StumbleUpon Layered Content ApproachCredit: Jurevicious Studios
Credit: Jurevicious Studios

Whether you need to change a tire on a unicycle or find the equation to solve a complex engineering problem, the Internet is obviously an excellent resource for many professions and hobbies. You can type virtually anything into your search bar and find endless options or solutions in minutes. It has revolutionized the way we research, the way we solve problems, and the way we interact. It is useful and unique in the way that it can be applied to every discipline in any area of the world. It can also be updated in real time so that the information never becomes obsolete. However, people don’t always use the Internet to tap into these unparalleled resources. Sometimes, they use it because they’re bored.

The World Wide Web is the best antidote for boredom. People around the globe love exploring it, never knowing what they might find next. This sentiment is exactly why StumbleUpon exists. If you’re not familiar, StumbleUpon is a search engine that calls itself a “discovery engine,” and rightfully so. It thrives on the boredom of its users. People using the service can click the “stumble” button and be directed to a random site. However, upon signing up, each user selected their interests from a list. So, each stumble is random, but also within the guidelines of the users’ preferences. For example, a user might indicate that he has an interest in photography and automobiles upon starting the service. That user will then stumble upon websites aimed at those two topics.

Users also have the ability to give each page a thumbs-up or down, so it is a collaborative interface. The rating affects the websites popularity on future stumbles, and it also allows the user to create their own custom database. Sites with a thumbs-up are added to a list of favorites that they can look back on if they forget where they saw it. Much of the content featured on StumbleUpon is valuable. In 2011, they deleted thousands of user-generated content that was added to the StumbleUpon database. The site owners claimed that they removed single blog and photo blog entries because the interface was not powerful enough to support so many, but the cleanup also resulted in a more genuinely interesting set of possible results. To add pages to the StumbleUpon service, users must simply install the Chrome or Firefox add-on and select “recommend” on a site they think might do well.

If you own an ecommerce site or any business with an online presence, you’re probably wondering how you can use StumbleUpon to your advantage. Users are willingly allowing the interface to present them with content they wouldn’t have otherwise found on their own, and that is the best way to market to them. They are seeking out new information. It also incorporates word-of-mouth. The sites that they find have been given the stamp of approval from other users.

The service is not easily manipulated, which makes it even more appealing to its users. However, there are still ways you can make sure your site has a better chance of gaining popularity through the service. Use the following five strategies to get StumbleUpon in your corner.

Tailor Your Site to Users’ Stumbling Habits

The author of StumbleUpon Exposed explains that users are essentially channel surfing with StumbleUpon. Unless you’re specifically sitting down to watch a favorite show, you’re probably just browsing the TV channels to see what’s on. You’ll click through until you find something good to waste your time on. People treat StumbleUpon in exactly the same way, so you need to grab their interest immediately. No one will ever use StumbleUpon specifically to find your site, so you need to appeal to the people that are just browsing. Your content should grab them immediately. Otherwise, you might increase the traffic on your site through the visitors that stay for a few seconds, but you will not develop any real users that might share your site with others or come back. Make sure the content you recommend on StumbleUpon is wildly interesting in the first few seconds of seeing it.

Show Off Your Expertise

Like many other social sharing platforms, StumbleUpon allows users to follow and connect with each other. When you create your profile, make sure you highlight your areas of expertise by choosing them as your hobbies. Keep your profile purely professional and only follow topics pertaining to your field. You can also add comments to the content you recommend, so try spurring a discussion and explaining how the content is relevant.

Don’t Only Talk about Yourself

If you only recommend your own content right off the bat, you’ll be the guy at the party who talks about himself and doesn’t listen to others. Start your StumbleUpon campaign by only sharing other peoples’ relevant content around the web. Make sure it relates to your field, and you’ll slowly build your status as an expert. StumbleUpon experts recommend your ratio is 10 pages of other content for every 1 page of your own. 

Use Paid Discovery

Accidentally spamming StumbleUpon users could easily get you banned, so you might be better off using the Paid Discovery feature. StumbleUpon offers Paid Discovery directly on its site, and it’s actually an excellent option. You can pay for the minimum amount of visitors you feel might give you a jump-start on the service, and then your site will stay in its spot in the algorithm. If you pay for 100 visits—which costs $5—people will either up or down vote it. After the first set that you paid for, you don’t have to pay any more, and your site will maintain its position in the list.

Use a Stumble Exchange

As with most web traffic exchange programs, you have to be careful with this one. With a Stumble Exchange, you can enter an agreement that allows you to share content with other members of the group and up vote everything. Therefore, your site will go higher up in the algorithm in exchange for helping another site. However, StumbleUpon will penalize your content if moderators see that your performance is planned.

StumbleUpon is a great way to land your product or service in front of the eyes of your consumers. Consider making a very interesting branded page specifically for the service to attract viewers right away. Even if people are only on your site for a few seconds, you will get StumbleUpon followersthat increase your exposure. With the right approach, people might up vote your page and your views will increase exponentially.