SlideShare is best for hosting high-quality, business focused presentations and documents. The clear choice if you are willing to pay for a premium account that offers analytics and lead generation.
Scribd is for best for bulk document uploads or high-quality imbedding options for your own site. You give up a strong branded experience for free analytics.
Why use either?
- Another way to reach customers. Both of these sites have broad reach.
- A way to host your presentation or document with the option of imbedding it on your own site.
- Another way to capture share of search (i.e. more search results that have your content).
How SlideShare and Scribd make money influences their sites and should influence your decision on which to use.
While both sites have advertisement on them. Slideshare allows users to select a pay option to completely remove ads from your document and user page. Scribd doesn’t offer any premium package for the brand (i.e. the uploader) and instead runs ads against all upload document. If getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you. See this from their advertising page:
[A]fter 6 weeks, a document uploaded to Scribd it is no longer freely available for download. The user must then either upload a document to get one in exchange, or create an archive membership for unlimited downloads.
Traffic and the kinds of traffic
Both sites get similar amounts of traffic with Slideshare increasing getting more, but I think the key is the kind of traffic each site get and how they brand themselves. Slideshare is focused on business information including presentations and reports, while Scribd seems to allow almost anything. If you have a look at the Scribd home page and featured sections, most of these pages focus on consumer oriented books and textbooks.
I rarely see Scribd rank for Google searches I do. It could be that I am not doing the right kind of searches, but I have done thousands of various industry, marketing and general searches in the past year and have seen one or two Scribd result from all of those. This could be because they lean toward books and government documents (thus why I don’t think they are the ideal fit for myself or many clients). So that gets them some serious volume.
On the other hand, I routinely see Slideshare in the first page of results for many searches.
High volume uploads favors Scribd
One advantage of Scribd is that their code for embedding provide a superior presentation of content. This has resulted in online publishers like TechCrunch and Mashable using Scribd to imbed documents on their own sites.
Scribd is also the best choice for bulk uploading and hosting of documents. When you have hundreds of documents that need to be shared, Scribd is a superior solution to Slideshare. This is reflected in Scribd being the official document share site for the U.S. Federal Goverment including the White House, Congress and FCC.
Slideshare offers the ability to pay a premium to remove ads. Scribd does not.
In addition, Slideshare premium users can control their own pages look which allow brands to better control the user experience.
That said, if you don’t want to pay a premium for hosting or analytics, Scribd is a good choice since they provide analytics for all their accounts and don’t charge any fee.
As I mentioned earlier, if getting someone to download your document is a goal, Scribd likely isn’t the best service for you due to them forcing readers to pay for a premium service or upload a document in order to download.
Downloads can be particularly important for larger purchases in the B2B space where the researcher might not be the decision maker.
Both services do an exceptional job of doing what they do. If you are focused on lead generation, promoting thought leadership and are willing to pay a premium, SlideShare is the site you should choose.