“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:
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.