O.K., I am going to admit that I first joined StumbleUpon as part of a strategy that the “SEO [Search Engine Optimization] Gurus” recommend to create backlinks to your blog content from social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit. The idea being that the more links you have from other sites, the higher your SEO will be. And, as anyone who has ever used StumbleUpon just for this reason will tell you, you quickly realize that you are just wasting your time because just by thumbing up your own blog posts you are not gaining any significant additional traffic to your website. From my own analysis, most of these types of people either stop wasting their time or hire a Virtual Assistant to do the “Social Bookmarking” for them.
And you know what? These people are missing out on so much that StumbleUpon offers.
Below are 4 compelling reasons why you should start using StumbleUpon. Yes, I know, SU had its heyday and is facing competition from sites like Digg and Reddit. In fact, many lament that StumbleUpon is on its way down. I disagree: the strength of SU is in its algorithm which delivers as promised: it helps you discover the Web. And if we all start becoming heavy users, users like you and me can help raise the quality and freshness of the content that appears when we stumble. So let’s start stumbling!
1) StumbleUpon Helps You Discover the Best of the Web…in Less Time
I often get asked where to go to find relevant information with all of these blogs and Web 2.0 sites out there. Look no further: the more you stumble, the more relevant of user-voted sites it will recommend to you. It’s simple: you install the StumbleUpon browser toolbar, and whenever you see something you like or dislike, you select the thumbs-up or thumbs-down button. You don’t have to do it for every site, but the more you do it, the more SU will know about you and your interests. Then, when you are ready to “Stumble,” or randomly view a site that the StumbleUpon algorithm recommends to you, you simply select “Stumble” and you will be navigated to a site that was selected based in part on your previous rankings. I have found some great and relevant blog posts on SU that just didn’t show up on other popular social media channels in this way. If you want to find more targeted information, StumbleUpon also gives you the option of “Stumbling” by category, so that all of your results would only be websites that others categorized for you.
If StumbleUpon sounds addicting, you’re right!
2) StumbleUpon Helps You Find Interesting People to Follow
Once you find a website that you like, assuming that you are not the first to submit the site to StumbleUpon, you can also see who first submitted the site as well as who else favorited the post. You can then go to their profiles for more potential informative websites to discover. You can consider it “social networking connected by ideas” because these people are giving the same opinions on the same websites that you are! It can work the other way around as well: if you submit your own “discovery” or first-time submitted website, you can see who else favorited it afterwards and find relevant people to follow in this way.
Once you find people you want to “follow,” you “subscribe” to their feeds of websites that they favorited. You can then go to your customized feed, similar to your Twitter or Facebook Wall, to discover new content. But it’s more than just a Twitter stream of tweets: you can discover new websites by most recent views, top rated, most shares, or even categorized by the tags that interest you. The more relevant the content is of the people you “subscribe” to, the better the content will appear both in your stumbling as well as on your “Discover” page on SU.
3) StumbleUpon has a Unique Advertising System: You Can Buy Traffic to Your Website
What if you still want to somehow tap in to the StumbleUpon market and use it to drive traffic to your website? SU actually welcomes advertisements, at 5 cents apiece, to the URL and category of your choice. SU reviews each advertisement submission to ensure that the content matches the proposed category, but if it does, you can now insert whatever website you want into the stream of content that stumblers view. The more thumb ups you receive, the more other stumblers will start to see your content.
I know this sounds weird, but if you are confident in your content, why not lead SU users to quickly discover your site? On the other hand, if you just want to lead people to a landing page or sell something to them, chances are this strategy will work against you and you will receive thumb downs, which will prevent others from stumbling your site. My advice: utilize a blog post that adds value and indirectly leads people to want to see the rest of your website. Social Media Marketing 101.
Also, if 5 cents a view sounds cheap, it is. The reason? Visitors from SU have notoriously high bounce rates. After all, some of them were “just stumbling!”
4) Yes, Using StumbleUpon Will Lead to More Traffic to Your Website…Organically
At the end of the day, similar to a Twitter ReTweet, as you stumble more content and hopefully start discovering a lot of new content that has yet to be stumbled, you will gain new subscribers who will see more and more of your content. Since you can’t automate following and un-following like you can on Twitter, you are required to physically vet out those that you want to subscribe to and begin relationships with (isn’t that what social media is supposed to be about?). It also requires you to share more information about websites that you recommend and less self-promotion about your own, similar to Twitter. But should you have the right content, have created the right relationships on StumbleUpon, and have shared in the thousands of websites and thus have become a “StumbleUpon Channel” for others, the potential rewards for traffic back to your own website are huge: I have seen websites that have registered 100,000+ views just from SU alone.
I have only been using SU over the last few months, so I am still discovering new ways of using it. Heavy users, I am sure, have longer lists of benefits. But hopefully the above will convince you to stop sitting on the sidelines ans start stumbling!
How have your experiences been? Do you prefer another social bookmarking site to it? Please inform us all! And please feel free to subscribe to my content on StumbleUpon!