How to Use StumbleUpon

I read an article recently that said StumbleUpon had had more than 800 million stumbles.

“Wow!” I thought. “That’s amazing!” Really, I was very impressed. Then I realized that if I tried to talk to anyone in my real life about this, they’d have no idea what I was talking about. They’d think I was even nerdier than I am.

This is the problem with social media. It’s like a foreign language. Every social media site has its own lexicon. So now, because I want to be able to discuss StumbleUpon with people as a topic of interest, a quick overview of the tool.

What Is StumbleUpon?
StumbleUpon is a referral site. It’s like when Amazon says “most users who bought x also bought y.” Except StumbleUpon says “if you liked x website, you’ll probably enjoy y website.”

You build a profile by “liking” sites. Based on tags those sites are given, StumbleUpon builds a profile of you and your interests. This enables StumbleUpon to refer you to sites you may like whenever you click the “Stumble” button their site. This is a great way to find new content that you might be interested in – you literally just stumble upon it.

The thing about this to be aware of is that these tags are not created by the site owner. Whoever is the first person to “discover” the site, is also the person who gets to apply the tags. So while you are stumbling and tagging posts, others are stumbling and tagging posts. This builds a database of information. Your profile is matched against this database in order to determine which sites you might like. You will get referred to posts that are tagged similarly to how you tag things.

This means that you will also begin to find people who like the same things you do and use the same type of language to tag sites.

Doesn’t That Seem Scary?

Well, yes, frankly it does seem scary.

Since They Are Scary, How Do I Protect Myself from Stumblers?
Stumblers are an insidious bunch. You may not have guessed, but I am one myself. And you couldn’t even tell, could you?

In all seriousness, StumbleUpon has put some great stop gaps in place. For starters, all posts must be tagged as safe or unsafe for work. StumbleUpon also allows you to change settings in your profile so that you never see content that’s not safe for work. That means you will not be surprised by boobs while you’re at your desk or with your children. Also, by directing you to sites like ones you’ve already shown interest in, it’s unlikely that you’d be pushed towards a site for boobs if you were not already interested in them.

That’s dynamic marketing at its best: only showing you boobs if you want them.

StumbleUpon Is A Lot To Keep Typing. Is There An Acronym I Can Use?
You bet. Let’s start calling it SU. My fingers are getting tired.

Wait, I Thought It Was Scary?
It IS scary. That database is scary the same way that SkyNet is scary. Computers should not know that much about what we like. But, since it’s already out there threatening to take over our lives, we may as well get some enjoyment out of it while we can. Give in, surrender to its will. Really, life is much funnier this way.

I’ve Decided to Surrender My Will to StumbleUpon, What Next?
First, follow TamingInsanity on StumbleUpon. Next, build a profile. Then, start stumbling and liking sites. There’s a nifty toolbar you can install so that when you like a site, you can just hit the green thumbs up button and StumbleUpon will record you preference.

A word of caution here: if you are the first person to like a site, SU will ask you to fill out a quick discovery form about the site. Do this. If you do not do this, the site will not come up when people stumble in the future. Why? Because there are no tags. Because SU does not know if it’s safe for work. Because they it just won’t. SU can’t recommend it to people without tags. So please fill out the discovery form. Otherwise the site will be lost in the ether and I will never get to know what you find so funny.

Why Would Anyone Do This?
Simple, there are three reasons:

1) Boredom
I have a cousin who has liked more than 5,000 sites. Five THOUSAND. You know why? He’s bored and he’s tech-savvy. He doesn’t need a better reason than that.

2) To Drive Traffic
It’s possible that having your posts listed in SU can drive traffic to your site. BUT, that will only happen if they have tags. So fill out the discovery form, people.

It’s also important to note that you should stumble individual posts, pages or articles rather than your site as a whole. People do not want to Stumble Upon your about page. They want to Stumble Upon the time you peed yourself in third grade. Hopefully after that, they’ll click your about page organically.

A good friend of mine gets some of her best referrals from StumbleUpon. It can work for you too.

3) They Actually Like Your Site
Seriously, SU is a great way to build a list of posts, articles and pages you like. SU saves all of my favorites in my profile – with tags – so it’s easy to find a site I’m looking for months later. I frequently stumble posts I like so I can refer back to them at a later date.

What Was Your Profile Link Again?
Taming Insanity on StumbleUpon

Remind Me Why You’re Yammering About This?
Because I want to talk to somebody about how cool I think it is that SU has had more than 800 million sites liked. That’s awe inspiring. I want to be just like them.

36 Responses to How to Use StumbleUpon
  1. tracy
    April 13, 2011 | 5:27 am

    I've been trying to understand this for a year. Sadly, I still don't and now I have drool on my chin and a twitch. #nottechsavvy ;)

  2. Liz
    April 13, 2011 | 6:29 am

    I just discovered you. And I marked you safe for work…even though you talk about boobs.

  3. The Empress
    April 13, 2011 | 6:32 am

    I know, I know…you are the second person to talk me in to trying this here stumble upon.

    I should listen, you being a mogul maven and all.

  4. Jessica
    April 13, 2011 | 6:36 am

    This is a great post, I joined the other day and was overwhelmed so haven't really done a thing on it. I need to reread this post 10 times and then try again. Thanks!

  5. Bill
    April 13, 2011 | 6:46 am

    Paraphrase #1: “I want to be just like SU”

    Paraphrase #2: “SU: Showing you boobs only if you want them”.

    you're weird, KLZ. weird, i tell you.

  6. Shell
    April 13, 2011 | 6:52 am

    I really need to use this more!

  7. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    April 13, 2011 | 7:07 am

    Excellent comparison- SU is like Amazon.
    And thank you for the link.

  8. Amanda @ It's Blogworthy
    April 13, 2011 | 8:38 am

    I wish I could SU all day at work. I mean, don't you really have to participate for it to work for your site? If I don't' have time daily to SU sites, does it make sense for me to still fill out a SU profile for my blog? I need to know. I also <3 this q&a format. Me no likey surprise boobs on blogs at work.

  9. Bossy Betty
    April 13, 2011 | 9:06 am

    Could you go over all this again and this time use pictures and give us snacks too?

  10. Amanda Hoving
    April 13, 2011 | 9:13 am

    No, YOU are awe inspiring, KLZ. (And scary.)

  11. Jessica
    April 13, 2011 | 9:15 am

    I've never used SU but after the 800 million number I am very inspired.

  12. Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop!
    April 13, 2011 | 10:19 am

    I'll stumble you if you stumble me.

    Why does that sound so dirty?!?!?

  13. Annabelle
    April 13, 2011 | 10:24 am

    …must resist urge to be even more enslaved to The Machine…must step away from the SU…must – ….


  14. MiMi
    April 13, 2011 | 11:06 am

    This is interesting…I never understood it, you made it easy to “get” though! :)

  15. John and Allie Fields
    April 13, 2011 | 11:55 am

    I'm so glad you wrote this. I've tried for months to figure out SU and never could. This helps!

  16. Mandyland
    April 13, 2011 | 12:12 pm

    I've been using SU for a bit and had no idea that it was directing me to places based on what I like.

    Because I rarely understand the technology I use.

    But the worst part is now I'm worried. You should SEE some of the places it's taken me. Dude. It told me about Codex Seraphinianus.

  17. The Twin Spin
    April 13, 2011 | 12:43 pm

    I always get confused on how to add my particular post myself. Because they say you can't/shouldn't stumble your own site.

  18. Joy@TPMG
    April 13, 2011 | 1:15 pm

    You've convinced me:) I'll have to join the crowd and try this. I haven't yet.

  19. Ashley
    April 13, 2011 | 1:34 pm

    Stumble really does provide great traffic! Stumble groups help too. It is kind of scary when you think about it, isn't it? Creepy computers..

  20. Nichole
    April 13, 2011 | 1:36 pm

    Imagine the tears I shed when I learned that you can't have the StumbleUpon toolbar if you use Safari.


  21. Ms.Wasteland
    April 13, 2011 | 2:28 pm

    I used Stumpleupon a thousand years ago when I didn't have a blog. I guess I was just bored. The problem is I'm not tech savvy and have no idea what I'm doing.

  22. Anne
    April 13, 2011 | 2:35 pm

    So this is what SU is all about. Thanks for the clarification. When I clicked through to follow you I was surprised to find that I already had an account there. I don't even remember signing up. Typical of my foray into Social Media….

  23. MrsJenB
    April 13, 2011 | 2:36 pm

    Um…what are the odds of both of us talking about SU today, with right this very minute being the first time in my day that I've had a chance to go through my reader? Seriously, what do you think the odds are?

  24. mommylebron
    April 13, 2011 | 6:05 pm

    I have a SU account…come to think of it..didn't you lure me there from Twitter a few weeks ago?

    Social media is like crack and you're my dealer!

  25. Suniverse
    April 13, 2011 | 6:57 pm

    I tried to do this, but got very, very confused. I'll try again.

  26. Elena
    April 13, 2011 | 7:33 pm

    I keep meaning to do SU and always forget…now I have a reminder AND tips on how to do it. ;)

  27. From Tracie
    April 13, 2011 | 8:04 pm

    I love SU…and I do get a lot of referrals from them too, which makes me love it even more.

  28. Miel Abeille
    April 14, 2011 | 3:42 am

    Traffic sounds good, but SU sounds scary. Not sure if I'm ready for that.

  29. TheKirCorner
    April 14, 2011 | 6:22 am

    I JOINED !!!!! thanks for letting me know about it. :) See you in cyberspace sweetie!

  30. John
    April 14, 2011 | 6:38 am

    I really do fear SkyNet.

    That said, I'm all signed up & stuff…

  31. Julie
    April 14, 2011 | 7:46 am

    First, I love nerds.

    Second, how did you know I peed myself in the third grade?

    Third, I just had those two things. So. Ummm…BOOBS!

  32. lifeintheboomerlane
    April 14, 2011 | 8:46 am

    I will check it out an add it to the 800 million other things I don't understand.

  33. The Flying Chalupa
    April 14, 2011 | 5:15 pm

    I'm so glad you posted this because for the past week I have received SO MANY referrals from SU! I really MUST get to the bottom of this and get the tool bar. Thank you KLZ. I'm sure I'll be pestering you w/ questions.

  34. tulpen
    April 14, 2011 | 6:57 pm

    I never knew WTD StumbleUpon was til now. So thanks.


    I don't have time for blogging, so I doubt I'll be doing any Stumbling.

  35. Kristi {at} Live and Love...Out Loud
    April 14, 2011 | 7:32 pm

    I'm already following you on StumbleUpon. Why? Because I rock. And so do you for explaining SU to folks who've no clue. I'm sending the clueless to you for now on. ;)
    Stumbled this…

  36. Casey
    April 17, 2011 | 8:44 am

    I LOVE SU!!! I have to be very careful though because it has the power to absorb awesome amounts of time into its ether vacuum….when I should probably be vacuuming. I love it

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