This guest post is by Joel Runyon of Impossible HQ.
How do you stand out and differentiate yourself online when more and more people are starting blogs every day?
Sure, you need to write stuff that’s gong to stand out, but a lot of blogging advice focuses just on writing. Sometimes to really stand out, you need to go beyond writing and create something different. You need to create content (not just writing) that helps you find new audiences to speak to by using new mediums to spread your message.
One of those new media is Slideshare, an online slide sharing community.
In 2011, my friend David Crandall released a project titled Inspiration Squared on Slideshare. He sent it to me before he posted it and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was going to be big. David is one heck of a designer and his work combined with the inspirational content behind the piece convinced me right there that it was going to blow up and that I needed to do something about it. I didn’t know anything about Slideshare at the time, but he told me he was going to release it there. Sure enough, as soon as he put it up, he got on to the front page of Slideshare and got about 20,000 views in just a few days.
Over the next few months, he released a few more projects, got them all front-paged on Slideshare and consistently grabbed around 20,000-30,000 views in just a few days after each launch.
David was killing it and I wanted in.
As soon as I saw David’s first presentation, a light bulb went off and I realized that this Slideshare thing could be big—really big. I sent him an email and told him I wanted to do one. I didn’t know what it would be yet, but I knew it would have two main characteristics: inspirational and beautiful.
I talk about doing impossible things, but I can’t control anyone’s actions other than myself. In other words, I can’t make people act, but I can create the impetus for them to do so. Inspirational pieces not only allow you to do that but also tend to be wildly popular. I knew that in order for this presentation to spread, it would have to be incredibly inspirational.
I wanted the piece to be beautiful as well—this is where David came in. I know exactly what I like, but I know absolutely nothing about making design work. I could have attempted to do this on my own in Microsoft paint, but I knew the only person who would actually pass that along would be my mom.
I knew I couldn’t do it myself, so I called David up and asked him if he would consider doing those presentations for other people. After his track record on his presentations, it was a no-brainer and I commissioned him to do a piece based on one of my most popular posts ever—25 Impossible Quotes—a year-and-a-half-old post that gets crazy amounts of Stumble Upon and social media traffic.
I realized if I could make it both inspirational and beautiful, we could get some serious traction in the Slideshare community as well as the other social media channels, and it would have the potential to go viral. I’ll be the first one to say that it sounds really dumb to say you can manufacture something going viral and for the most part you can’t if you’re trying to create massive viral wins of 1,000,000+ views. But, if you just want to do 50,000-100,000 views, it’s much more doable and I knew with David’s track record, we could easily get 20,000-30,000 views and build it from there.
Since the piece was going to be a presentation and downloadable booklet, we decided to beef it up and double the amount of quotes in it, pulling some more impossible quotes from another article until we ended up with a total 50 impossible quotes. With those set, David went to work and did his thing.
(I mentioned before that you could probably do this yourself if you’ve got serious design chops. If not, and you’re serious about this, find someone like David who’s work you’ve seen before and like. It’s worth it to invest in this to make it truly epic.)
There were a few different methods we planned on getting traffic from.
I figured my decent sized readership would give the presentation the initial boost we needed to get traction in the Slideshare community and I was right. After a few thousand views from my site, we hit the front page of Slideshare.
Slideshare front page
Getting on Slideshare’s front page is usually good for 10,000-20,000 views depending on how long you’re up there and how compelling your presentation actually is. Ours went up and got us 25,000 views within the first couple days. That was enough to put at the top of the charts for most popular category, which gave the project even more longevity.
I was pumped, but I knew we could do more. I reached out to a few more people and we started to inch up towards the 30-40k mark. Still good, but I felt there was more potential.
The inflection point
Michael Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the seventh largest publishing house in the US, and runs a blog with close to 200,000 visitors. We simply wanted him to take a look at it and through a series of twitter messages we got it in front of him and he loved it. The next thing I know I got a message from Michael, “Cool, I’ll post it on my blog.”
A couple of days later—BOOM.
He posted it and it took off: 60k, 75k, 80k views. Within a couple weeks we doubled the amount of views on the presentation and within a month of the launch, we cleared 100,000 views on the presentation (not to mention several thousand direct downloads both from Slideshare and Impossible HQ). Not too bad for a little outside-the-box thinking.
Make your own Slideshare presentation
Fortunately, Slideshare is a new enough platform that you can get some serious traction without being a superstar. After all, if I did it, so can you. Here are a few tips on making your own Slideshare presentation go viral.
Make it simple, stupid
The highlight of Slideshare pieces that go viral is simplicity. You don’t need to make it complicated. You should have one main thought per slide. Don’t over think this.
Choose the right type of presentation
The types of posts that will do really well on Stumble Upon will also do really well on Slideshare. If you have any posts on your blog that have done particularly well on Stumble Upon, you should probably be able to convert it into a popular Slideshare presentation. Other post types that do well:
- inspirational posts
- lists posts
- compilations of quotes (people really love quotes)
- simple explanations of complicated things.
Anything that is simple, easy to understand and apply do really well in the Slideshare format.
Note: Please do not do a PowerPoint presentation. It will not go over well and no one ever wants to read 5-7 bullets on a slide. Remember: keep it simple!
Find a Slideshare Insider
I compiled the quotes and knew it would have certain traction with the backing of my branding, but the secret sauce of working with David is that he’s already been established in the Slideshare community. He’s done a lot of the heavy lifting of making connections and getting known because he’s good at what he does. He’s built up a reputation so people pay attention when he creates something.
Don’t underestimate the value of working with someone great. Scan the top creators of Slideshare and find someone whose work you like and see if you can commission them for your project. Not only will their knowledge help you make a better looking presentation, but once it’s made, you’ll have more traction within the community.
Market the heck out of it
Share it with your audience. Share it with people you know. Talk to people who know people and share it with them. If you’ve done your work and made your Slideshare presentation awesome, share it with them and ask their opinion and you’ll make it easy for them to pass it along.
The hidden benefits of Slideshare
The best part of creating content Slideshare is that it’s a whole new audience. Guest posting and interviews can always bring in different amounts of traffic, but it’s often hard to avoid incestuous blogging—blogging to the same audiences that read the same blogs over and over and over.
Slideshare is a whole different medium than blog readers. Similar to podcast listeners, Pinterest users and YouTube users, they’re an entirely different market that may or may not read blogs. By using your content in a different way, you can reach these audiences where they’re at and draw them in.
The flip-side of this is that most of your blog readers have never heard of Slideshare either. So, when you create a killer presentation, it looks incredibly impressive—even if you’re simply repurposing your content into a new arena. It’s a whole new medium with a lot of wide open opportunity, so don’t wait.
Have you used Slideshare yet? Tell us how it went in the comments.