#ConversionFest UPDATE: I am now in 4th place and coming up on 3rd place for the Unbounce.com Conversion-Fest Contest, thanks to the team effort. If the comments keep coming in, we’ll knock this one right out of the park no problem! Skype me or text me for more details. Now let’s move on…
So, ever since Mashable released an article stating that StumbleUpon accounts for at least 50% of social media traffic suddenly everyone is listening.
To me, this is not news. I’ve seen the potential in StumbleUpon since I started around 2007. Admittedly, with all the things vying for my attention, I haven’t fully unlocked the potential yet it remains one of my topic traffic sources and, quite honestly, has been more fruitful than Facebook.
“]In spite of the avid fanfare from active Stumblers and an industry leader in Ben Parr endorsing StumbleUpon (though not with much fervor, I must say), folks are still on the fence. StumbleUpon can plant seeds for productivity over a long period of time, growing your audience organically and persistently. Other platforms eventually lose momentum unless you keep planting the proverbial seeds and watering them often. Soooo…
What is the cause for resistance? I’d like to demystify and debunk social media beliefs while providing some compelling reasons to jump onto StumbleUpon (or get more active) TODAY.
But I Have Enough Social Media!
I know, it really seems like these days there is a new tool, social networking site, industry discussion board, support group, or what-have-you popping up. It can be overwhelming. Maybe you worry that StumbleUpon is a passing fad. I’m here to share with you the exciting truth: StumbleUpon is here to stay and it only keeps getting better!
You may also think that you are on the biggest communities already but, like I’ve said about SEO and just focusing on raw traffic,
Let’s be honest with ourselves: are your current social media outposts really worth the upkeep?
StumbleUpon VS. Facebook (Yet Again)
Okay, so here’s the obligatory StumbleUpon VS. Facebook debate. I’ll try to be as objective as possible but realize that I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook currently. I feel that Facebook is overly-crowded, too noisy, and unfocused. As such, most people I know go there to play games and catch up with close friends and family. There’s little selling opportunity or exposure there.
That said, I do like Facebook groups, events, and fan pages.. But is that enough to make it “better” than StumbleUpon? Let’s look at StumbleUpon and Facebook line-by-line, feature-by-feature, benefit-versus-benefit…
- Action Focus: Facebook’s home page is like a mish-mosh of random junk sprinkled with occasionally useful things and some entertainment value. The average user maybe uses 5% of Facebook’s functions because they are too distracted by the games or are tuning out the noise. On the other hand, StumbleUpon has a cleaner, less-noisy interface that is much more action-focused. You can meet Stumblers, make Discoveries, Stumble the web, visit your Followers, check your Inbox, and see your recent Visitors. Every function is clearly identified on the main page.
- Search Functions: Facebook search is pretty powerful – it works even when you’re messaging people! You can also search the web via Facebook so it’s almost a replacement for Google but not quite. StumbleUpon, on the flip side, focuses on smaller brands and business entities. You can find little-known gems on the web and connect with other growing online entities. The addition of the Explore Box makes it even easier to find contest that matches your interests at any given moment and, by supporting the “little guys”, you get some love in return.
- Paid Advertisements: I love StumbleUpon’s opt-in controls for sponsored web sites. They position it so that you want to opt in to support their efforts. Advertisers can pay anywhere from 5 to 25 cents per page impression (as opposed to clicks) for their paid SEM campaigns. Even better, you don’t shell out money if Stumblers naturally find your content via their networks and toolbar shares. Facebook advertisement is not something I have played with much but I find their ad placement rather unremarkable, though the social endorsements do help encourage clicks.
- Social Networking: Due to privacy concerns and the paranoia thereof, it’s usually tough to connect with new people on Facebook. On StumbleUpon, you can message and follow people easily and Stumblers have the option to follow you back with or without toolbar sharing. No pretense here, though friendships CAN be born, the StumbleUpon team knows that everyone you follow is not necessarily a friend. Meeting new like-minded people is as easy as Stumbling by specific interests, using the Stumblers tab on your home page/dashboard, or clicking “Meet another stumbler” from the profile of a Stumbler.
- Targeted Sharing: While Facebook relies on Likes to help target advertisements, it’s not very accurate due to the click baiting that happens to get people to Like something, even when they really don’t. On StumbleUpon, however, the community is clear about what they like and what they don’t. Some will be forthright about what they absolutely DO NOT want, which makes it easier to focus on the right people.
- Community Activity: This is likely the main thing everyone looks at before committing to a new social platform. Facebook may seem like the winner here due to the massive community and constant updates but I feel the StumbleUpon community is more engaging. Where you focus more effort depends on your communication style and social preferences. I find that Stumblers have less stuff vying for their attention when in “Stumble mode”, which makes it easier to reach out to key influencers, make friends, and have wonderful conversations.
- Noise Filters: Back to the noise factor, I find that there is much too much going on in Facebook these days. It can easily be an all-day affair cultivating an engaging community and trying to sneak past all the gatekeepers and junk on Facebook. StumbleUpon, however, gives your content different ways to get discovered so it’s not nearly as much of a grind.
So there you have it. My thoughts on StumbleUpon as compared to Facebook. I do not say all this to impress you but, rather, impress upon you just how useful StumbleUpon is for lesser-known brands and us “little guys”. I feel that Facebook is more of a social media outpost for major brands, though there is still great value there if you work it right.
Unlocking The Full Potential Of StumbleUpon
Now onto the real reason we’re here: discussing how StumbleUpon can meet your needs. I see the benefits of StumbleUpon as threefold:
- Social Networking. Connect with like-minded people outside of your natural market and even your extended circles (some Google+ love there). Enjoy great chats, awesome content, and introductions to other people you may have not met otherwise.
- Market Research. While Stumbling, you’ll see what trends are heating up and what type of content can be considered evergreen, meaning it is always popular, regardless of current fads, habits, and trends. You’ll also have access to wonderful content that is usually buried on major search engines due to gaming of the system and the usual screamer shenanigans.
- Content Curation. Become an expert in your concentrations and specializations while sharing fun and sometimes pointless things just to show that you are a human person, just like everyone else. The more active and selfless you are, the more your own content will be found naturally. People are also more inclined to share your content when they see you help others out too – peer support – WINNING!
I want to share some sentiment that I know some of you concur with. My pal, Ruud Hein of SearchEnginePeople (as a SEO professional, he likes Facebook in spite of broken search), said the following:
…can’t say I really use it anymore. Twitter took over a lot of discovery. In general I lack time so SU kinda disappeared.
I see the logic here and, if you’re in the same boat, maybe StumbleUpon may be too much to keep up with. That said, just a little activity every day can create a nice organic AND referral traffic source for you. Of course, the real magic is unlocked when you network and nurture leads.
Now, without further ado, let’s look at some winning strategies to make StumbleUpon fun and useful!
- Set up your interests to Stumble the content that you find most relevant and significant. Some folks prefer focusing on a few interests rather than many. That’s your decision to make but remember that diversifying your interests makes it easier for Stumblers to find you and your wonderful content.
- Connect with Stumblers that are close matches. On average, you’ll get anywhere from a 25-54% match as a business owner. It just so happens to work out that way. Regardless, there’s always common ground to build upon and create a stronger relationship and receptiveness to what you have to share.
- Make some unique discoveries and Stumble through the vast network of StumbleUpon-indexed content to populate your favorites/blog with delicious goodies!
- Encourage your most active, well-connected Stumblers to share their best content to your toolbar and then ask for the same in return, thus reaching each other’s audiences.
- Just using the web site? Install the StumbleUpon toolbar for Firefox or Internet Explorer so you can always add discoveries, write reviews, and vote up/down (and stay in the habit of doing so).
- Dedicate a little time every other day to browse the toolbar shares, reply to messages, and request that your activity be reciprocated.
- Enhance your tags to gain more traffic. You can look at the most popular content to gain insight into how they are tagging it and how many are sharing the goods.
- Thank all your visitors, especially those that share your content and/or reach out to you via reviews or direct messages.
- Use your StumbleUpon links to promote content and draw more traffic through your StumbleUpon pipeline.
- Personalize your profile to communicate how active and serious you are about StumbleUpon. Your profile is usually the first thing people see so a lack of content there will send out bad signals. HINT: HTML works here so you can link to specific content and your biggest homes online.
- Forge a sharing alliance across your social outposts to continue to engage your inner circle, comment brigade, and top sharers. This will keep cross-promotion opportunities trickling in.
- Like with with blogging, consistent and persistent activity drives commensurate results but don’t be stressed about building huge volume, at least not to boot. Check in as often as possible and do a little here and there.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that there is a direct correlation between a balanced followship and high volume of favorites, as well as the average views generated to each item. Using multiple tags and proper categorization helps make your content more findable but, even more important, friends of friends can find you more, especially when they do more randomized searches (the true nature of Stumbling). Think of it as having multiple conversion funnels or marketing legs.
The real magic in StumbleUpon happens when you’re actively stumbling, discovering, sharing, and growing your audience. These things all add value to the network and bump your content up in the semi-randomized Stumbling process. The best part is that people you don’t even know will find your content via proxy – even when you don’t share to their networks!
The Full Potential Of StumbleUpon
If I listed all the benefits and exciting potential in really using StumbleUpon to it’s fullest potential, I would have to start a dedicated blog entry.. Maybe even a book. StumbleUpon continues to see tweaks that push it in the right direction but, even as it is today, it is amazing.
Just consider this: with Google, so much is buried in paid advertisements and results that were gamed. It makes it hard to compete, unless you are particularly good at SEO. Even then, StumbleUpon helps you set up a social media outpost that handles many key activities all from one platform. If you’re still not sold, check out the articles below and see what you think.
I encourage you to leave comments and ask questions so I can get more specific. I will say that the Forbes article, to me, did not disvalue StumbleUpon nor did it make me feel like I have been missing out by not using Facebook for business purposes more. The fact remains that StumbleUpon provides a more customizable, focused experience where scalable context and relevant content is everything, along with making new and old connections to extend your reach naturally… And it’s almost all completely opt-in if you really look at it. Surprisingly, most Stumblers are inclined to share openly and mutually. I love it!
More Handy-Dandy StumbleUpon Resources:
- Yogizilla, Stumbling Since 2007! What Are YOU Waiting For?
- Mashable’s Ben Parr Knows “What’s Up!” – StumbleUpon PWNZ Social Media Traffic!
- StumbleUpon Gives Google A Run For Their Money?
- 11 Tips For Increasing StumbleUpon Traffic (Without Spamming)
- Forbes Says Facebook Is Still Better.. And I Scoff.