SlideShare Pro Features Go Free

On August 20, SlideShare (which LinkedIn bought in 2012) announced that it would no longer charge users for pro-level features. The change was made, the company declared, “so that everyone will be able to broaden their audience and improve their SlideShare uploads via detailed insights.”

These formerly paid-only features include:

  1. Analytics, including real-time, referrer, and engagement metrics.
  2. The ability to customize SlideShare profile pages, which gives businesses more freedom to express their brand identity.
  3. Video uploads (up to 500 MB – the free version formerly provided only 300 MB).

According to the company, the migration of pro-level features to unpaid accounts will not be immediate, but will happen sometime between now and the end of 2014, with each feature being released one at a time.

Why This Matters

Opening up pro-level features to the larger business community is a big deal. Why?

  1. Presentations (usually generated via PowerPoint) are a ubiquitous form of business document used both internally and externally. It’s rare to find an office where no one knows how to generate a PowerPoint (in many firms, including my own, PowerPoint is a widely shared skill). And many businesses have a lot of good content – real intellectual property – trapped in PowerPoint slides that, if liberated, could be very useful for content marketing.
  2. SlideShare is a platform with potential reach (in Q4 of 2013, the service was averaging 60 million unique visitors a month – that’s about 700 users per second.
  3. Presentations’ visual and interactive nature makes them popular on social media. Good ones that are promoted vigorously on these channels (including LinkedIn) are often shared very widely; some even “go viral.”
  4. SlideShare and LinkedIn are becoming more tightly integrated, and one can expect this trend to continue. If you’re already investing resources in creating content for LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Groups, or via updates to your corporate pages, there’s no better way to provide “native” content than through SlideShare.
  5. SlideShare ranks really well in SEO for presentations and while everyone knows that and crams SlideShare full of PPTs and PDFs, it’s still a great venue that gives your presentation one extra change to be seen in the SERP plus its own organic reach.

If you decide to take the SlideShare plunge, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Keep Presentations Brief.

The most popular, widely shared SlideShare presentations tend to be short and punchy. Resist the temptation to simply port your PowerPoints over to SlideShare. Tighten up the content, focus your message, and eliminate any content that doesn’t directly support your presentation’s main points. Remember, the SlideShare audience is more impatient than any audience you’d find in a corporate conference room. (Frankly, I don’t think that 177-page PowerPoints should exist even on a hard drive, much less a public area like SlideShare). On SlideShare, less is definitely more, but don’t go overboard with brevity – a three-page presentation with your logo on final screen looks like a cheap piece of promotional literature, not a presentation that actually imparts useful knowledge.

2. Break Out of the PowerPoint Visual Stereotype.

There are a lot of SlideShare presentations that fail to impress because they’re so obviously repurposed PowerPoint slides replete with PowerPoint fonts, bullets, animations, etc. To succeed on SlideShare, you need to create something that looks fresh and unique. There are a number of free, cloud-based presentation-generating services, including Canva and Haiku Deck, that can output presentations that break the PowerPoint visual stereotype. While there’s some learning curve associated with getting up to speed on these services, the results are definitely worth the time invested.

3. Include a Strong, Focused Call to Action.

Unlike a presentation shown in a conference room, where, if the presentation is successful, the next action to take place is a sales discussion, your goal on SlideShare is to convince your presentation’s viewer to click on an embedded hyper-linked image, usually placed in the presentation’s final screen, which will take him/her further into your sales funnel. Many presentations on SlideShare simply end on the words “Thanks!” or trail off inconclusively. This is a huge lost conversion opportunity. So is routing people from your presentation to a generic home page. Use the same landing page principles you apply in PPC – create a granular destination page that’s as relevant as you can make it to the presentation it’s being linked from.

Image via Shutterstock.

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