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July 26, 2012

Tips on Thursday: StumbleUpon

English: Stumble
English: Stumble (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today I'm going to tackle the elusive social bookmarking site StumbleUpon. I call it elusive because it seems that few people truly knows how it works. It is somewhat of a black box. Any bloggers who have used it know that it can be a great traffic driver, but the questions always comes up how do we use it to drive traffic to our site? I once had a post that was stumbled get 1300+ views in just a few hours. Really no clue how that happened.

After some initial investigation, I kind of been putting off writing up this post because I really had nothing. The topic has been on my calendar for a couple of months and I just kept pushing it back. But more and more the topic of how to use StumbleUpon as a marketing tool keeps coming up. Rachel (@RachelintheOC) at BadRedhead Media even tweeted asking if anyone knowledgeable about StumbleUpon wanted to guest post. I figured I really couldn't put the topic off any longer. On went my researching hat...

There is a lot about how in general to use StumbleUpon. Info about adding the badge, setting up your profile, etc., but not really on the interworkings of how to get your content noticed. This lack of available knowledge makes me think that StumbleUpon may be one of the few tools on the internet that can't be easily manipulated. That really is a good thing. However, I was able to gather a few tips on how to use it effectively to increase your network which in turn should lead to more traffic to your blog.

Before I get too ahead of myself I should make sure we all understand what StumbleUpon is. It is a social bookmarking site. It is like the bookmark function on your browser, yet it makes the pages viewable to your followers. In some ways it is similar to Pinterest. You share pages you like by bookmarking or the technical term is stumble the page. I like how this post explains it: Think of StumbleUpon like a phone book. In some ways it is a search engine but the content is entered into the database by users. Instead of Google deciding what content to show you, Stumblers (and the StumbleUpon algorithm) does.

Because this post is going to get freakishly long I'm going to bullet point the particulars you need to know to make StumbleUpon work for you.

  • Create a profile as if you are an expert. While on Pinterest we may have boards dedicated to our hobbies and what not, on StumbleUpon the interests you list should define you as an expert in your field. Book Bloggers that would mean books, writing, publishing, etc.
  • Add a stumble badge/button to your blog so your content can be easily shared.
  • Stumble other content, interact with other Stumblers. Remember this is a SOCIAL bookmarking site. Leaving comments on content you stumble or like is very important. Remember to "thumbs up" pages others have stumbled as that will give them more visibility.
  • You can occasionally stumble your own content. More than one website I looked at about StumbleUpon made it clear that if you stumble mostly your content it will get buried (not seen by other stumblers). Also if the same group of friends are always liking your content that will raise a red flag, too. Both of these can get you labeled as a spammer or at least penalized in the algorithm that decides who sees what. If you stumble your own content decide which post is your absolute best of that week.
  • Connect with Power Stumblers. Like other social media platforms these are the go-to people in their field. They curate great content and have great contacts. One like from them can skyrocket the traffic to your content.
  • Make your stumbles discoverable: If a site has not been stumbled previously you will be asked which category/interest is best belongs. It is important to think about what topic those interested in that content would search. StumbleUpon suggest content to users based on interest. Say I want to find the best content on Books I would stumble through that interest or category.
  • Tags are more for your benefit. Unlike Pinterest where you can group similar topics on a board together. All stumbles go into one list called Likes. Tags help you find the content again. Remember it is a social BOOKMARKING site it is assumed the information you have stumbled will be needed again just like the pages you bookmark on your browser.
  • You can share your likes with other social media outlets - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • I believe there is an optimal time to stumble content. Though I can't find any statistical data to back up my point, the author of StumbleUpon Exposed compares users to channel surfers. This post recommends stumbling on Sunday nights when more people are likely to be randomly surfing the internet. The post I stumbled that got 1300+ views, I stumbled it around 4 pm on a Saturday.
  • May get a lot of views, but most will be bounces. Back to the channeling surfing analogy. You might get a lot of one time views with the visit last only a few seconds. Your hope with those visitors is that they thumb up your post so that others can discover it. While most may be these quick lookers, some will stay and look around. Also they may come back later if they are searching for something in particular and just happened to land on your site.
StumbleUpon can be a great marketing resource. Check out the stats in this post. I believe StumbleUpon is best used as a networking site and not as just a means to drive traffic to your site. I recommend setting aside 30 minutes to an hour once a week to stumble through the offerings. I do it in conjunction with Pinterest as I find some sites with really great graphics. Leave a comment, thumb up it, reach out to other stumblers. As you do these things for others, others will do the same for you. StumbleUpon is definitely based on the pay it forward concept.
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  1. Thank you, Donna! I'm still not really sure about StumbleUpon, but it does make more sense now. This post makes much more sense than the other articles I've seen.

  2. I've used SU for years (at least 5) but only recently to promote which is a whole different ball of wax. I really like the idea of stumbling across stuff, when I have the time. :)

  3. I use SU to just stumble my posts. Thanks for this, now I know not to do that!

  4. Thanks Donna! I don't remember to use SU a whole lot but apparently I've been doing it wrong anyway. I still don't really get the social aspect of it much. I think I just need to play with it some more. Thanks for the info about tags - I was thinking that those helped other people find content so now I'll use them a bit differently.

  5. Thanks for the mention, sweet Donna! This is very helpful and I'll be sending out across my channels.

    I would LUV it if you'd write something for my blog as a guest!


  6. Hmmm. I do use Pinterest like a magazine to let my eyes rest from text...and am a rabid scheduler so once a week is doable. Will think this over after the promo I'm currently engulfed in ends! Thanks for breaking it down -- the bullets were a great idea.