SlideShare is an underutilized, but highly effective content channel for connecting with B2B customers. But it takes more than just uploading a slide deck from your most recent product marketing presentation to engage with your audience. So what are the keys to knocking it out of the park with SlideShare? Providing a valuable learning or entertainment experience, telling a compelling visual story, and giving your audience a way to connect with your company to go deeper on the topic. In this post, I’ll walk you through these three key elements, and give you a peek into my typical SlideShare creation process.
What Constitutes a Valuable SlideShare Experience?
SlideShare can be a great way for extending the reach of your proprietary research, nurturing your influencer relationships by co-creating content with them, or even just connecting with your audience in an unexpected way. The best SlideShare presentations leave you with the feeling you got a good return on the investment of the time you spent flipping through the slides.
To find out what resonates with your network, you’ll want to experiment with different formats and topics and see what gets the most traction. A good way to do this is by repurposing some of your current, successful content as a SlideShare.
So what kind of content works well for repurposing? Pretty much any solid, informative or entertaining piece of content that you already know your audience is interested in— whitepapers, infographics, research results, and even webinars.
Reimagining Existing Content for SlideShare
One of the most plentiful content types for many marketers is blog content, which can easily be turned into a compelling SlideShare. For example, for my client Redbooth, we had a CEO-byliner on 5 steps for getting to Inbox Zero, which I converted into this SlideShare:
So how’d I get from a good-sized blog post into a pithy SlideShare? Let me walk you through my process. First, I started by taking the blog post and dissecting it into a minimal outline:
- Intro setting up the problem
- Proposing a solution
- 5 individual steps to get there
Next, I took that minimal outline, and started fleshing out a SlideShare copy deck, pulling key points from the blog post, but rewriting them to keep them brief and to the point. Here’s what that looked like:
|Slide #||Copy||Design Notes|
|1 title slide||5 secrets to achieving an empty email inbox||Need to include a small Redbooth logo.|
|2||Does your email inbox leave you with a deep sense of dread?||Person using a computer w/email inbox, with a looming shadow?|
|3||Do you have nightmares about unread or forgotten emails coming back to haunt you?||Person in bed, dreaming about emails|
|4||You don’t have to be afraid of your email inbox!||Person looking brave/determined to slay their evil email inbox?|
|5||Just apply these 5 easy secrets to your inbox…||checklist?|
|6a||Secret #1: Clear out what’s there||Show an empty email inbox, with folders along the side, labeled in years?|
|6b||1) Create 2013 and 2014 folders||This copy builds onto slide 6A|
|6c||2) File all non current emails into the folders||This copy builds onto slide 6B|
|6d||3) Delete any non essential emails||This copy builds onto slide 6C|
As a collaboration tool, I use the very simple 3-column grid format you see above, divided into slide number, copy, and visual ideas. The slide number column is where I indicate if I’m building the indicated content onto a prior slide or creating a new slide, and the copy column contains the words that need to appear on the slide itself. I use this specific format, with side-by-side columns for copy and design notes, every time I draft a SlideShare deck, to make sure that I’m keeping the visual story telling elements in mind as I draft my copy.
Once the copy deck was complete, I handed it off to my designer, along with some examples of other SlideShares I really liked.
The first piece we designed was the title slide. I usually start there because its look-and-feel sets the tone for the rest of the presentation. In this case, it set the color palette. Next, my designer came back with some design sketches for the main design elements; after those were agreed upon, we worked on the design of each individual slide.
At the end of the presentation, we included a call-to-action slide, that positioned the product as the hero from earlier in the presentation, and a useful tool in the fight against a cluttered email box, with a link to the website to try out the product for yourself, rather than asking for a SlideShare lead form fill. Why? I’ve found over the past 2 years of creating SlideShares that if the reader enjoys the presentation, they’re usually primed to dive in deeper to the topic or the company behind the deck, but often are reluctant to fill out a lead form.
Telling a Compelling Visual Story on SlideShare
If you have good measurement tools in place, identifying what content is most likely to resonate with your audience is pretty easy, leaving you with plenty of time to work on what is often the harder part for many marketers: figuring out how to translate that into a visual story. In addition to often repurposing content, I frequently start out my SlideShare projects with the aim of driving the viewer to a specific longer form content piece. An example of that is the Community Rx SlideShare I wrote for DNN:
My goal with this SlideShare was to connect with community managers, in celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day, and ultimately share an e-book with them that could help make their jobs easier, while getting them into the DNN lead funnel.
The e-book is your typical longer form written piece, and definitely not the sort of content that inherently would lend itself to a visual story. If I’d gone through the sort of summary outline exercise I described above for my blog post repurposing, I could have ended up with 50 or more slides for the 8-steps outlined in the e-book.
So how did we get to the well-received end result? By collaborating with DNN’s designer to tell a fun, visual story that sets up the problem and hints at the solution the free e-book’s content, on how to do a community health check-up, can help solve.
My primary collaboration tool with my SlideShare designers is the visual ideas column of my copy deck. I start off my SlideShare copy decks there, with a high-level overview of the visual concept I have for the piece. Then, as I go through the copy deck, I use that column to ideate on how to visually represent the main points behind the copy, to bring the viewer along in the story. It’s important to note, however, that I’m not dictating literal visuals in most cases. Why? Because that’s not collaborating, it’s micromanaging, and you’re simply not going to get great results that way.
So how do you give your designer enough detail to create something visual compelling without stifling their creativity? By painting an overall visual picture, but not getting down into the weeds.
Here’s a few examples from the DNN deck:
|Slide #||Copy||Visual Ideas|
|2||Susie’s company just launched their first online community.||Fun, celebratory image, possibly w/a sample community homepage.|
|5||Most of the users just aren’t engaging with the content||Something to illustrate tumbleweeds blowing through the forums or Susie being the only/primary poster?|
For maximum creative potential, I like to walk through the deck outline with the designer, talking through ideas, and having some back and forth and additional brainstorming, before they start designing. Frequently, I’ll go back and revise my copy based upon this conversation, to ensure the end result is a cohesive story with tight integration between the visuals and the copy.
The Importance of Giving Your Viewer an Easy Next Step
So you shared a great visual story, with some thought provoking content — now what? Make sure you give your viewers a next step that gives them a deeper dive on the topic — preferably on your website or another owned platform. Why is this important? You’ve just invested your time in creating an engaging piece of content, and the viewer has invested their time in reading it. If you’ve done your job well, you’ve piqued their interest in the topic, and they want to know more — including how your company fits into the picture.
Enabling a lead form fill is your logical next step, right? Maybe not. In my experiences with SlideShare, including at Achievers, where we launched a SlideShare channel that performed so well that SlideShare took notice and tapped us for a case study, although SlideShare became our primary social lead generation channel, very few of those leads came in through our paid account’s lead form. Instead, most of those names made their way into our database by our presenting them with an end slide promoting a related long-form piece of content, which was hyperlinked to a meaty landing page that spelled out the benefits to them for completing our website’s lead form.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of useful data in your presentation deck, or slides that folks may want to use in their own future presentations, enabling a lead form as the “payment” for downloading your slides may work well for you.
If you’ve started your SlideShare journey by repurposing content from an existing long form content asset, that’s often a great place to direct your SlideShare audience. Similarly, if you have an upcoming webinar, twitter chat, or live event on the same topic, participating in that is also a great next step to promote. But don’t forget to go back and update that CTA slide after the event to point to your archive! What’s most important, regardless, is to make sure you don’t waste this opportunity by linking them to an irrelevant or generic web page. After all, they’ve just taken the time to hear your story— don’t you want to continue that conversation?
I hope sharing my process inspires you to give SlideShare a go as part of your content marketing mix. If you do, be sure to let me know in the comments — I’d love to see what you come up with!