For those of you who still don’t “get” StumbleUpon, let me put it to you simply: On multiple occasions I have become a new customer for different companies simply because I stumbled into them on SU and liked what I saw. So, if you haven’t heard of StumbleUpon, you could be missing out on one of the best and easiest opportunities to grow and promote your business online. As a primer, SU is what is called a “discovery engine”, a site that allows people to discover websites based on their personal tastes. It comes in a variety of formats from apps to browser toolbars to the StumbleUpon website itself, which helps users easily discover new content through “stumbling”.
The user can then give feedback on whether the site matches his or her taste by giving it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. It’s a virtuous cycle where StumbleUpon gathers all the feedback, ranks them and presents the most liked sites as random selections to its users, which leads to more feedback and so on.
At first glance, StumbleUpon looks like it’s just something to entertain lazy web surfers. In truth, it’s a powerful tool that gives a website access to new, previously untapped audiences. A robust StumbleUpon app for mobile already exists, waiting to take advantage of our growing use of the web from mobile devices. While it can be hit and miss at times, the fact remains that SU puts a site in front of millions of users who can potentially become avid readers and even regular customers.
You might be thinking, “Hey, I already use Facebook and Twitter. Why do I need to use StumbleUpon, too?” The truth is the numbers are simply in favor of SU. When it comes to making your blog or website go viral, StumbleUpon is an efficient path to take to gain more website traffic.
StumbleUpon was responsible for more social shares than even Facebook in the United States recently. Given that StumbleUpon only has 20 million users right now while Facebook has 800 million, this shows you the enormous potential for growth through going viral via SU. If such a small community can account for such massive amounts of traffic now, imagine the coverage you can get when this community grows even bigger.
Case in point: StumbleUpon has been instrumental in building the success of several online businesses, helping them reach out to new visitors and giving them access to a large potential market while attracting ad revenue for their sites. Here are two examples:
Stereomood is a web-based service that allows visitors to compile and listen to music that matches whatever mood or situation they’re currently in, be it a lazy Sunday morning, a cold winter night, or even a soundtrack for spring cleaning. This simple service has generated over 400,000 individual hits in a few months from StumbleUpon alone. As more people visit Stereomood, the potential exists for the site to starts generate large amounts of ad revenue – or even be purchased by a major player in the music or entertainment business.
Artists and designers, such as Aled Lewis have seen their work reach a much broader audience than would otherwise have been possible thanks to StumbleUpon. His website has received almost a quarter of a million hits in 2009 alone – and those are just the hits that SU is responsible for. Factor in the way people share links with their friends and loved ones and the actual number of hits that can be attributed to StumbleUpon rises even more.
One caveat: while many sites can see huge gains when using StumbleUpon, it’s not for everyone. Businesses like retailers and service providers that operate only in certain locations will find it less rewarding, if at all, to use SU. On the flip side, getting on StumbleUpon is a great match for web-based enterprises like video tutorials or Etsy handicrafts.
So how exactly do you duplicate this type of success on your own blog or website? Well, there are just a few key steps that you need to follow in order to achieve some StumbleUpon success.
First of all, you’ve got to be a heavy user of StumbleUpon yourself. Install that toolbar and start stumbling onto other websites, and be sure to give your rating for each one that the program throws out at you. Take the time to fully personalize your account, joining those communities that are closest to your personal and business interests. By being active and responsive in the community, you are creating a strong and very visible profile in SU. And you also get to discover new sites and interesting people along the way.
The next step is to build up a strong network with other active users of StumbleUpon, especially those that share the same interests or are in the same type of business as you are. Obviously, if you’re interested in social media, you should make sure to follow me on StumbleUpon. Stumble onto the websites of these people, and take the time to get to know them. Remember, this is still a form of social network marketing so good community relations is a must.
Next, make sure your site or blog has some content that would easily catch the eye of other StumbleUpon users. Top 5 lists and list posts in general usually do very well because they are chockfull of information, easier to read and are just as entertaining as regular articles. Use eye-catching titles that you know will pique the interest of your target audience. If what you want to promote is a static website, create a high-impact landing page instead of using your homepage so you can rake in more positive points. Of course, you also need to provide good content because getting page views simply won’t be enough. You’ll need to garner mainly positive ratings in order to really succeed.
If the method above simply isn’t enough for you, and you’ve set aside a bit of cash for promoting your site, then you can avail of StumbleUpon Paid Discovery. These are ad spots that feature your link at a cost of as little as 5 cents per click. Given the much higher potential to go viral than on other social networking sites, it’s a pretty good potential investment.
Whatever it is you are promoting online, the key to internet and viral marketing success is in providing something unique and authentic, which is why building your business identity within the community is so important. Once you’ve got that down pat, you need only wait and let StumbleUpon do the rest of the work for you.
Has StumbleUpon helped you find new customers? Any other SU marketing strategies or advice that you would add?
Oh, and if you’re still mystified by StumbleUpon, please check out this inforgraphic with the latest statistics to give you more background on why this social media website is so special.