Should You Focus On StumbleUpon Now That It Passed Facebook As A Traffic Generator?

Should you start spending time on StumbleUpon now that reports claim it represents more than 50% of the social media traffic and has passed Facebook to the #1 spot?

Not really. Let’s take a second to understand if StumbleUpon can really send you more traffic, what kind of traffic and I’ll also give you 3 quick tips to help you increase traffic to your site.

What, you thought StumbleUpon was dead?

StumbleUpon is very much alive. In March 2011 Mashable reported 15 million users and new signups of around 500k per month. Those are huge numbers, how many services do you know that get half a million signups per month?

Also in March this year, while All Things Digital announced that SU was raising $17M they said that the discovery service was making 800 million content recommendations per month.

This week, both Mashable and Read Write Web announced that the service now represents 50%+ of the social media traffic.

The following chart shows how StumbleUpon have already passed Facebook as a social media traffic generator in the US.

StatCounter social media US monthly

But not globally although it shows a clear decreased for Facebook and a healthy increased for SU, as it’s shown in the next one.

StatCounter social media worldwide monthly

But Not All Traffic Is Created Equally

What does this mean for your blog or site? We know quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality, specially on the web. Let me share with you what I see on my Google Analytics for SocialMouths.

  • StumbleUpon has always been at least in the top 10 traffic sources for this blog but, in July 2011 it was actually the #3 position and has the #1 spot in referral sites. Facebook was the #5 traffic source and #2 referral site
  • It represented 4.85% of the total visits last month against a 2.92% from Facebook
  • 94.12% of the traffic are new visits while new visits from Facebook are only 36.27%
  • And it has an extremely low average time per site of .29 seconds compared to a 1:09 from Facebook
The traffic that comes from SU is a much lower quality but then again, that just traffic. The important thing for me is how it converts. I compared the conversions to my email list subscribers and StumbleUpon converts 47% less than the traffic that comes from Facebook.

But Wait!

Let’s be fair and get some perspective here. StumbleUpon is a Content Discovery Tool. People don’t really hang out there or focus on building relationships as they do on a social network. Perhaps we should look at it as, I don’t know… as a content discovery tool!

How different is it? a new visitor comes into your site and you have a split second to make a good impression, regardless if he/she is coming from organic traffic, Twitter or G+. The truth is that I did get a few new email subscriptions from it and a few months ago I worked for a client that “stumbled” into my site…

What Should You Do?

I do NOT suggest that you start spending your afternoons digging into it or hanging out there. I will not write a “10 steps to get traffic from StumbleUpon” list. I will only share with you the few things I do:

Just to make it clear, I do not spend any time on the site, as you would in Facebook for example.

Expand Your Net

Go on your account and use the “Find Friends” mechanism already offered by the site and connect with your already existing friends from Twitter and Facebook. You can also manually add people that you know from other platforms or search to see if you find some relevant people inside the platform.

Please do not get into a “number collecting mode” here or “what’s my following ratio” bullshit. Seriously.

Actually Use The Tool

I do not stumble at all and to be honest I don’t see myself doing it in the near future. But I do use StumbleUpon as a bookmarking tool. It’s easy, handy and I love that you get a visual with the thumbnails.

Add The Stumble Button To Your Blog

Make it easy for your readers to share the love. Add the StumbleUpon button to your blog.

I kick it up a notch by submitting my own content, that way my readers don’t have to go through the submission process and they can show me some sugar with only one click.


I haven’t seen anything official from Triberr but there are rumors about integrating with SU. It sounds interesting but we’ll see.

Over To You

What is your experience with StumbleUpon? If you’re a blogger, do you see action coming from the service? Or share your own ideas on how you handle it.

If you want to connect, here is my StumbleUpon profile.

Happy Stumbling!

  • I have to admit that I have completely ignored SU, which is probably not a smart move. I created an account and never did anythign with it. I guess the least I should do is add connections on there to get started. And I’m a HUGE fan of Triberr, so if they will be integrating SU as a feature I’m going to go ahead and get involved with it :). Thanks for the kick in the ass.

  • Tim

    I think the best way to use SU is as a advertising tool. I spend a dollar a day on paid discovery and it has boosted my overall traffic levels and has helped me get one or two posts seen a lot. It’s not always, let’s be honest, it’s rarely targeted traffic but when you are starting out traffic is traffic.

  • I get a ton of trafffic from stumbling, but my results are similar to yours. not many new subscribers and mostly low page views. Actually, as my SU traffic went up, so did my bounce rate.  I still stumble my own posts and other cool posts I find (like this one….) but, overall its not that big of a buying traffic generator. Its one of those networks like Digg, worth spending a little time on, but not worth hours of investment.

  • I’ve been using StumbleUpon for years. It does bring in some amazing traffic and it only seems to be getting bigger (obviously). But like you said, it shouldn’t be a substitute for traffic, it should just be an addition to what you’re already doing. Now I just need to add the Stumble button to my blog. Cheers!

  • Great addition Tim, I have never used paid discovery but like you say, it might be good to help jumpstart a new blog.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • I am an avid SU user with over 8K favourites.  I find it’s the type of tool that you get what ou put into it. So if you only stumble 1-2 things a week you aren’t going to see much in results but if you are active daily it can be a great social media tool – particularly if you use the share function on the toolbar.

    At first your bounce rates increase a bit but they will level out over time. I have quite a few readers that found me through SU and agree it’s a great discovery tool.

    If anyone wants to exchange shares I can be found at

  • stumbleupon is great source to drive traffic to your blog if the content has good and unique. But one thing u must kept in mind because these SU  is not constant so you must also search another way to drive traffic. 🙂

    If any users are active in using shared toolbar option in Stumbleupon follow me here

  • Hi Francisco,

    I use SU as a social bookmaking / discovering tool. I’ve made great connections with people there and a bonus, several of my posts have been viral on SU.

    I agree that not is the best bounce rate, but in my case Facebook either.
    An extra benefit on Stumbleupon is that older posts are “rediscovered” after long time and you can get traffic again, this not happens on FB.

    Worth the time there? Yes, but limited to 10/15 mins per day and I switch it off again 🙂



  • Hey Gera, thanks for sharing your experience. Good points.

    And I think you’re right, no more than 10 minutes per day, I don’t even spend that much.

    Gracias Gera!

  • Hey Ayngelina, thanks for sharing your experience. I knew you’re an active because I’ve seen you using the url shortener.

    Great that you mention how your bounce rates will level in the long run, I think that is a big concern with bloggers. I also recommend that when looking at analytics, we look at performance from different traffic sources so we can get a better idea of which referrals are impacting it.

    Thank you!

  • Good advice Morgan, I didn’t want people to adopt SU as a social network and think that they need to spend time there. It is only a nice traffic source that also has other benefits but that’s it.

    Thanks for stopping by =)

  • I agree, I have never been able to get any decent numbers from other services like Digg or Reddit.

    In regards to bounce rate, I try to look at traffic sources individually, that way I know where the quality is coming from and I can invest my time there. It’s obvious that you’re looking for quality but it doesn’t hurt to also have quantity when it comes to traffic.

    Thanks for your comment James!

  • Thank you Eugene, I forget about it all the time, it’s not something I have present in my daily action so don’t think you need to do too much.

  • Allow me to confirm those rumors 🙂

    Yes, Triberr will integrate SU at some point down the road soon. We want to do Facebook first, then SU and perhaps 2-3 other big traffic drivers.

    We’re also turning Triberr’s popularity into an additional traffic driver for members. For example, I came to this post from Triberr’s homepage where it occupies a top 10 ranking.

    To add to the discussion regarding the quality of traffic from SU, it’s low quality. People are looking to kill time, they are bored, and they are meandering. Thats why they are using SU and not google to find what they need…since they dont need anything particular.

    None the less, I dont think it should be ignored.

  • The big websites I manage (or have managed) have all gotten significant amounts of traffic from StumbleUpon.  Whether it beats Facebook or any other social platform seems to be a matter of niche. Non-mainstream (to be perfectly vague) niches do best on SU; more political or humor-oriented content seems to do better on Facebook.  Your Mileage May Vary, of course.

    What’s great about SU is the steady increase in traffic that it can bring to one’s pillar articles / evergreen content. My clients love to see that the articles I encouraged them to put lots of love and care into are continually attracting more and more “free” traffic from StumbleUpon, because people just keep thumbs-upping the page and even causing periodic bursts of thousands of hits.

    It’s true, StumbleUpon traffic doesn’t “convert” like FB traffic, most likely due to the personal recommendation factor (FB feels much more like a direct recommendation rather than a somewhat impersonal content recommendation engine).  But conversions are still a numbers game — bring in more traffic and you will get some percentage of that traffic converting to subscribers (or what-have-you).

    Oh, and thank you for recommending a totally sane course of action with respect to the use of StumbleUpon. Investment of time spent on that site has some seriously diminishing returns. I’ve gotten great results — and no better results — just by following the sort of script you laid out.

  • Paul J

    We are about to start collecting email addresses through our
    site and, as a result, people will receive a monthly newsletter; I therefore
    found your StumbleUpon article very interesting. In it you mentioned conversion
    of traffic and I was wondering how you compared the conversions of your email
    list subscribers in terms of Facebook Vs StumbleUpon?


    I hope that’s not an ignorant question but I am fairly new to
    this kind of stuff. Any help in pointing me in the right direction would be
    appreciated; I do have a Google Analytics account but I can’t work out how I’ll
    establish who signed up to a newsletter and where they came from.


    Many thanks,



  • Pretty good post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed…

  • StumbleUpon has consistenly been a huge traffic driver for me. Granted, my blog is still relatively small, but it’s usually my #1 referrer.

    I don’t spend a ton of time there, but I think recommending your site and using links can help. One of my posts received more than 7,000 views from SU in a matter of two days. You’re right – the conversion was low, but I still got a number of email subscriptions and new readers out of it.

    I think adding the button, recommending your site and using links are great ideas. For me, it’s an extra 5 minutes of work that seems to be worth it. Or, at least it doesn’t hurt. Also, because I use SU for bookmarking myself, this is really a natural thing for me. It doesn’t feel like an extra step.

  • I used to know someone who spent HOURS stumbling. It was insane! I like the 10-15 minutes per day.

  • Thanks Dino for confirming the rumors, it sounds like you have big plans for @triberr:twitter 

    We’ll keep an eye open!

  • Few minutes per day is a good start to interact and to not get lost in the SU addiction 🙂

  • If you install the SU extension / add-on  on Chrome / Firefox just enable it to make an up or down and off. I enable it in bursts of minutes and off.

    Hours on every social site isn’t a good idea 😉

  • Nice! Thanks for the post. I have tried to use SU in the past, but never thought of it as traffic generator….WOW good stuff!

  • And what do we do with the huge bounce rate and the mega inadequate behavior of the stumble button that simply gets you nowhere ( at least nowhere expected ) ?

  • Boris, I hear ‘ya man, I really do.

    The way I see it, bounce rate is just a number, of course it has some meaning when you tie it up to other metrics, like conversion. When we talk about SU, we have to look at it as a discovery tool, a simple and quick proposition to a new visitor. If you grab them, good. I expect a higher BR from it as a traffic source, that’s why I like looking at sources individually.

    Like I say in the post, even with those less than impressive numbers, it sends a ton of traffic and so far it has actually converted into some subscribers and an actual client with who I still keep a collaborating relationship. I’ll consider that a good return from a source we should not expect anything.

    As far as investing work and time into it, I’m not sure.

    Thanks for your thoughts =)

  • That’s a great point Laura, as long as it doesn’t take time off your daily action…

    7k views in 48 hours? Wow, I don’t think I’ve seen anything even close to that with this blog.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • I appreciate that. Glad to have you here!

  • I responded to your question via email Paul, did you get that?

  • Perhaps it is time to start using it again. Most of my traffic comes from Twitter and then Facebook and I have not really focused on SU at all. Thanks for sharing, Francisco.

  • Dewane Mutunga

    SU is good for getting hits. If you can convert any of that traffic then cool, but I wouldn’t even worry about converting from SU because it’s not that type of platform. I’ve been using it a lot more lately so I can leverage it however possible.

    P.S. If Triberr makes that move that will be very interesting and fun. 

  • I’ve had the same experience Francisco. Depending on the title and content I can get a lot of visits to the site but little to no conversions (and low time on page as well). However conversions is what I focus on and that means working to get in front of the right people, so I’ll keep working on that.

  • Ray

    I use stumbleupon occasionally. I didn’t realize it had that many users and is still very popular. I do like it better than some of the others. Stumbleupon is easy to use and just has a nice clean layout and design. Looks like I should be spending more time with it than I do.

  • There are so  many portals to create traffic that it can get out of control. I like FB as it gives me the opportunity to build relationships. 

  • Francisco, I spend more time and get more traffic from StumbleUpon than I do from Facebook. Because I have spent many hours on SU (much more than on Facebook) I do use it to make quality social connections. It’s great because some of those connections are with bloggers, but others are with designers, artists, and developers that I would not have connected with on Twitter – and certainly not on Facebook. The key is to start accepting shares from other users who will submit your posts and help them go viral. I’ll take SU any day over Facebook. 🙂

  • Ileane, thanks for sharing your experience, I think it’s great to get a different point of view. I have a couple of questions for you:

    1- How is the quality of the traffic you get from SU? Since you have a different approach to it. 

    2- What does “accepting shares” from other users mean? For example, I follow you and I have the “Accept shares to my toolbar” checked, am I supposed to be receiving shares from you? Or the other way around, how do I send you a share?

    It’ll be great if you can answer this for the rest of us that don’t have that much experience with SU.

    BTW, I just noticed that @gerasweetsfoods:disqus has 17k favs and a bunch of followers, so if you wanna jump in, go ahead dude!

  • I get a lot of traffic from SU, but like you say it’s not the most engaged traffic, but it still comes, I like to use SU like you as a bookmark keeper, I like it because you can stumble only among your favorites if you want.

    I also like to stumble for 5-10 minutes a day to find new websites in my niche that I can comment on, tweet about and maybe develop a new relationship.

    On Facebook and Twitter I know the people already, but on SU I discover new people, often times people starting out, it’s a great way to meet people that you can turn into leads or partners.

  • Since report was revealed i’m have diverted my 20% time on Stumbleupon.

  • You’re doing the great work because you’re having focus on Engage strategy.

  • Great post Francisco!  While I agree that 1) StumbleUpon can drive a lot of traffic but 2) the quality of that traffic might exhibit because a higher bounce rate because people are literally “stumbling,” it is still a great way of getting your content discovered.  Even if the bounce rate is 90%, 10% of that traffic is sticking and all it takes is a few people to thumb up your post to get even more web traffic.

    However, if bloggers or businesses are thinking they can use StumbleUpon like any other social bookmarking tool, they need to understand that, similar to any social media platform, those that actively participate in using the platform get the most out of it.

    I’ll rest my case.  I have a few blog posts on StumbleUpon with more thoughts about my experiences, but I’m not going to link-spam ‘ya.  Head on over to my blog if you’re curious 😉


  • Hi Francisco, 
    When you take a look at your SU toolbar (I’m using Chrome) you’ll see the word “Share”. When you click on it you’ll get a dialog box and on the far left the first thing listed is share by Email, the second option is “To a Stumbler”. 
    That’s how you send shares to your friends. So if you’re picking the right friends – and by that I mean power users like @gerasweetsfoods:disqus (and me) they’ll see your post and give it a thumbs up. By the same token, your friends can send you shares and you should return the favor.
    I just checked my list of friends that are accepting my shares and I don’t see you listed. Can take a look and make sure there’s a little check under the Following box on my profile? 
    If you still have questions about this, let me know and I can send you a screenshot. 
    Thanks and happy Stumbling! 

  • StubleUpon is good for increase website traffic. I use Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon social media sites.

  • When I first joined Stumbleupon, I used to get a lot of traffic on my blogs, but now I don’t and I have not determined why.

  • Thanks @Ileane and @socialmouths:disqus for the mention here!

    Am I power SU user? Haha I don’t think so, there many really power users that have 50K, 100K or more favorites. However the number of favs can be irrelevant, it’s more important have people with similar interest and don’t accept others just for the social reciprocation law. In other words, if I follow you and accepted share then you “should” follow me + accept shares.

    I’ve an article on my blog that explain all about SU-stuff, but I don’t think is a good idea to accept sharing with everybody. You’ll see the red numbers on your SU bar increasing exponentially and many times with crap.

    In my opinion the best is having selected people you trust in content, interests and have some social-mind. I reject several persons per week on SU telling “Hey I follow u, plz follow me back”. When you see their interests are nothing to do with mine and worst all their “ups” are on their own site. BTW you’ve on SU a maximum of 500 to follow and it can be reached easily.

    I suppose that I’d be notified by Disqus that I was mentioned but I didn’t receive any email and thanks @ileane:disqus  for inform me on Twitter that I’ve a follow up here.

    Have a great weekend!


  • Francisco, I’ve used SU quite a bit not to the extent of generating traffic. But its cool.

  • Anonymous

    saw this page bookmarked and very much liked what I read. I will surely bookmark it as well and also go through your other posts tonight.

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  • I Stumble but it doesn’t seem very relevant.  I appreciate your thoughts on using the service better.  It would appear that I need to look at using social media a little more effectively and actually think about what the different sites (like StumbleUpon) have to offer.

  • With the search engines it always hit or miss.  What is popular today might be second rate tomorrow and vice versa.  I think the key to all of this is diversification.  You need to focus on content, helpful engagement and intellectual interactions.  

  • greasyhooks

    lleane thanks for the help. Great posts. 

  • Should you start spending time on now that reports claim it represents more than 50% of the social media traffic and has passed Facebook to the #1 spot?

  • the discovery service was making 800 million content recommendations per month.

  • represents more than 50% of the social media traffic and has passed Facebook to the #1 spot?

  • The social media traffic and has passed Facebook to the #1 spot?

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