Social bookmarking websites always confuse my social media strategy customers. There seems to be an aura that somehow just posting all of your own content to these sites will somehow magically drive massive traffic to your website. Of course, it doesn't work that way. And unless you have a certain objective or niche demographic that tends to find a large population of your targeted users using sites like Digg, Reddit, or Delicious, my advice is simply to concentrate efforts on other more popular sites. I will make one exception, though: StumbleUpon.
First of all, StumbleUpon is not a niche site. With more than 11 million members, it has almost twice the number of registered users that Digg has, which Kevin Rose was recently quoted on Quora saying that Digg membership was almost at 6 million users. So while considerably fewer users are stumbling when compared to the user base of LinkedIn or Twitter, membership of over 10 million users is not something to ignore in terms of social media marketing. What is amazing is how a site with so few members can drive traffic that can compete with these larger sites.
Whenever I check my stats, StumbleUpon never ceases to surprise me in the traffic that it generates to my website. I already told you that StumbleUpon was not about the SEO and why you should become a heavy user. If you had followed my recommendations, you would probably be seeing similar results that I have found: For social media-driven traffic over the last 6 months to my website, StumbleUpon is second only to LinkedIn. That's right, when all is said and done, StumbleUpon is driving more traffic to my website than Twitter or Facebook. And I'm not alone.
In this chart from earlier this year, it is clear that StumbleUpon is the 2nd largest source of social media traffic to global website hits:
What excites me even more about the potential for increased website traffic is the recent release of the StumbleUpon for the iPhone application.
How does one best go about generating more traffic from StumbleUpon to your website? Here are 5 potential ways that can help your StumbleUpon marketing be successful:
While I usually tell my social media clients to move their Google Pay Per Click ads marketing budget over to social media, StumbleUpon advertisements do provide a way to "seed" their unique recommendations algorithm with content from your website. For a very inexpensive $0.05 per stumble, you can literally buy traffic to your website. And instead of having to experiment with categories like in the past, StumbleUpon recently announced a new auto-targeting system for advertisements. There are over 40,000 brands running advertisements here, so there is nothing to be shy about. There is a catch, though. You are trying to get more users to "thumb up" your website so that it will push through the recommendations engine and reach more stumblers. If you create an advertisement that is simply an ad, those that use SU may not be kind to you and instead give you a "thumbs down," ensuring that your content will be buried. What to do? Consider creating a marketing campaign for a resourceful blog post that can lead the targeted users to both thumbing up your content and checking out your website. After all, no one is fond of self-promoting in social media.
2) Stumble & Contribute
Anyone who uses StumbleUpon can tell you that the beauty of the platform is in its recommendation engine. The more you use it to stumble and thumb up or down content, the more it introduces you to amazingly interesting content that you may not find on your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter feeds. What's missing when you stumble? Your own content, of course! Obviously there is a need to submit your blog posts to SU just like you tweet them or post them to Facebook. But this in itself will not help get you a lot of traffic. It is only after you stumble and thumb up other content as well as contribute new content that traffic begins to be generated. Why this is the case is simple: The more you thumb up content, the more content that goes out to other stumblers that your content is aligned with. The more you stumble content and contribute in that niche where your target demographic is, the more of a chance you will be found and followed by them. And the more you are followed, the higher a chance that your content will appear in your friends stumbles. The whole ecosystem begins when you start to be a true contributor.
StumbleUpon is a social platform. While you can stumble on your own, StumbleUpon clearly says that it allows for recommendations from your SU friends to work into the recommendation engine equation as well:
StumbleUpon uses ratings to form collaborative opinions on website quality. When you stumble, you will only see pages that friends and like-minded stumblers have recommended. This helps you discover great content you probably wouldn't find using a search engine.
By following those that you feel you should be aligned with, you now have the potential of aligning your content with them should you be thumbing up the same content or if that person also decides to follow you back. StumbleUpon conveniently lets you know when you have new visitors to your profile, so always be on the lookout to follow back those who may be relevant to your target audience through looking at:
- those who thumbed up your content
- those who thumbed up content that you felt was extremely relevant to you and your target audience
- those that visit your profile
- those that appear in Suggestions
- those that follow you
4) Use the Su.Pr Shortener
I was confused when the Su.Pr shortener was first released. With all of the competition out there, why would I want to use Su.Pr? There's a very good reason to use it: To Pay it Forward and help out StumbleUpon. That's right, when use the Su.Pr shortener to share content on Facebook or Twitter, which is most easily done automatically through the Firefox Add-on for SU, you are not only driving traffic to your website: You are also helping promote StumbleUpon because your website will now appear in the SU frame. Because you are doing SU a favor in giving them, in essence, free advertising, it is only natural that they pay you back by giving the content that you are sharing some extra "juice" in the number of times the content is sent out to other stumblers. While everyone's mileage might vary, I believe that within a few minutes of sharing content with the Su.Pr shortener, you should see stumbler views on your content equivalent to roughly 1/2 of the number of your followers. When someone thumbs up that same link, you seem to get another batch of the same number of views. Don't quote me on this, of course, but this is the type of behavior I have seen after utilizing the Su.Pr shortener. Hopefully you will see the same!
5) Display the SU Badge on Your Website
When compared to a ReTweet or a Facebook Share, the count from a StumbleUpon badge on your blog page can be a little misleading. Whereas a ReTweet or Facebook Share/Like are created by active human interaction, the number of stumbler views that appear on an SU badge count the number of times that the content has been passively introduced to other stumblers through the recommendations engine. On most of my blog posts, the number of SU views is greater than the number of ReTweets or Facebook Shares. Why is this important? It actually isn't, but by giving a dedicated StumbleUpon "Submit" button to your blog posts right next to Twitter and Facebook, you are giving your audience the ability to directly "thumb up" your post. Furthermore, with those larger numbers showing, it will hopefully have the affect of influencing more people to join in the numbers and thumb up your post.
I'm sure there are many other creative ways of driving traffic from StumbleUpon, but these are some starters to help you get started. How has your experience been? Do you recommend any other ways of utilizing the social bookmarking site to get more traffic to your website?