The premise of StumbleUpon, founded in 2001, is to recommend web content to its users. The service prompts users to rate web pages, photos and videos, tailoring suggestions to ‘Stumble’ on web content based on perceived common interest between users, who leave similar ratings to each other. This simplicity of the concept has attracted 15 million users; with the attraction being that the ‘Stumble’ feature may lead to a user discovering a worthwhile web gem.
Searching the web can be tedious, and time consuming as often we have to sift through irrelevant information. However the StumbleUpon service filters content on the basis of user’s personal interests. The popularity and effectiveness of the Stumble feature in particular is highlighted by the fact that at present the feature is used one billion, yes BILLION times a month! An illustration of the growth the feature is experiencing is made evident bearing in mind that in May 2008 the five-billionth Stumble was collected, and by August 2011 the service had reached 25 Billion Stumbles! The remarkable increase in traffic is perhaps in part due to improved accessibility to the service; users can ‘Stumble’ via toolbars in numerous web browsers as well as apps for iPads/iPhones and Android Smartphones.
Despite these facts, you may (or may not) be surprised to find that statistics have shown that the service is responsible for over 50% of Social Media referrals; dwarfing its competitors figures. Facebook drives 38.9% of referrals whereas popular social networks such as Youtube, Twitter and Reddit are responsible for just 4% each.
The term ‘social media referral’ is indicative of a user of a given social media platform uses a link from the site to go to an external web source. A prime example is the Facebook ‘like’ feature; which is found almost universally on websites. Clicking the ‘Like’ button, posts a link to the user’s Facebook news feed which creates the possibility for their friends to be referred to the site.
StumbleUpon’s direct application to business is found in the ‘discovery’ feature offered by the service. This feature allows users to add web pages which were not in the Stumbleupon database previously; with the option to add a review, title and tags relating to the content of the site. Creating a StumbleUpon account (similar to Facebook, which lists interests etc) is beneficial. Befriending users with interest’s in-line with the service your company/website offer can lead to a snowball-like effect, whereby users share your recommended pages with their friends.
No doubt other social networks have significantly more users (estimates claim Facebook has 750 million), however StumbleUpon’s influence stems from the personal nature of its use. Users trust and feel a degree of affinity with the content generated over the social network and therefore are probably more open to opening links they come across. Users with such sentiments are valuable commodities in the online marketing realm and could cause a shift in the manner companies choose to advertise over social networks. This once again highlights the essential role the establishment of a relationship and a sense of identification play in successful social enterprise.