What is a discovery?

You discover a page when you are the first to submit it to StumbleUpon. You can see the member who discovered the page as well as the date when it was discovered to the right of the submission page (http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/url-of-the-submitted-page):

StumbleUpon: Who Discovered

What is a category?

A page is discovered in one of the multiple categories. The category the page is submitted to determines who will see it. StumbleUpon is based on the relevance mechanism: each member is categorized based on his interests – these interests are determined based on the preferences specified by him and also based on the member’s browsing behavior (topics of the articles the member usually stumbles and reviews).

What is a thumb up?

A thumb up aims to mean two important things:

  • A thumb-up is a vote: it promotes a post and allows more members to see the post;
  • A thumb-up shows SU what you like and encourages the machine to show you more stories of the kind.

What is a thumb-down?

Like a thumb-up, a thumb-down is called to accomplish two important roles:

  • It votes against the story (the member doesn’t want more users to see it);
  • It tells the algorithm that you don’t want to see similar stories any more.

What is a review?

You can post your comment on the page and this comment will appear on the submission page.

What is a tag?

You can tag each page based on its topics – like the category it was submitted to, tags determine who sees the page.

Building Relationships

Like with all other social communities, connections are everything at StumbleUpon – they determine:

  • Your member’s score: the more friends you have, the higher your authority as a member is.
  • Your influence: The more friends you have, the more people you can share the story is.

StumbleUpon: build connections

So building connection on StumbleUpon is an essential step to becoming a power member. Most effective methods to do that are:

  • Initiate friendship: send friend requests. A friend request may be also followed by a personal message detailing why it would be a good idea to be friends (similar interests, similar stories, location, etc);
  • Give testimonials: generously review other members’ profiles and give real, detailed feedback: not just "good stumbles" but why they are good and how they are different from other members’ stumbles.

Sharing stories with friends:

You can share your finds on StumbleUpon using two tools:

  • Toolbar share: allows to send a page one friend at a time (with a short message);
  • Web share (accessed from "Your Favorites" page when you hover over the page thumbnail): allows to share the story with all/many friends in a bulk (add a short message along with it).

StumbleUpon: Share

Your friends will be able to see your share twice:

  • Toolbar notification: your share will be displayed on your friend’s toolbar
  • Email notification: unless your friend unsubscibes from email notification, your share will come to his email address.

StumbleUpon Mathematics

What determines the popularity of each page on StumbleUpon? How to predict the page popularity and traffic? There is no official answers to these questions but there are some educated theories and assumptions that will help you understand StumbleUpon algorithm.

Each time a story has been discovered it ranks on a 0-5 stars scale which makes up the submission score. The submission score is determined by a number of factors, most important of them are supposed to be:

  • The reviewers’ and stumblers’ score: each member of StumbleUpon is ranked based on his authority: the number of thumbs-up he gave and reviews he made, the number of testimonials he received, the number of subscribers and friends, his age as SU member, the diversity and consistency of topics he stumbles (diversity in domains and consistency of topics: how many stories from various domains but similar topics he has stumbled so far).
  • The rate at which the story is thumbed up: if you keep the momentum, the story might go hot.
  • The source of the thumb: I am pretty sure that if the story is only thumbed/up reviewed from the page itself, it might look suspicious. Random thumbers clicking the StumbleUpon button should thumb it up and review as well.
  • The submission category: some categories are so unpopular, that the page won’t get much traffic no matter how many reviews and thumbs it may receive – there are simply not enough people interested in that topic to see the submission.
  • The submission tags: the more related tags are added to the submission, the broader public will see the page. Besides, like with the category, this also depends on the tags popularity itself.
  • The diversity of the stumblers: it looks unnatural if same people stumble same domain again and again.

StumbleUpon represents the page popularity by stars used within Google search engine results page and also on the submission page:

StumbleUpon stars

StumbleUpon stars

The exact algorithm behind the stars is unclear. It appears to depend on the category and thumb-up rate and members’ diversity.

Find more on StumbleUpon maths here.

Promoting a story on StumbleUpon

How StumbleUpon is different from other social voting sites? The best thing about SU is that it is able to send huge amounts of traffic even to pages that never went hot. Therefore knowing how to promote your site properly there is both essential and useful.

Based on the essential basics outlined above as well on general observations and experiences, here are some tactics you should consider when promoting a story or a site on StumbleUpon:

  • Diversifying the discoveries: it is essential to make sure different members discover all posts from your domain;
  • Diversifying the reviews: like with discoveries, each post should be reviewed by different members;
  • Relevant category: make sure the page is submitted to the most relevant category – this will ensure that people are most likely to like the story and want to share it.
  • A lot of relevant tags: apart from preserving the submission relevancy, tags ensure that your post is found using the search feature.

By Ann Smarty, an Internet marketer and social media expert maintaining an SEO consulting blog.

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