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StumbleUpon: A Forgotten Social Media Goldmine

It’s fair to say that Social Media, while it may wax and wane on an individual level, is a massive force collectively.  And with the advent of Google + (and by extension Search + Your World), it seems that the old “Survival of the fittest” should be changed to “Survival of the most connected”. I want to address just one of the many social networks out there that it seem most SEOs have forgotten about (at least as a form on traffic generation, perhaps not entertainment). However, before we get to the good stuff, I want to digress a little to tell you all a little more about myself and my ever growing interest in Social Media.

I tell you this story for two reasons:
1. I’m a Literature Major and it’s in my blood to let my audience know me as a writer.

2. I want to point out the power of using Social Media. I know my story is unique to me; however, I believe in the near future, Social Media will have the capacity to produce similar results. Whether it be someone looking for a job, or customers looking for a product, Social Media will (and to a degree has already) become integral to life on the web.

A Small Detour

Last year, around August, I was slated to teach a class at the local community college. While the class was about Facebook and Twitter, I decided, to get more community involvement, to focus on business marketing. When they told me that I would only have three students, I debated about canceling and instead spend the time at home with my wife and two kids. However, I decided to teach the class.

One of my students was the mother-in-law of one of the guys I went to school with. The other two students were her son and a foreign exchange student living with her at the time. On the first night of class, I taught her how to create a fan page for her dance school. She left happy.

On the third night of class, she said to me that her son-in-law wanted to know if I was interested in working for him. At the time I knew that Mike (her son-in-law) ran a local paper and had an Internet marketing company (although I had no idea what SEO stood for, let alone how to do SEO for a website). I gave this woman my number and email and told her that, if he was serious, to give me a call. (I didn’t want to seem too eager).

He emailed. We met. I got the job.

I entered “the space” of SEO, working for Nifty Marketing, and began to devour everything I could find about the industry. I became so impassioned with the work that I quit all of my other jobs (I had 7 at the time) and haven’t looked back since.

It was because of using Social Media, and teaching others about it, that I landed an amazing job in a field I had no previous experience in. That’s the beauty of Social Media; it has the power to put you in touch with people you, more than likely, would not have found any other way.

Now to prove my point: We recently launched an infographic on one of our clients site. It was the first infographic that I have personally launched and it was a thrilling experience. I watched with as awe as we saw 1200 visits in a single day on a site that was averaging little more than 200 visits a day (see below). Most of that traffic came from StumbleUpon, a social site not known for producing great results. However, after having watched the effect of using StumbleUpon on our clients site, I believe it may be one of the most effective Social Media sites out there. And for one reason: all it cares about is content, not the “power” of your profile.

A Little History

StumbleUpon started out just like all other social media sites. At first, you had to have a following to get any kind of traffic to the sites your submit. While this wasn’t exactly a bad thing, it hurt those sites whose content was good, but whose admins didn’t have the time to devout to creating a power account. So StumbleUpon changed the way it worked.

Instead of using power accounts to determine whether or not something was worth stumbling, it decided that the content should be allowed speak for itself. The way it works now is that you submit something to the StumbleUpon database. Its exposed to a some users and if it gets likes, its sent out to even more users. If not its pulled from the system. Simple.

Now, that is not to say that power accounts don’t exist or that they can increase the amount of traffic you receive. I’m even hesitant to call them power accounts because building the account up is incredibly easy. If you’re interested, here’s a quick run down:

  1. Make a Great Profile Page: People like to look at other peoples profiles (hence the rise of the Facebook stalker…I sense a killer slasher film there). Make yours worth looking at.
  2. Make Friends: Import your email contacts, comment on other people likes, reply to peoples comments to you.
  3. Stumble: You can’t become a power user if you don’t Stumble. Make sure that you like stuff that other people would be interested in.
  4. Review other Stumblers: This is a quick way to get a lot of follows. Review someone and more than likely they will review you back. Easy.
  5. Join Groups: Become an active member in the community and we’ll find yourself with more traffic than ever before.

Again, I want to stress that being a power user in no way changes how StumbleUpon treats your content, it just allows more people to it see quicker.

So what does this mean for us as SEOs?

Since we all know that CONTENT IS KING, why wouldn’t we use a social media site that embraces that mantra? Let me be clear: I’m not saying that StumbleUpon is the answer to all of our probelms. It might even make your conversation rate go down because people are just stumbling through the web and aren’t interested in converting.

However, we’re not aiming for the converting crowd (I might go so far as to say that Social Media isn’t about getting conversions at all; however, I’d have to do some research first); we’re trying to build a long term traffic strategy. I knew when we launched the infographic that we weren’t going to see conversions jump from 1.53% to 6% percent over night. However, what has happened is interesting.

As seen here, StumbleUpon has become the second highest referral site we have, generating 736 visits in the last two weeks since we launched the infographic. Of course, I will be watching this very closely over the next few weeks to see how that number does in comparison to other strategies we are implementing (Watch out my post on Pinterest!), but for two weeks worth of exposure I feel that number is fairly good.

How To Keep The Traffic Coming

The key to keep traffic coming into your site is what you should be doing anyway: creating quality content.

Some may say that only humor or videos do really well on StumbleUpon with all other types of content falling by the wayside. I refuse to believe this. If your content is well written, provides worthwhile information, and, the most important key to using StumbleUpon, placed in the correct category (called interests), you will see traffic. For example, when we launched our infographic, I placed it under the finance interest. I could of placed it under the design or Internet interest; however, because I want people who are interested in finance and financial planning to come back to the site, I picked that interest. This single action will determine if your site does well or not on StumbleUpon, and with the number of interests growing everyday, you’re sure to find one that matches your audience.

Once the content is created and you’ve determined the interest it should go under, simply add your page to the StumbleUpon database (It’s really easy, you can find instructions here).

Once you’ve done that, you can easily promote your content on Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon using StumbleUpon’s very own URL shorting service What happens when you use it?

What this little box does is tells us how many stumbles, tweets, and, if I tied my facebook account to it, likes I have. All from the ease of one like click. How awesome is that?

Now to generate more traffic to your site, you need a way for people to like your content on StumbleUpon. If you don’t have a button (most social sharing plugins have StumbleUpon as an option), people won’t like it which means you won’t get more traffic. Do yourself a favor and put a StumbleUpon button next to Facebook and Twitter.

So the bottom line is this: If you are creating quality content anyway, and are going to promote it on Facebook and Twitter, why not add StumbleUpon? One of the best things that comes from using StumbleUpon is that people will comment. Not everyone that visits but some. So when a converting customer comes to your site, they will see the active community you have built (by adding one social button) and become much more likely to convert.

This is just the beginning of what can be done with StumbleUpon. Give it a try. I’d love to hear your comments.

Want to know more about me? Visit my Google + Profile page: +Lance Pincock