Confused by StumbleUpon? Join the club. I do my best with it, but it still confounds me.
Which is why I’m thrilled to introduce you to book blogger and publicist Donna Huber, who offers to take us through the maze. (For more tips, see this StumbleUpon post from one month ago by Natalie Sayin, author of the Turkish Travel Blog.) Thank you, Donna, for visiting and sharing your wisdom.
Are you stumped as to how to incorporate StumbleUpon into your marketing plans? You are not alone; many people are unsure how to tap into one of the top traffic referring social media sites. StumbleUpon’s elusive workings mean that it isn’t easily manipulated, which is great for the consumer. While maddening for the marketer, it is also a good thing. It will result in targeted authentic organic traffic to your site – if you can get it discovered. Try these 5 tips to increase your chances.
Tip #1: Understand how people use StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking site. Similar to the bookmark function on your browser’s toolbar, but the sites are made available for all to see. It also has attributes similar to a search engine, though all content in the database is user generated. Guy McDowell, in his article on how StumbleUpon works suggests that people use it as a sort of yellow pages. Just as you would let your fingers to do the walking if you were looking for an attorney, you let your finger do the clicking to discover new websites of a certain interest. A big difference between the Yellow Pages and StumbleUpon is that other users recommend the information you are seeing. Users are able to up and down vote each submitted content: the more upvotes a stumble receives the more likely a user is to see it.
The author of StumbleUpon Exposed compares users to channel surfers. From the bounce rate I see, I agree with this assessment. Unlike a search engine, users will only find general recommendations on a certain topic or “interest”. StumbleUpon is used to discover new websites. So while StumbleUpon can provide a huge boost to your organic traffic, most visitors will only stay for a very short period of time on your site. The key to StumbleUpon is to capture the visitor’s interest within a couple of seconds of landing on your site in hopes they will upvote your content within StumbleUpon and subscribe/bookmark your site.
Tip #2 Be an expert in your field
Everything you do on StumbleUpon should support and enhance your status as an expert in your field. When setting up your profile choose interests that are not your hobbies, but what you know. Choose your connections wisely. You are limited to 250 connections and you want at least a few “big hitters” in your list. Besides stumbling by interest you can also stumble by “following” – you can see what people you follow have discovered and liked.
Adding comments to stumbled content will increase your visibility and credibility. If you are the “discoverer”, the content has not been stumbled before; the submission form has an “add comment” box. If the content has been stumbled, then click on the speech bubble icon on the toolbar to add your comment. Comments are especially important when submitting your own content – try posing a question to spur discussion.
Tip #3 Only stumble the best content
While your content may be good, even better than average, until your credibility is established you should stumble other people’s content. What you stumble also contributes to your reputation as an expert. I recommend in the beginning not stumbling any of your own content. Spend a few weeks establishing yourself in the community – no one likes the new person at the party who only talks about themselves. After you have a foothold in the community you can start stumbling your own content. It is recommended that you keep the ratio of 10:1 (stumble 10 others for every 1 you stumble of your own).
In addition to establishing your identity, you will also gather valuable market research. Stumble through the interest(s) that you will be submitting your content to. What is popular? How well does your content match what is being shared in that interest? Users can report stumbles for being in the wrong interest or worse, mark it as spam. Both cases will lower your ranking in the algorithm; the latter could get you banned.
Tip #4 Use paid discovery to launch your content on StumbleUpon
To legitimately submit your own content and not run the risk of being labeled a spammer, StumbleUpon provides paid discovery. For a reasonable price ($5 for 100 visitors), you can submit a page from your website/blog. You can set your budget as you pay per view (the basic plan is $0.05/visitor). Paid discovery content is featured higher in the algorithm to ensure views. But the really great thing about the program, once you’ve reached your budgeted amount your content is still seen. If during those 100 paid views your content receives a large number of upvotes it will continue to remain high in the algorithm.
Like any marketing campaign, create content specifically for this campaign. You will want it to be the absolute best content, demonstrate your expertise, and have a way to “capture” viewers – get them to click on other content during the visit, subscribe to your newsletter or website, etc. Offering something free is usually a big draw.
Two words of caution… Page views can quickly accumulate and make sure you are not paying for more page views than you need. The point of paid discovery is to give you a jumpstart and not be life support for the visibility of your content.
Tip #5 Join a stumble exchange group
As an alternative to paid discovery (or in addition to it), you may want to join a stumble exchange group. If you are a member of Triberr, your tribe can easily become a stumble exchange group using the additional share buttons. Be careful with this method, though. StumbleUpon’s algorithm will penalize content that is always the same small group discovering and upvoting.
Donna Huber is an extroverted introvert who has found book blogging to be the perfect complement to her personality. She has been shyly raving about books and authors on her blog Girl Who Reads since 2011. In addition to her blog, Donna is a regular contributor to Athens Patch and The Indie Exchange. After establishing the marketing and publicity department of a small press start up, she branched out on her own to offer affordable publicity assistance to authors. Donna is currently working on a Book Blogger’s Handbook based on her popular ‘Tips on Thursday’ posts. Find her also on Twitter or Facebook.