A couple of weeks ago, I listed 23 types of social media sites and mentioned that StumbleUpon defied definition. It’s not your typical social bookmarking site. StumbleUpon is a unique site that is part social-networking community and part personalized recommendation engine and allows users to “channel surf” the web. “Stumblers” set preferences to discover online content, and then give returned sites a thumbs up or thumbs down, which tightens one’s personal search parameters.
The more you stumble and vote, the more attuned to your likes and dislikes StumbleUpon will become. And the same goes for your target audience. This means that StumbleUpon actually delivers niche-targeted traffic to your site. And, that traffic isn’t just niche-targeted, these visitors are actively seeking certain content topics. Pretty cool.
Besides being a great place to discover great content and market your own stuff, StumbleUpon is fun. Here’s how it works:
Using StumbleUpon to surf the web and discover content:
- Sign up for a free account.
- Select your content preferences from the category list.
- Find friends using your email address. This is optional, but it’s likely that your friends will have similar tastes in content, so you can network with them to promote each other’s content. (More about that in a minute.)
- Download and install the StumbleUpon toolbar.
- Click the “Stumble” button in the toolbar, and you’ll be taken to a random site from one of your category choices.
- Vote on the site using the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” icons in the StumbleUpon toolbar.
- Stumble some more.
Using StumbleUpon to promote your own content:
- Put a clickable “StumbleUpon” icon on your site. (There are several WordPress plugins that can do this.)
- “Stumble” your blog post using the icon.
- The first time a site is stumbled, a dialogue box will appear saying, “You’ve discovered a new site.” Complete a quick review (basically, a mini-synopsis about the page you’re stumbling), and choose a few tags to categorize the site.
- Make sure you use some keywords or keyword phrases when you write your site review.
- Now your site will be available for viewing by other stumblers.
- The more “thumbs up” a site receives, the more it is “served” to other stumblers. This is where networking with friends can help you get your best content noticed.
- If you didn’t already complete your profile page and upload an avatar, go ahead and do that. Community participation will help you gain authority and respect. You’ll probably want to join a few groups within your interest categories, too.
Benefits of using StumbleUpon for site promotion:
- You can gain rapid exposure if your post goes viral, but typically traffic generated through StumbleUpon is gradual.
- Stumblers are hard to catch, but once you’ve got their attention, because they’re actively seeking specific types of content, they become loyal readers.
- As you build your reader base, you’ll begin to gain more and more backlinks to your site.
Before submitting your site to StumbleUpon, make sure your site is “stumble-worthy”
- Check your site design. Is it cluttered? Ad-ridden? Make sure your blog is easy on the eyes. Stumblers are notoriously fickle in their choice of which sites to remain on. The typical channel surfer spends less than 8 seconds per site when actively seeking new content. If your site design doesn’t grab their attention, they’ll be gone, often without even voting.
- Once you’ve attracted them with an eye-catching design, you’ll want them to spend another second to click the “I like” thumbs up button. This means you’ll need to have some great content ready. Headlines are vital to stop channel surfers from stumbling too quickly to the next site.
- Have a specific call to action on your blog posts. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a “Hello Stumbler” plug-in.
- Ask stumblers to vote for your site.
- Ask them to share your site with their friends.
- Invite them back.
- Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feed.
There are likely dozens of other ways to use StumbleUpon. Have you used this site? What suggestions do you have for the rest of us? Please share your ideas and/or questions in the comments area.
Oh, and while you’re here, please click the StumbleUpon icon at the top of the post. Thanks!
Until next time,