5 lessons we learned experimenting SlideShare as a visual blog

SlideShare is a great platform for visual content and an amazing company: in just a few years, it has become the YouTube of presentations, one of the Top 150 sites in the world with an impressive 3 Billion views per month from 60 million unique visitors. Perhaps like many others, I originally thought of SlideShare as a platform to use only on specific occasions: when I had talked at a conference, when we had produced great slides worth sharing or when we had something specifically visual to communicate. I had had great experience and results but I don’t talk to conferences every day and so I sometimes felt I was missing out. And then, one night of September last year, I heard Jason Miller present at one of our #leancontent events and it became all clear: the team and I realized we could use SlideShare in a very different way – not just as a tool to recycle and share what you already created for other purposes but as a media channel that we would update on a regular basis. In a word, as a visual blog.

We decided to try it: over the next few months, we tried to publish at least every other week to SlideShare, integrating it in our content calendar alongside our blog and our Scoop.it content curations.

These are the first results after 4 months running this experiment.

(All data below is from SlideShare analytics.)

The results over 4 months: 12 slideshares, 2 infographics, 2 videos and 1 million eyeballs

The first thing I’m pleased with is that we did keep the rythm: we had set up a target of 1 piece of content every other week and we ended up producing 14 in 4 months so actually close to weekly. More interestingly, it felt natural and we didn’t spend a dime outsourcing to anyone (except for the videos: I’ll come back to that).

Traffic-wise, we were very happy with the results. As you can see from the above data, we hadn’t published much content since the previous year when we used a slideshare to announce our integration with… SlideShare. Our traffic until September was close to non-existent but it rapidly ramped up in October and remained consistent since then.

If you look at the above chart, you can see not all Slideshare content performed equally. We can easily split them into 3 categories:

  • Hits: 2 presentations did ~60k views, ie 50% of our traffic (one was an original one, the other a repurposed blog post);
  • Average content did 16k views but with a median of 9.5k;
  • Flops: 3 pieces didn’t even make it to 1,000 views (more on that below).

So what can we learn from that diversity of success?

The Hollywood model – (or does repurposing content work?)

Slideshare can be impressive: browsing the homepage, you can easily feel overwhelmed by the gorgeous designs and the powerful ideas of the featured presentations. It feels like there are weeks of work for any of these presentations.

The keyword to being able to publish SlideShare weekly is: repurpose. Tweet this.

Think of what Hollywood does when they adapt successful books into movies: it’s still work and it doesn’t always work but it makes the bet easier to take. So we not only turned blog stories into slideshares but we also recycled some slides from one presentation to another. By giving it a different context, we created a new remix supporting a new story.

So over 4 months, 10 of the 16 pieces we produced were original stories (with sometimes some common slides), the rest being repurposed pieces.

While the time to produce them was not the same, we were pleased to see that performance was equivalent with our best slideshare over the period actually being repurposed from one of our successful blog posts.

What are the rules to create a successful Slideshare presentation?

There are lots of tips on that topic, starting with the SlideShare blog. Our main learning on this is that when you’re giving a presentation, it doesn’t really matter what your first slide says: people are here already and what you’re going to say is what’s important. But when readers see your slideshares, they only have your content to decide whether or not to click and read it. And then they don’t have your voice over to decide to click on.

To keep viewers engaged, your slideshares need to read like comic books. Tweet this.

Let’s take some examples. Here’s one that didn’t work well:

These are the slides from a talk we gave and that went fantastically well… as a talk. We had people engaged, asking questions: it was a hit. But as a Slideshare, it did miserably compared to the rest.

Why is that?

Looking at it in retrospect, we published it too quickly without taking the time to adapt it:
The cover doesn’t say much: who’s she? Who’s the statue? How does it relate to the title?
Clicking-through, why is Ptolemy there? (In his talk, Marc made a fantastic introduction using Ptolemy and history to put things in a 2,000 year perspective; but without this oral explanation, few people got that from just reading the slides).
We use our own new words such as “humanrithm” without defining them (again, Marc of course did that in his talk).

Now let’s look at this other example:

Important point: it doesn’t have more words. But each sentence together with the picture creates meaning that reads nicely. Each visual has been carefully selected to be good looking and reinforce the message. It reads easily like a comic book.

What kind of formats perform the best on SlideShare between presentations, infographics and videos?

The majority of our content was made of presentations though we did experiment with videos and infographics. But overall most of our traffic has been coming from presentations.

Now, while the above chart is brutal, let me nuance it.

First, we only had 2 videos and 2 infographics.

Second, infographics actually got a lot more views by being distributed as jpegs directly on blogs or on the Scoop.it platform: while embeds are great for presentations (see below), people don’t seem to bother much with infographics and prefer to take the original picture.

Third, when looking at ROI, the infographics are actually not that bad as we didn’t over invest in them thanks to a great tool called PiktoChart – this will probably require a follow-up post as we had many attempts at doing infographics before finding some relative success.

Finally, videos were also distributed on YouTube so the views are actually a bit higher. The cost (and time) of producing videos are actually more significant though so the ROI is not proven to us at this point (but we’ll persevere so stay tuned!).

How can you optimize for SEO on SlideShare?

About 70% of SlideShare traffic comes from search which is what makes it really cool: you get your content seen by people who are really interested in it. We found that adding keywords on Slideshare was essential but that the title actually mattered a lot. A lot of our Slideshare pieces are now ranking highly on Google search results, specifically for keywords combination that were included in the title.

How much traffic does embedded content generate?

This is the last but perhaps more important one. If your content is just staying on SlideShare, you’re missing out. Overall, we had a 4x uplift from having our content embedded on blogs, websites and of course the Scoop.it platform itself.

To optimize this, you can scoop your slides to your own Scoop.it topics where they’ll be nicely embedded but also suggest it for other Scoopiteers to curate. You can also reach out to bloggers who might be interested in that topic and that you’ve previously identified and built a relationship with.

 

Using SlideShare as a visual blog platform has been a great decision for us: not only did it deliver awesome visibility but we learned a lot on how to iterate our content and make it more impacting per se. If you’re not using SlideShare yet, we’d encourage you to try it. And if you are, we’d love to hear additional thoughts and learnings!

About Guillaume Decugis

Co-Founder & CEO of Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Skier. Gamer. Blogging without blogging here: http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis