SlideShare Use in the Life Sciences: Distraction or Opportunity?
You’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk about SlideShare lately. You may have even clicked through a SlideShare or two. But maybe you don’t know whether you should add this tool to your sales and marketing arsenal or wait to see if it has legs.
SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn) is a platform for sharing presentations, documents, infographics, and videos and may be the best-kept secret in content marketing. The SlideShares you create can be embedded on multiple web pages in the same way that you might embed a YouTube video.
Many marketers love SlideShare
Although usage of SlideShare in the life sciences is low so far (Table 1), many marketing thought leaders declare it to be the next big thing. Todd Wheatland wrote the book on it. He says, “the six most-used tags on SlideShare are business, market, trends, research, social media, and statistics.” Supporting business is the primary intent for the site. And the metrics are views, shares, and actual leads.
Boris Demaria at Woorank points out that you can achieve multiple goals at once when you take advantage of this platform, including branding, improving the search ranking of your content, and making it easier to share, not to mention lead generation and product support. Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute believes it is the most underutilized content distribution tool.
SlideShare best practices
If you’re looking for advice on how to use it well, there’s no shortage of experts willing to share their ideas:
- Forbes Magazine points to IBM’s expert channel as a good example
- Avoid self-promotion, keep it high level or extremely useful with a “how to”
- Ginny Soskey from the HubSpot blog recommends stunning visuals, fantastic takeaways, and down-to-earth advice as the trifecta of a great SlideShare
- Jason Miller posted a list of tips for generating leads through SlideShare on SocialMediaExaminer.com
- Miranda Miller from TopRank offers examples on her blog that range from 10 Ways to be a Marketing Genius Like Lady Gagato the 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Keep in mind that SlideShare is a highly visual medium and ask yourself if you can adapt some of your content to capture more prospects. There are some people who will prefer a more visual treatment of material. And there are times (smartphone on a commuter train) when a snappy slide deck will work better than any text-heavy document.
What else could you use it for?
- Share content across your social networks
- Drive traffic to your site
- Improve search engine ranking for your content (SlideShare ranks as #117 globally according to Alexa.com)
- Attract more followers or blog subscribers
- Grow your email list
- Measure the effectiveness of specific content pieces
- Take advantage of public/private settings to share content internally and externally
I think SlideShare can work at both ends of the buyer’s journey (and the middle of course!). It can be a phenomenal storytelling medium for your brand if done well. It can likewise present detailed product-support information, for example, tips on instrument maintenance or working with RNA.
SlideShare Use in the Life Sciences
Who in the life science industry is using it? It turns out that most companies surveyed (see Table 1) aren’t using it much if at all. Four companies are using it significantly more than any others. Life Technologies and Perkin Elmer have a significant presence among manufacturers. In the Services category, Covance and Quintiles both have Pro accounts and are posting information from many sources.
Table 1. SlideShare use by life science product and service vendors. (Click to expand.)
Low usage isn’t unique to life sciences. A quick search for Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citibank, and JP Morgan Chase revealed similar results.
Why is usage so low?
There are many possible reasons for this, from lack of familiarity and absence of a critical mass to a poor user experience. Based on my experience researching this post, I personally wouldn’t go to slideshare.net looking for highly-specific information because the search experience was overwhelmingly unsatisfying. But this might reflect the way the authors tagged the content. I would, however, use it to host shareable content that was properly tagged because of the ease of embedding and sharing that content anywhere else. Access to the analytics for each piece of content is also an attractive feature and premium accounts are very affordable. Another benefit is the ability to follow authors (individuals and organizations) and be automatically alerted when they post new content in SlideShare.
Having said all that, the most likely reason for low usage is the usual problem—lack of capacity or a plan to produce and manage content. Most companies are struggling to manage the channels with which they’re currently engaged. Even adapting existing content to make it effective for SlideShare is one more task that no one has time for.
For the company that wants to invest the effort to do it right, there are opportunities in SlideShare. Smaller companies can benefit from sharing content and having it found more easily on a highly ranked site. Larger companies that invest more time in their content marketing plans can demonstrate the breadth of their expertise by building a SlideShare Network with a Platinum Account.
Like any part of your content marketing, having a plan from the beginning is essential for success. Below is a list of questions you should ask before you set your company up with a SlideShare account. I always start with goals.
- What do you want the use of SlideShare to do for you?
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What is the story that you want to tell?
- What kinds of content will work for the goals that we want to achieve?
Then there are the logistics of making it happen.
- Do we need to produce more content?
- Do we need an editor?
- Who will own the content?
- What should be public and what should be private?
Finally, how do we deliver content for an optimal user experience? While embedded SlideShares are the most attractive way to view your content, at some point prospects may come to your SlideShare.net page. You don’t want customers to feel like they have just stumbled into your document-storage closet. How do you avoid presenting a pile of documents with no organization? IBM has done a good job of organizing what they have on their network with a Platinum Account.
Decide whether SlideShare can help you achieve something that you need but can’t accomplish otherwise. Then, if it makes sense to jump in, do it. But don’t start it without a plan in place. Without a plan, one of two things will happen. Your effort will die and be wasted. Or, it will “succeed” and you’ll need to backtrack to make it right. In either case, you’ll waste time and effort that could have been used to improve some other part of your marketing plans.
- The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare: How to Build Your Brand, Generate Leads & Create Opportunities Todd Wheatland, Content Marketing Institute, 2012.
Chris Conner is the Director of Marketing for SAMPS. He has led global marketing communications programs for major life science companies. Now the principal at Words 2 Wow Life Science Marketing LLC, Chris helps companies simplify content marketing to generate and close more qualified leads with fewer resources and less effort. He is also the host of Life Science Marketing Radio, a podcast where marketing leaders inside and outside the sciences share their knowledge to help you increase your marketing ROI.
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