If you blog and you haven’t heard of StumbleUpon, you’re missing out on a great deal of quality referrals to your content. StumbleUpon is a website that specializes in social bookmarking, and is one of the best traffic-generators on the web for blogs who know how to embrace it properly. In 2011, StumbleUpon surpassed Facebook as the biggest social traffic driver on the internet. Although more recently, Facebook has overtaken StumbleUpon, and Pinterest is now in second place, StumbleUpon is still a none-too-shabby third, and it has a dedicated following.
Getting your blog noticed on StumbleUpon can seem a bit tricky at first, especially if you haven’t taken the time to familiarize yourself with how the site works. Users randomly “stumble” through sites, and rate them (with a simple thumbs up or down) as they discover them. The more sites they rate, the better StumbleUpon gets at serving up content that it thinks they would enjoy. When done the right way, a StumbleUpon campaign is a great way to get your humble little blog in front of hundreds or even thousands of new sets of eyes.
Consider the following tips, each of which can help to turn your blog into a StumbleUpon haven.
Start With Strong Content
There’s no getting around the fact that your blog is only going to be as effective as its content. It doesn’t matter how attractive your blog is or how much work you’ve put into your SEO; no one is going to continue to come back if your blog’s content isn’t of any use to them.
Start by honing in on your niche. Most successful blogs stick to one topic and put a very thorough focus on it, which is typically more effective than branching out into different areas and trying to cover as many topics as possible. Your goal as a blogger is to become an expert, and this is the first step towards being noticed via StumbleUpon.
Now, step back and take a long, hard look at your content. Is it up to snuff? Is there at least one specific type of person who will clearly enjoy it or benefit from it? Does it look good? Does it work across all browsers and screen sizes? Does it offer a solution to a problem? If your content is not strong and useful, you won’t get as big a benefit from promoting your work to StumbleUpon as you could. If it fails to deliver, head back to the drawing board and keep focusing on improving your content.
Encourage Your Readers to Stumble
If your content fits the bill, the next thing to check is your social sharing. Do you have share buttons somewhere easily-visible on your blog? Many blogs feature a sharing widget that scrolls with the content; other blogs have a social bar above and/or below their content. Any method is fine, as long as they are noticeable!
Do you have a StumbleUpon badge? Just seeing the logo will sometimes remind a reader to share, so don’t overlook this important feature.
It doesn’t hurt to encourage your readers to share your content at the bottom of your posts – put together a short call to action. You can even insert it into your template so that it shows up at the bottom of every single post, and you can change it later.
Now let’s talk about how you can start your StumbleUpon campaign. There are two ways: the more gradual, free way, and the quick but paid way.
The Free Way: Build Up Your StumbleUpon Following
Whether you work in your niche, or just have a strong interest in it, you probably see and read interesting things about it all the time. Create a StumbleUpon account and start stumbling, focusing in on your niche and related ones, and share things that you think others would benefit from.
Find others with similar interests by surfing StumbleUpon’s interest pages. For instance, if I want to find others interested in cats, I would go to http://www.stumbleupon.com/interest/cats. From there you can click “Followers” to see who else likes stumbling cats.
Try to follow influencers (high number of stumbles and followers) who would be likely to follow you back because of your related interests. If you always post about marketing, look for people interested in marketing, branding, advertising, etc. If you post infographics, look for people interested in infographics, design, and data visualization. The things you thumbs up will filter down through your followers, and if they like them, they’ll filter through their followers, and so on.
The Paid Route: Buy Paid Discovery
For those who don’t want to take the time to build up a following, and just want to get their content out there right now, StumbleUpon offers a paid option. For just a few cents per visitor, you can disperse your content easily to targeted demographics and people with specific interests.
This is one of the quickest ways to get a traffic boom. In addition, the low price means you can try it out, see the results you get, and keep using it if you find it useful in building up your traffic.
Case Study: The Psychology of Color
Internet marketing company WebpageFX recently created an infographic called The Psychology of Color. It’s an exciting, engaging, and (unsurprisingly) colorful infographic that they knew would be popular with the StumbleUpon audience, so they seeded it to StumbleUpon with a small number of paid stumbles. It was a big hit! The graphic went viral, getting nearly half a million shares on the social bookmarking site, the vast majority of which were entirely the result of a combination of luck and great content.
They also garnered several thousand Facebook likes and tweets, and hundreds of shares on Google+ and LinkedIn. This kind of exposure brought thousands of new visitors to their blog, and there was a traffic explosion that kept feeding into itself thanks to StumbleUpon. Nice!
Focus on Going Viral
Each and every one of your posts has the potential to go “viral” like WebpageFX’s infographic, especially if you put in the legwork to create fabulous content. Going viral requires luck and that “special something.” That could be a brilliant design, indispensable information, or it’s just plain funny. Maybe you have a penchant for doodling little scenes to go along with your posts. Or you just break down information in such a clear, concise way, there’s just no comparison. What is your “special something?” Hone in on it. Perfect it. Make it yours.
If you have a web analytics tool installed, such as Google Analytics, use it to analyze the traffic and referrals you get for different pieces of content. You can also use a social share meter like SharedCount to find out how many shares were garnered by a particular piece of content, across Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Delicious, and StumbleUpon. Learn from what you’ve done to see which posts tend to get the most hits and which flop. This will teach you what is working and what you need to avoid.
The best thing about focusing on improving your blog’s content? While these suggestions are bound to help you succeed on StumbleUpon, they also will make you a better blogger, build your audience, and help you succeed on social media in general.