(Originally published in The Zweig Letter).
SlideShare is a web-based service that gives AEC firms the ability to infuse a powerful visual component into their digital marketing efforts. The thought of yet another Internet tool probably doesn’t sound very appealing, but SlideShare is worth considering because it’s virtually free, easy to use, and requires no ongoing time commitment. It also allows you to increase the potency of your marketing with your target audience by packaging your message in a reader-friendly format.
What is SlideShare?
SlideShare started out as an independently owned Internet-based service, but was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012. The basic intent of the platform is to allow users to upload files or design a fresh concept, which it translates into slide decks. It has similarities to PowerPoint but much better functionality.
Why Should We Use It?
The main benefit of SlideShare for AEC firms is that it allows you to display marketing materials in an easy-to-read, image-driven format that is more likely to capture and hold the attention of your target audience. It’s harder than ever to attract attention, especially on the Internet. The volume of information is incredulous.
SlideShare benefits your audience by allowing them to more quickly receive your content in a reader-friendly format. Your target audience still consumes volumes of information, despite claims to the contrary in our short attention span culture. Some statistics suggest that Americans are actually taking in more information than ever.
Imagery currently rules the day in marketing, primarily because it allows busy people to quickly and effectively consume and comprehend information. This is how SlideShare explains it: “In today’s world of visual communication, design is an important element of your content you can’t ignore: Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than words, and can increase a viewer’s comprehension by 89 percent.” There you have it.
How Do We Use It?
SlideShare is easy to use for even the most diehard Luddite. Start by creating a free account at SlideShare.net. You can either upload existing documents or build a slide deck from the ground up. Your end product will be a presentation, infographic, or a basic document. SlideShare accepts a range of file types from PowerPoint to Microsoft Word to Adobe PDF for those that want to convert an existing document into a single slide or slide deck. Your other option is to build a slide deck from the bottom up, which will require some basic design work. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, but some basic computer and design savvy will help.
What is the Purpose?
Start the creation of your slide deck with two questions: What is the purpose of the slide deck? What action do we want the viewer to take away at the end? The purpose is the glue that holds your slide deck together and keeps your viewer’s attention. Are you looking to generate inbound leads? Do you want to direct traffic to your website? Is the intent to showcase your qualifications? An effective slide deck, like any other marketing tactic, must incite action.
How Do We Design a SlideDeck?
Unlike PowerPoint, SlideShare requires no template. You should, in fact, diversify the layout to keep your slide deck interesting. If you happen to be uploading an existing file, such as PowerPoint, the template is fine, but don’t start out with a template if you’re designing a slide deck from scratch.
You will also notice the ability to add effects and transitions between slides. Keep it simple. It’s tempting to add bells and whistles, but it rarely adds value and also distracts the viewer. The beauty of SlideShare is the ability to easily flip through slides without distractions. Focus solely on the quality of your content.
What Content Should We Include?
Your slide deck should be heavy on graphics and light on text. A good slide will often contain a richly colored, relevant centerpiece image that consumes the entire page with no more than a sentence, a word, or possibly no text at all. The image makes or breaks the slide so great photography and graphics are essential. Architects can include sketches and landscape designers might include color renderings. Black and white engineering plans will not add much to the design so civil and structural engineers should use them sparingly. You can even insert a video or chart into the slide. Don’t forget to add your keywords to the title, description, and tags to increase the odds of it being found online.
One of the obvious applications for AEC firms would be to upload a recent PowerPoint presentation, but there are other possibilities. You might also upload a multi-page feature story or advertisement on your firm, a company brochure, a statement of qualifications, an assortment of projects or service, or other marketing collateral for display on your website or sharing on social media. The possibilities are endless.
Where Should We Share It?
The most incredible slide deck will serve no purpose without a distribution plan. Where you share depends on the nature of the content, but you might consider posting or embedding it on your website. Posting it repeatedly on social media is also effective for broad distribution. One of the best ways to capture more eyeballs; however, is to create an e-mail and send it out to your list. For a more personal touch, don’t hesitate to send an email to one or more existing or prospective clients if the content is relevant to them. Creating a slide deck takes time and effort, so focus on creating content that can be shared for months to come without getting dated too quickly.
What Action Do We Want the Viewer to Take?
As a business, you need to focus on getting results. Refer back to “What is the purpose?” You will build your slide deck around the questions that define your purpose, but it’s critical to include what we marketers refer to as a call to action. Your call to action tells the viewer in clear terms what action you want them to take. An obvious spot for your call to action is the last slide, but you might want to include one or more call to actions throughout your slide deck. Call to actions are like “the sale.” If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.
SlideShare is yet another way for your AEC firm to add a powerful visual component to your online marketing efforts. It’s fairly easy to learn, requires no ongoing time commitment, and it’s free. And more importantly, it increases the potency of your marketing with the audience you’re trying to influence.
Have you tried SlideShare? If so, do you have any other tips for getting the most out of this platform?