I'm pretty new to StumbleUpon myself, so here is a guide to everything I've learned so far...
What is StumbleUpon?
Founded way back in 2002, StumbleUpon works kind of like the shuffle button on your iPod - it 'stumbles upon' a random web page. You can then rate that page with a thumbs up or a thumbs down, depending on what you thought of it, or just click 'stumble' for a new page. The more you stumble, the better the site becomes at predicting the kind of content you'll want to stumble across.
|Thumbs up or thumbs down.|
Why should I be using StumbleUpon?
StumbleUpon has over 25 million active users who spend, on average, around 25 minutes stumbling per session. The site can easily drive thousands of views to your post - speaking in averages, it generally generates 3x more traffic than Reddit.
How do I use StumbleUpon?
First you need to create a StumbleUpon account by clicking HERE and pick some interests, like this:
|You can add more interests by searching for topics or clicking interests in the top bar, which will take you to recommended and popular interests.|
With that done you can start stumbling. If you don't like the page, click the thumbs down - you can choose from six options in the drop down menu to give more detail: Not For Me, Seen Page Already, Page Does Not Load, Report As Spam, Report Wrong Topic, or Block This Site. If you do like the page, click the thumbs up button. You can create lists to add your likes to, and this can be a great way for collating all the stumbled posts from your own blog, or simply creating a folder of pages on a particular topic.
If you're just browsing the web and want to add a page to StumbleUpon, you can do it through the site itself ('add a page') or you can download the StumbleUpon toolbar HERE so you can just click the thumbs up icon. Note: your account must be at least 24 hours old before you can add pages.
Viewing one of my own posts with the downloaded SU toolbar at the top. The vast majority of SU users are based in the USA, so the audience for posts like this will inevitably be small.
How can I make my blog StumbleUpon friendly?
The things which make posts attractive to StumbleUpon users are basically the same as on any other network. Good content, cool images, and clear formatting. The main difference is that it's all about the first impression - it will only take someone a second to decide whether to read on or thumbs down your post. An interesting title and catchy header image are your friends when it comes to StumbleUpon.
'Listicles' (i.e. an article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list) tend to do particularly well on StumbleUpon, again reflecting the snap decision making, and low attention span encouraging format of the network. Although, saying that, my most successful post for StumbleUpon traffic so far has been a relatively in-depth write up of the Titanic Switch Conspiracy Theory which has had over 4,000 hits from SU. If the topic is right, people will stumble it.
|StumbleUpon traffic can have a high bounce rate - visitors only look at one page then move on - so if you don't have a plugin which does it for you, make sure you link to other relevant content on your blog both within your post, and at the end of it. These options are at the end of my What is Domain Authority? post.|
An important aspect to stumbling is the interests and tags ascribed to the page when it is added. For this reason it can be a good idea is to make the initial stumble of your post yourself. (Note: you cannot add categories, etc, if you stumble from your phone.) With that done you can then encourage others to stumble the post - you could add a StumbleUpon share button to the bottom of your post, for example.
If nobody takes the bait, you can help things along by using blogger engagement groups like StumbleUpon Bloggers, Daily StumbleUpon Thread, and StumbleUpon Wednesdays at Blog Engagement & Promotion Group.
Is there anything else I should know?
You cannot use StumbleUpon to promote your own commercial webpage, defined as a webpage 'that promotes a specific product or service'. To stumble such a page you need to use StumbleUpon Paid Discovery. Similarly, you cannot just stumble from your own blog. There is a limit to how many times you can stumble from the same domain, to prevent spammers, so mix your own posts up with other content.
If you break either of these rules your account, according to the site's terms, can be suspended or terminated. They seem to have been very strict on this a few years ago, but the company has since downsized and reduced their staff numbers - a google search doesn't throw up anything about suspended or banned accounts after 2011. Just proceed with caution, I guess!