Hacking SlideShare: The Surprising Site That Sends More Referral Traffic Than Facebook or Twitter

hacking slideshareDigging through my analytics last week, I stumbled on a surprising find:

SlideShare had driven more referral traffic to Side Hustle Nation so far this year than Twitter or Facebook.

I was surprised because

  • It’s a tiny fraction of the size of those other platforms.
  • I only have 6 presentations there (2 of which were duds).
  • I have a grand total of 77 SlideShare followers.

So how do they send so much traffic? Let’s take a look.

What is SlideShare?

SlideShare.net is a presentation-sharing site, where you can upload PDF versions of your PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Most presentations teach a skill, walk-through a process, share a list, or explain some event.

It’s the perfect place to re-purpose content you’ve already created.

Pro Tip: List posts are the most easily translated to slide format.  

Maximizing SlideShare Referral Traffic

Here’s the Analytics data that shows SlideShare sending more visitors than either Twitter (t.co) or Facebook:

Referral Traffic from SlideShare

And as a bonus, you can see the traffic is slightly more engaged than visitors from other referral sources, judging from their lower bounce rate, more pages/visit, and longer time-on-site.

So how do you generate referral traffic from SlideShare?

Unlike YouTube, your description is plain text so you can’t link from there — but what you can do is embed links inside your presentation.

(Hat tip to David Waring from FitSmallBusiness.com for sharing this insight w/ me!)

Any links you add in your PowerPoint or Keynote version stay active when you Save As PDF, and those links stay active in SlideShare as well.

For example, I usually use some variation of this slide to close out my presentations, (which is sadly not clickable in this image):

sample slide with link

What I Could Have Done Better

Going forward, I think it makes sense to include some site branding elements on internal slides, as well as links to “more information” available on my site.

For example, you’ll notice Fit Small Business doing this with their logo and a link on some of their slides.

You can even draw arrows and calls to action to urge people to click. The way most of my presentations are set up, someone has to make it all the way to the end before they have an opportunity to click through to my site. That’s a missed opportunity because I’m sure a certain percentage of people drop-off midway through the slides.

What Makes a Winning SlideShare Presentation?

So what can you do to make sure your SlideShare presentations rise to the top and get noticed?

Four factors seem to matter above everything else:

1. Compelling, shareable content

SlideShare is basically a centralized content marketing platform — they’re looking for eyeballs just like you are. In fact, they go out of their way to share the best presentations that get uploaded everyday.

The more visitors they can get, the more their brand awareness grows and the more people are exposed to their premium offerings.

Because of that, SlideShare can be your best ally.

With my 4 presentations that weren’t duds, they actually tweeted them out to their 135k followers! And it appears they weren’t auto-tweets because for my last slide deck on 53 Takeaways from the World’s Best Business Books they actually @mentioned Tim Ferriss and Robert Kiyosaki, whose works were featured in the presentation.

How cool is that?

If your presentation is on a topic with a relatively broad appeal (especially to a business-oriented audience), you’ll set yourself up well to get shared.

For example, here are my presentations that performed well:

And the ones that stunk up the place:

For the ones that sucked, I think the problems were a weird title (what was I thinking?), and too narrow an appeal.

2. Well-designed slides

Because SlideShare is a visual medium, design matters.

Now I’m far from being a design professional, but I made an effort to make the slides look nice, with consistent fonts and formatting.

3. Quality images

Big beautiful images are a major factor in shareability. Nobody wants to share the slide deck with the blurry clip art or boring stock images.

Places to find images (be sure to give attribution):

I can waste hours looking for the perfect pictures, so this is a perfect job to send off to a virtual assistant. (Lately I’ve been testing Fancy Hands for this task.)

4. Not a lot of text

SlideShare is not the place to write your essay — just give us the bullet points.

Remember Guy Kawasaki’s PowerPoint rule to never use a font size smaller than 30-point? Good rule for SlideShare too.

How to Get on the Homepage?

The holy grail of SlideShare is getting featured on their homepage as one of their Top Presentations of the Day. Now I won’t pretend to have cracked the code because I’m not 100% certain how these are selected, but 2 out of my 6 presentations have made it — and that’s a pretty good batting average!

This may not be an exact science, but both times I followed this formula it’s worked.

1. Create a winning presentation keeping in mind the 4 rules above.

2. Remember to include your links and call-to-action.

If your presentation does go viral, think about what action you want these new viewers to take to engage further with you and your brand/business.

3. Save as PDF.

4. Upload to SlideShare.

Be sure to write a detailed description of the presentation and add in the relevant tags.

5. Share it, and ask 5-10 friends to share it as well.

I believe this is the critical ingredient — and it would make sense they’re looking for social signals like shareability before putting a new presentation on their homepage.

If you can generate some small initial buzz on your own, SlideShare is far more likely to take notice and take the chance of putting you on the homepage. They can’t afford to put duds on there or else visitors will stop coming back!

Do you have 5 friends with active Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+ accounts? You’re set.

As an example, for my last presentation, I asked 6 people to tweet it over the course of the first few hours after it went live. Six! (Thank you Mike, Charlie, Alex, Theresa, Bob, and Dave!)

And the next morning, I woke up to this email:

slideshare top presentation of the day

Your presentation is the “Top Presentation of the Day” on SlideShare! Awesome!

slideshare homepage featured

This leads me to believe that if you can generate even a minuscule amount of social media sharing on your own, and your presentation is high quality, it has a good chance of catching SlideShare’s attention.

You’ll get to share the spotlight with 2 other presentations all day. One of my presentations was even featured 2 days in a row!

All in all, it’s a relatively easy way to expose thousands of new people to your work and your brand.

Other Ways to Get on the Homepage

Aside from the Top Presentation of the Day, SlideShare has a few more opportunities to land on the homepage.

They have some hand-selected “Featured” presentations, and a section for those that are “Trending on Social Media.”

My presentation on the top business lessons from The Simpsons was chosen as Featured (but not Top). The business book one hit Trending on Twitter for a short while the day after it was a Top Presentation.

That brings my “homepage” percentage up to 50%, meaning half of the presentations I’ve uploaded have been featured.

Regarding the Trending on Social, Chris Ducker put together an interesting post last year on how he got his presentation featured in the LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook sections all at the same time.

Of course, he’s got a huge audience he can tap into and ask for shares, but his LinkedIn strategy was different — he sought out a handful of groups related to his deck (LinkedIn groups on Entrepreneurship, for example) and posted it to those groups and asked them to share.

Generating Content for SlideShare

One last important note to wrap things up is that NONE of my presentations were “original” content — ALL we re-purposed from other outlets.

You may already have meat of the content for the next Top Presentation of the Day already created; it’s just a matter of translating into slide form.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to create a slide deck specifically for the site, but I would go through your existing content — especially list posts — to see what could be re-purposed into a presentation. It’s a great way to breathe fresh life into work you’ve already done, reach a new audience, and “be everywhere.”

Happy SlideSharing!

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5 thoughts on “Hacking SlideShare: The Surprising Site That Sends More Referral Traffic Than Facebook or Twitter

  1. Awesome stuff man, I’m going to really focus on this in the coming weeks. I love it because it seems like it would be so much less noise than trying to gain traffic from over-messaged sites like FB and Twitter!

    Thanks for sharing!

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