By Bo Morris and Jennifer Taylor

What is StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a social networking site where users literally “stumble upon” content that is tailored to their interests. Founder Garrett Camp said StumbleUpon’s focus is “helping people discover interesting web content,” and he has also referred to it as “channel surfing for the web.” Upon joining, users select categories that are of interest to them. They can also select channels from different brands whose content appeals to them. From there, StumbleUpon generates websites and blogs to appear in their feed. Users can click through the feed, visit sites, like and dislike content, share via other social media sites, and engage in conversation with other StumbleUpon users.

This is a very personalized social networking experience. It allows users to like, as well as dislike, pages in their feed to create an online experience where individuals can find what they need without having to filter through content they do not want or need.

Who should join StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a great resource for those who use the Internet as their go-to source for information, which, nowadays, means practically everyone. Many people complain about having to dig through too much content online before they find what they are looking for. StumbleUpon eliminates that problem, and by doing so, offers businesses a great way to reach their target audience online.

What’s in it for business?

Businesses wanting to market to a particular demographic can purchase StumbleUpon ads to to drive traffic to their site through Paid Discovery. Through Paid Discovery, a business’s website is more likely to be “stumbled upon” by consumers. Prices start at $.05 per targeted visitor. For businesses that use Paid Discovery, they are also more likely to receive an increase in page visits for free. In fact, businesses using Paid Discovery received substantially more free visits than paid visits. 

Like other social media platforms, StumbleUpon can also serve as a great way for businesses to get feedback, as users rate sites with a thumbs up or a thumbs down, comment, and write reviews.

So why should businesses advertise on StumbleUpon?

“You can target by category, age, gender and location.  So for product launches, distributing audio/visual content or just getting feedback on your blog, StumbleUpon often works better than PPC approaches since targeting is precise and no click through is required.”

-Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon

However, for businesses not interested in paying to promote content on StumbleUpon, the site can be used for free. If a business can market themselves within the popular tags and topics on StumbleUpon, then they can certainly succeed without the paid advertising feature. Tailoring content to SEO specifications is key to success in StumbleUpon, as is substantial, original content, along with graphics.

StumbleUpon Success Stories

In our study, we found that business that typically tend to do the best in StumbleUpon are consultants, bloggers, photographers, niche product businesses, and personal service businesses. For example, popular topics on StumbleUpon include food and photography. Food magazines and food bloggers tend to drive a lot of traffic to their sites from StumbleUpon since members will use it to find new recipes. Photographers are obviously a completely visual entity, so the more appealing they can make their photographs, the more likely they are to show up on the StumbleUpon feed.

Muhammed Saleem gives his four tips on how to keep StumbleUpon content “above the scroll.”

1. Put serious thought into your title.

2. Start with a striking visual cue.

3. Have substance above the scroll.

4. Make an engaging opening splash.

In terms of personal service niches, is one site that has done particularly well with StumbleUpon.

 “Mint found that by targeting very specific audiences with specific relevant content, people rated their content favorably and they were in turn seeing more free/unpaid traffic. Nearly one third of their traffic from StumbleUpon was free/unpaid traffic to other pages on their website; pages that Mint had not promoted to StumbleUpon but were picked up as a result.”

StumbleUpon case study



Muhammed Saleem

Peg Corwin


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