What Makes a SlideShare Presentation Go Viral?

What Makes a SlideShare Presentation Go Viral?

SlideShare ViralSlideShare is one of the most popular presentation tools on the Internet. In March 2013, their users had uploaded more than 9 million unique presentations.

The website itself brings in around 30 million unique visitors every month. In fact, SlideShare is so popular, the social network LinkedIn purchased it in May for $119 million.

SlideShare is an excellent way for businesses to market and share a message or idea.

Like infographics, blogs posts and videos, when done right they can spread like wildfire and drive tons of traffic back to your site.

Here are a few pointers on how to get your SlideShare presentation to go viral.

1. Pick a Great Topic


The slide above is from a presentation given by the folks at UpWorthy, a social commentary site. It’s about how to make a piece of content go viral, which is oddly relevant to our quest here.

In order for your SlideShare presentation to go viral, the content needs to be great AND it needs to be shareable.

There are two components to a viral campaign. First people need to want to read it (or view it). Second, they need to want to share it with their followers. Without both components, your content has no chance of going viral.

So the topic you choose has to be compelling enough that both your established audience will want to read it and feel the need to share it with their friends.

2. Images are Everything

If we use that presentation linked above as an example, you’ll see why images are so important. Imagine for a second that that presentation had no images at all. What would you think of it?

For one it wouldn’t seem as entertaining, but it would also seem unfinished and less authoritative.

Powerpoint vs Slideshare

All three of those things are important if you want your SlideShare presentation to be compelling enough to go viral.

You want your images to be excellent throughout your presentation, but the ones at the beginning are the most important. These are the images that will grab the reader’s attention. A inadequate or ill-advised image on your Title slide could hinder your presentation’s ability to be successful.

3. You are Remarkable, and Your Presentation Should Be Too

16 Reasons Why Your Feet Are Ugly isn’t really the most appealing title for a SlideShare presentation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good one.

You need to make it remarkable, funny, and intelligent. Less like a textbook and more like a sit-com.

“Your feet are ugly” is fine as long as it is presented in a way that entertains and enlightens.

For example, this presentation by HubSpot (nothing to do with feet), presents inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs. People love to share quotes because it makes them seem more sophisticated and more intelligent.

Your goal here is to make your presentation something that people will feel smart or funny when they choose to share it.

Always remember that without shares, your presentation has no chance of going viral.

4. Don’t Worry About Length, But Make it Enjoyable

When writing a blog post, length is often very important. You don’t want to make it too long or too short. Too long and people won’t scroll all the way down. Too short and people will wonder why they even bothered.

With SlideShare presentations, length matters less than the content itself.

Take for instance the two presentations we’ve linked to so far. The first one is 51 slides long, while the second one is 21 slides long. The length isn’t what you focus on here. The content is more important.

You want each slide to lead into the next. If you can accomplish that, it doesn’t matter how long it is, since people will be compelled to read to the end.

5. Choose a Great Title

slide-21-638As with a blog post, the headline or title of your presentation is the first thing people will see. If it’s bad, people won’t bother going past the first slide. If viewers don’t get past the first slide, it is very unlikely that they will share your slideshow, eliminating your chances of going viral.

You have two goals when coming up with an appropriate title:

  • Get your established audience to view the presentation and share it with their friends and followers.
  • Get their friends and followers to view the presentation and share it with their friends. And so on.

So your title needs to not only draw in the audience you already have, but also needs to appeal to people who don’t know your content from a hole in the wall. The more people the title appeals to, the better.

6. Seed Your Presentation

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to actively sell your presentation. There is little chance of it going viral if no one knows it exists. Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

  • First, let’s take the presentation from UpWorthy about getting content to go viral. That has a total of 343,169 views (as of writing). Of those only 49,000 or so came from people viewing the slideshow on SlideShare. The rest came from websites where the slideshow was embedded (like boingboing.net).upworthy
  • Next, this presentation by The Motley Fool about Stocks in 2013 has about 357,000 total views. Of those more than 300,000 came from views outside of the SlideShare website.fool

The point here is that you should not rely on people coming to your presentation on SlideShare. Instead you should share and promote your slideshow to websites that have a huge established audience. This will exponentially increase the number of potential viewers, which will in turn increase the chances of it going viral.

Go Forth And SlideShare

SlideShare is a great way to market your content. It allows you to present your idea and get your message out in a more interactive and more entertaining way.

If you do it right, the viewers of your slideshow will wonder what’s coming on the next slide, and the next.

Great content, packaged well, can truly explode on this new platform and send you mountains of high quality visitors.