Most businesses are aware of a wide host of different social networking tools: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have enough exposure that it would be difficult to find a business owner who has not heard of at least one of the three. However, just under these “Big Three” in social media are a whole host of other, smaller networks which offer varying degrees of usefulness depending on a business’s industry and size. Social bookmarking sites and discovery engines are an entire class of such networks, which focus on linking users to websites based on their interests. Of these sites, one of the most widely used is StumbleUpon.
What is Social Bookmarking?
Social bookmarking sites have a wide variety of specific functions. However, what they all have in common is that they are concerned primarily with linking people’s interests to content on the internet. The method of doing this is social in nature, rather than being exclusively algorithm-based, as is the case for search engines. How this social aspect is handled varies from site to site, but all utilize some measure of community, where those interested in a certain topic help create a sort of “namespace” for sites which contain that content.
The best way to describe social bookmarking and discovery engines is to use an example, however. A business-related website might create a profile on StumbleUpon. This profile enables them to be found by other StumbleUpon users. Those who are interested in business might compile business-related websites, and evaluate sites based on their relevance to the business world.
Then, when someone searches on terms related to business, StumbleUpon enables users to “stumble” onto websites related to their interests which they otherwise might not have ever found. Once there, they are then also able to evaluate relevance. The result is that sites are able to market in a somewhat targeted way to those users whom they would most benefit.
How to Use StumbleUpon
There are three basic steps to getting the most out of StumbleUpon. First, create a profile on the StumbleUpon website, and flesh it out with a few of your different interests. Find an interest which refers to your business, and put your business in that interest, as well as a few other websites in your industry that you like. You’ll notice that not all of your links are going to go to your website. This is because StumbleUpon has a strict anti-spam policy, and will remove profiles which are deemed to have been created for promotional purposes only.
The next thing you need to do is to put the StumbleUpon widget on your website somewhere. This is the same concept as putting up your Facebook profile. It directs traffic to your StumbleUpon page and makes it easier for StumbleUpon users to find your site.
The last thing you need to do is to keep it up. The major difference between StumbleUpon and other social media outlets is that there is slightly less interaction with people; “likes” aren’t really a thing. However, the relevance of your site is going to be highly dependent on whether or not people find your site. Finding your site is related to you having a robust, active profile with which you occasionally go onto the internet and try and find something new.
In short, StumbleUpon rewards those who use it as intended. This means that it is not for everybody, as it will not really “feel” like marketing so much as participation. However, if you have a thirst for the newest knowledge in your industry, StumbleUpon can be a fun way to improve your visibility in the process of staying up-to-date. However, it is not recommended as a “marketing outlet” because it severely limits that process. Think of it as a supplement to your research, though, and you might see your visits go up as people “stumble” onto your site.