loves SlideShare, claiming:

I see SlideShare as a virtual bookshelf, or a library in the cloud, where we can make our best content more discoverable to a diverse audience.

Content marketing giants HubSpot have also fallen for SlideShare, having one of the most informative & active accounts on the platform.

On a recent post about the platform, HubSpot has this to say:

One of the most powerful forms of social media for B2B companies is presentations.

Presentations span all aspects of the company from sales and marketing to product development and human resources.

At HubSpot we love SlideShare… [it’s] a useful instrument in [our] inbound marketing tool belt.

And plenty of other brands have stumbled onto the secrets of Slideshare, using the powerful audience of Slideshare for brand awareness.

This might come as a surprise, but if we dig into why SlideShare really works, you can see why even big companies are glad to invest time into it.

Presentations Appeal to More People than You Think

The reason I feel that most people underestimate SlideShare is that they associate it strictly with PowerPoint, and PowerPoint is likely not going to bring up any cherished memories… in fact it’s likely to make you bored just thinking about all of the old, crappy presentations you’ve sat through over the years.

The thing is, people do love images, and the web has accustomed them to shorter, more “bite-sized” content.

In this regard, SlideShare let’s you deliver in spades.

This isn’t a platform for your highschool project on Photosynthesis!

SlideShare has become a platform to engage, entertain, and inform with the potent combination of powerful images and concise information.

Even though SlideShare has been found to have a largely professional audience (more so than LinkedIn!), the visual appeal of many of it’s presentations means that a presentation can find success coming from nearly any topic (more on this later).

SlideShare is Bigger than You Think

Here are some quick numbers on the “quiet giant of content marketing”:

  • It is one of the top 150 websites in the world
  • 60 million visitors a month
  • Has 500% more traffic from business owners than any other professional website
  • 3 billion slide views per month

…and it’s still growing.

We’ve all seen how “getting in early” plays a role in building a following on practically every platform.

From the YouTube stars who started back in ’05 to the biggest profiles on Google+ who embraced the platform from day 1, it’s clear: if you see promise in a content marketing outlet, get aboard sooner rather than later.

Okay, Sounds Good, but I Don’t Have Any Design Skills!

One of the reasons that I think sites like Pinterest and Twitter get so much press (outside of their admitted usefulness) is that they are so easy to use.

The barrier to entry is low, so everybody can partake.

It’s the reason why you see quality YouTube channels take off like they do: not only is YouTube extremely popular, but the barrier to entry is quite high, at least in comparison to setting up a Facebook page.

Quality video equipment, extensive editing: building a YouTube video can be tough. Building them consistently can literally be a full time job.

That’s what I think holds back people from getting on board with SlideShare: they see the value in creating presentations, but they feel like they don’t have the design skills necessary to get started.

In today’s web though, you honestly don’t need any.

Not only does Microsoft itself offer free PowerPoint templates, sites like GraphicRiver have popped up that offer an amazing selection of templates from professional designers.

Here’s the PowerPoint section on GraphicRiver.

Many of them are quite stunning, and even if you don’t have a lick of Photoshop talent in you, you can still make a great presentation.

While a beautiful presentation does help you chances of succeeding on SlideShare, I have to note that design certainly isn’t everything.

It’s more of the manner of how you present your information, and the quality (or entertainment value) of that information that effects how well your slides perform.

Hitting the Front Page of SlideShare

I’m going to tell you how I hit the homepage of SlideShare with my first upload, and what lessons you can take from it in terms of creating presentations that SlideShare loves and how to promote those presentations.

Here’s me hitting the homepage:

And here is the presentation that did it:

I know, it’s a SlideShare about SlideShare, so meta.

So, how did I do it?

Two very simple steps:

  1. Figure out the kind of presentations that do well
  2. Promote my presentation

So, let’s break it down…

Which Presentations That do Well on SlideShare?

A successful presentation on SlideShare can essentially be summed up by 3 key aspects:

  1. The appeal of the title slide
  2. Good integration of images & text
  3. The hyper-focus on a good topic

Let’s dive into what each of these mean.

1. Your Title Slide is Like a Blog Post Headline

Marketers know about the importance of writing magnetic headlines; your headline can be the single most important part of getting your post read and shared.

Whereas great headlines need to be specific and evoke excitement and interest from the potential reader, title slides need to stand out and intrigue eyes with bold statements and design.

Check out this presentation, which is one of the most popular on SlideShare:

While the content is great, the title slide definitely played a huge part in this presentation getting viewed over 740,000 times.

The bright circle contrasts the black and white background faces, the title itself is eye-catching (“I suck at PowerPoint?!”), and the retro look makes it feel unusual in contrast to the other ‘sleeker’ offerings that likely hit the homepage at the same time.

In the same way that YouTube thumbnails are often exploited (with pictures of scantily clad women), the title slide will guarantee more clicks if it attracts attention, but as you’ve seen, it doesn’t take scantily clad women to achieve this effect, it just takes pop!

2. The Image + Text Combo is Your Bread & Butter on SlideShare

While presentations with a lot of big, bold text can do well on SlideShare, the most potent combo in your presentation arsenal is the Image + Text combo.

This either means “captioning” captivating images with text, or using image slides that are followed up with text tides (to explain the image).

In general, presentations all of the following limitation: you have to get a lot of value across quickly.

In the same way the big YouTubers usually stick to 3-6 minute videos, your slideshow needs to provide value, without taking forever to get to the point.

This is why powerful images and concise bits of text are needed: the images help make the presentation memorable, the text gives value and keeps people reading.

You won’t be able (in most instances) to dive into extensive detail on a user-friendly slideshow.

Focus on providing “quotables”, powerful tidbits of information, rather than going into too much depth: a slideshow should be the “essentials” of a long post boiled down into a healthy 10-25 slides (possibly more, if you can keep it entertaining).

3. Laser Focus on a Single Topic Makes for a Better Presentation

If there is one thing that I’ve noticed about SlideShare, it’s that the audience there isn’t looking for “How to Use Twitter” style presentations.

They know already, this is a business crowd that wants good information on a singular topic, going too broad and too basic can actually hurt you on this platform.

It’s still perfectly fine to target “beginners” on SlideShare though, just do it in a topic that isn’t totally obvious for people who have at least minimal experience online.

For instance, I did a presentation on “Link Building for Bloggers” (for First State SEO), which you can view below:

As you can see, the information is not overly complex: I’m not diving into link building like I would if I were writing an SEOmoz post.

However, link building is something many newer bloggers might be unfamiliar with, so I gave a great outline to get started. As a result, the post has been well received.

And that’s really the key with SlideShare (as it is with video): pick a topic and really get to the good stuff quickly. You don’t have an extended time to hold people’s attention through this medium, so deliver specific value in a very concise manner.

How to Get Views on SlideShare

So, presentations make for an overall great addition to your inbound marketing arsenal, but the magic really happens on SlideShare when you can hit the homepage.

But what if you don’t already have a big audience to leverage on your own blog?

How can you get the initial views necessary for your presentation to be picked up on the homepage?


You should write posts for other people.

One of the big parts of my very first upload hitting the homepage of SlideShare was that I featured it in a guest post on DailyBlogTips entitled Increasing Blog Traffic with SlideShare.

I’m also featuring it in this post!

The thing is, with presentations (as well with videos, which is why they are so great for marketing), there is no risk of a duplicate content penalty, and since it’s a form of media, it’s welcomed to be used multiple times.

Think about viral YouTube videos: they get embedded on tons of sites, not just one.

If you want views for your presentations, be sure to include them when appropriate, it’s not like you’re copy & pasting old blog content that will hurt search engine rankings, you’re simply using a relevant piece of media that you created.

It exposes your work to a new audience, and as you pick up these views, you’ll also get attention from the SlideShare community, which is when crazy stuff like this happens:

Those emails were less than an hour apart from each other!

That’s the power of hitting the SlideShare homepage, and doing it multiple times will do wonders for your brand recognition and traffic, again, just look at how much HubSpot uses SlideShare.

Over To You…

I know that’s a lot to digest at once, but I want to hear your opinions!

  1. What are some ways that your brand could use presentations as a great inbound marketing resource?
  2. How could you put your own unique ‘spin’ on a presentation to break the norm of those “boring” PowerPoint slideshows of the past?

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the comments!