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Delicious Popular Page Posts Analyzed

Today I spent a little time looking at the popular page on delicious. Here’s a few of my scribbled notes looking at the headings (click to enlarge a little).

Delicious-Popular-Analysis

I find doing this type of analysis quite inspiring as I think about the type of posts and construction of titles that I might do in coming days.

How to Write Posts That Set StumbleUpon on Fire

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. Check out her new blog Anywired if you’re interested in earning an income online.

Since yesterday, StumbleUpon has sent me around 20,000 page views. It’s the single biggest referrer for both my blogs, despite one of them having been on the Digg front page three times! You could say that StumbleUpon traffic (and lots of it) is one of the main reasons I’ve been lucky enough to become a pro blogger.

In this post, I want to share all the trade secrets I’ve learned about how to craft posts that set StumbleUpon on fire. These are tips and ideas I use on a daily basis to get anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand (or more) StumbleUpon visitors every day.

I should note before we start that, while StumbleUpon use is heavier in some niches than others, these principles should help you to tap into SU traffic regardless of whether you’re blogging about blogging or Mexican walking fish. SU is arguably the most powerful promotional tool niche bloggers can use.

Learn the new rules

Your efforts will be hampered if you try to write posts to appeal to social media ‘in general’. Each service likes certain types of content and dislikes others. Digg likes mass appeal. Del.icio.us likes anything its users like, but an item won’t go popular unless the source page gets thousands of hits.

If you’re in a niche without mass appeal, SU can help you where the other services won’t. Digg’s categories are deliberately broad to avoid diluting its power to send waves of traffic. StumbleUpon’s categories can be much more specific. While the traffic is not always as targeted as you’d like, it’s still much more targeted than Digg’s.

This also fundamentally changes the way you approach ‘writing for social media’ when you’re writing for StumbleUpon. You no longer have to worry about pleasing everyone. In fact, sticking within the confines of your niche — even if it’s a small one — can mean the difference between badly targeted traffic vs. highly targeted traffic.

My first piece of advice on writing SU optimized content is to write posts for your target market, not for the many. This increases the chances that your post will be submitted to a more specific category yielding better targeted traffic.

Stumble no-go zones

Before I discuss the types of content that tend to do well on StumbleUpon, it’s worth outlining a few types of posts that rarely go popular on the service. I’m not suggesting that you cut out these content types, but it might be worth thinking about how you can make them more attractive to StumbleUpon.

  • Weekly link round-ups. One solution is to change your link round up to a weekly themed resource list.
  • News. Time-sensitive content is favored by Digg and Reddit, but StumbleUpon will generally only pick up timeless content. If it’s not going to be relevant in a month, it’s probably not going to get Stumbled much.
  • Posts that don’t make sense out of context. If your post doesn’t make sense without context it probably won’t get picked up by SU. Potential voters know that the visitors they send won’t ‘get’ your post.
  • Short, breezy posts. A short, value-packed post can do well on StumbleUpon, but breezy content without pithy tips is usually bypassed.
  • Posts that don’t sell themselves properly. New visitors don’t have much patience. If your mind-bending, life-changing post takes 500 words to really get going, your loyal readers will probably love it, but StumbleUpon will yawn. The value inside your post should be made clear as soon as possible.
  • Overly personal posts. Sorry personal bloggers, but this one is tough. If you’ve ever re-told a story about a friend to someone who doesn’t know them, you’ve probably noticed that the story doesn’t entertain them nearly as much as it entertained you. Highly personal content can be met with a fanatical response from readers who know you, but your average SU visitor won’t know why they should care.

Each of these content types may have a home on your blog and not everything can be optimized for StumbleUpon. The main reason I want to share these no-go zones is so you don’t pour unnecessary effort into one of these post types, only to find that it doesn’t send the traffic and potential readers you’d hoped.

StumbleUpon traffic.
Photo by swruler9284

Stumble-friendly post types

Just as there are certain content types that rarely sizzle with SU traffic, there are certain types of content that seem to be particularly well-loved by SU users.

  • Posts that look as if they took a long time to craft. SU users respect carefully crafted content. If your post is chock full of detail, examples, images, links or otherwise looks as if it took some time to put together, they’ll generally reward your efforts.
  • Unique how-to guides and advice posts. Certain topics have been done to death, but if you can tap into something people want to learn how to do but haven’t yet been told, SU will probably reward you.
  • Unique, novel and useful resource lists.
  • Pithy posts with poignant take-home points. If you can find the right words to say something important, or think of an apt metaphor, your post is likely to be popular even if it’s quite short.
  • Visually interesting posts. Captivating images can be a lot more gripping than a wall of text. I start each post I write on my blogs with an interesting image from Flickr and this always appears in the above-the-fold area of the screen. I think this might have a big part to play in my success with SU traffic. A gripping headline and a gripping image help to draw SU visitors into each post.
  • Treasure-trove content. Posts containing cool rarities and free stuff are usually highly popular.

There are other types of content that do well, but the above represents the most common formats for blog posts that fare well on StumbleUpon.

SUO: StumbleUpon Optimization

There are a few things you can do to optimize any post for StumbleUpon.

1. The Value/Curiosity headline formula. The two most effective ways to encourage someone to read your posts is to a) promise value that will make the time-investment worthwhile or b) make them curious. For option A, pick a headline that makes your post sound unmissable. For B, pick a headline that begs an explanation. For example: What’s the scariest fish in the Amazon? Hint: It’s not the Piranha. It’s far, far worse (source). Another simple hack is to make your headlines really big and eye-catching, so they gather more attention.

2. Start with an image. Our eyes are drawn to interesting images. Once you can bring a StumbleUpon visitor’s eyes down into your post, it’s a tiny step for them to make the move into your text.

3. Sell each post. Dedicate the first paragraph of each post to making it sound like something worth reading. Tell readers what they stand to get in return for their time investment.

Strategic tips

Having a core base of active SU users who read your blog is all you need to tap into a steady stream of SU traffic. If you haven’t yet developed this core base yet, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start using StumbleUpon and voting up content from other blogs and websites in your niche.
  2. Friend those who Stumble your articles and thank them. This will start a dialog that could turn them into a loyal reader of your blog.
  3. Write about SU and encourage readers to add you as a friend.
  4. Swap Stumbles with other bloggers.
  5. Link to your SU profile on your About page.
  6. Befriend active StumbleUpon users and stumble and review some of their content if they have a blog or website. Active users command more traffic and they’re more likely to repay the favor because they’re Stumbling all the time anyway!
  7. Add a Stumble button/link under each of your posts.
  8. Add a Stumble link to your Feedflare (find it in your Feedburner control panel).

Points to review

  • When writing for StumbleUpon, focus on writing value-packed posts for your target audience. Don’t try to accommodate everyone.
  • Be mindful of the post types that tend to receive little interest on SU.
  • Remember the post types that SU loves best.
  • Practice SUO.
  • Work hard at turning active SU users into loyal readers of your blog.

StumbleUpon – The Most Popular Social Bookmarking Site for (Pro)Bloggers

In the last ProBlogger reader poll I asked readers about their social bookmarking habits – more specifically to tell us about their favorite social bookmarking site.

Just under 1300 readers have voted to this point and the results look like this:

Social-Bookmarking

StumbleUpon wins quite convincingly with 31% of all responses (or if you subtract the ‘I don’t use any’ responses SU is a 38% slice of the total pie). I’ve included some reasons given by readers as to why they like StumbleUpon below.

Delicious and Digg were closer with 21% and 19% of the total vote.

What did surprise me a little was the 19% of those responding who don’t use social bookmarking. I guess it’s become such a normal and natural part of my own day that I forget that quite a few readers don’t get into it.

Lastly, on the ‘Other’ section of the pie – a few readers told us about their ‘other’ selections but none attracted more than 2 votes so I have not given them any category of their own. Those that did get the 2 votes were BloggingZoom, Sphinn and Sk*rt.

9 Reader Comments on StumbleUpon’s Popularity

Why did StumbleUpon win so convincingly? Here’s just some of the reasons that readers gave on the poll announcement post:

  1. supermom_in_ny – “I use StumbleUpon because I believe the playing field is more level than at digg. Your readers can stumble you and you can get lots of traffic very quickly. You don’t have to be part of an elite crowd like at Digg. StumbleUpon accepts a wider variety of topics as well as photos and videos. Digg users (voters) tend to enjoy more tech related articles and bizarre news stories.”
  2. How to Rule the World – “It seems to be the easiest way to get good traffic. People actually read the articles, sign up to my rss and come back again to visit my site. I also enjoy the ease of networking with other bloggers and the ability to chat and share ideas with others. Its not as secretive as digg…”
  3. Michael Martin – “StumbleUpon is my favorite because it’s the easiest way of finding new content.”
  4. UltraRob – “I really like StumbleUpon. I’ve found all sorts of cool things stumbling and I’ve made some good contacts from it too. I’ve also seen more traffic from it than other sites.”
  5. Ryan Oelke – “we find Stumble Upon generates the most traffic by far, which is one perspective on using bookmarking systems. Digg’s crowd is simply to tech oriented, even if they have multiple categories.”
  6. plonkee – “I love StumbleUpon. I’m a big fan of the randomness of it, especially if you have really disparate categories.”
  7. Michael – “Like many others, I look at most of them. But SU seems to have less junk and more of what I am looking for. And, from a blogger / webmaster’s side, it is the one that seems to work best for getting real traffic to my sites.”
  8. Cory – “I use StumbleUpon b/c it’s easy to use, and I feel like I won something when I get to be the one who discovers a new post.”
  9. Genesis – “I like StumbleUpon for several reasons. It sends me more traffic than any other social site. Many others, like Digg only count if you hit the front page and my blog isn´t really meant for Diggers. SU also has a variety of very useful content and I use it frequently to get ideas for blog posts and articles that I´m writing. It´s a great source of inspiration (and a good time waster, too, if you aren´t careful!).”

What is Your Favorite Social Bookmarking Site?

This week’s poll focuses upon social bookmarking sites.

Bloggers have a fascination with these sites – some because of the lure of avalanches of traffic, others because they find them to be sources of inspiration for posts and others because of the social interaction.

But which social bookmarking site do you like the most?

What is Your Favorite Social Bookmarking Site?
View Results


I’d love to hear why you choose the social bookmarking site that you do and if you choose ‘other’ what one you’d add to the list.

Thanks to sitemost on Twitter for the idea for this Poll.

Using StumbleUpon to Get on the Radar of Other Bloggers

Here’s a quick tip if you’re looking to get on the radar of another blogger (big or small).

Bookmark their work using StumbleUpon.

Two quick stories:

Story 1

The other day I got an email from a blogger that I’d never had direct contact with before. The message was simply a thank you for submitting one of their posts to SU. To be honest I barely remember stumbling their post – but I was the first one to do it and so my profile photo was featured as the one who discovered it. The result was that when they went to see where traffic was coming from at StumbleUpon they saw my profile and tracked me down at my blog.

Their email was a thank you and to let me know that they’d just subscribed to my two blogs (which are listed on my SU profile).

Story 2

Picture 2-13This morning I noticed some nice traffic coming into StumbleUpon from this post. When I went to its StumbleUpon page to see how it was going I noticed a familiar face as the person who discovered the page – TheNanny612.

The reason that her face is familiar is that TheNanny612 (Shana) has stumbled/discovered my posts before (on at least one occasion). Of course in seeing who was behind the profile I discovered her blogs including Social Desire (a blog about social media). Shana is now on my radar (and in my news aggregator as i just subscribed to her blog).

Now in both of these cases I and Shana only got ourselves one extra reader by being active on StumbleUpon – but you just never know whose ‘radar’ might might end up on and what might result in that.

For me it illustrates the power of being a good active citizen of online communities.

PS One More Example

As I’m about to his publish on this post I’m reminded of another illustration of this same principle – this time from Digg.

It must have been over a year back now but I still remember the day where a Digg User popped up on my radar – his name was Muhammad Saleem. These days he’s become something of a social media celebrity – but Muhammad has become quite well known (and known as a social media expert) over the last year or two. One of the reasons for his rise to social media stardom is that he has been a prolific user of social media sites – including Digg. He managed to become one of Digg’s top users and in doing so got on the radar of many bloggers.

Managing Facebook Friends

I was just over at Facebook and noticed that the option to create Friends Lists had been activated. Now you can organize your friends by type (handy). Now I’ve just got to find a spare 4 hours to sort through them all (feel free to befriend me here).

Facebook-Friends-Lists

Speaking of Facebook – Mark Cuban has written about his new Facebook Strategy now that he’s hit the 5000 friend limit. I think we’ll see more and more people begin to hit this ceiling and grapple with what to do.

Blogging vs Social Networking

Blogging-Social-Networking
Hugh McLeod writes:

“So that’s why I have a blog, I suppose. I like the control. I write something, I post it, it gets read, hopefully good things happen as a result, somewhere on this small blue planet of ours. Unlike a book or a movie or a TV commercial, there’s no waiting around for somebody else to greenlight it. The only light is the greenlight….

I guess my point is, if you’re one of these people considering giving up on blogging in exchange for paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace, or whatever they throw at us mere mortals, bear in mind you are giving up on something rather unique and wonderful.’

Hugh’s onto something with this. I chatted with an ex-blogger recently who lamented that he ended his blog 12 months ago to spend more time exploring social networking. His words still ring in my ears (paraphrased):

“I was offered a job through my blog….
I have 9000 ‘friends’ at facebook and myspace….
I used to know most of my readers by name and knew that they all knew mine – even though there were only 200 a day….
I know a lot more people see my profile on facebook – but most of them just are hunting for friend bait….
I used to spend hours writing things that meant something on my blog….
I now spend hours updating people on the lattes I drink and people I meet on Twitter….
I had a brand of my own on and on my own property on my blog….
I now have a brand on someone else’s property….”

His ultimate reflection was to wonder what he could have achieved if he’d invested the amount of time and energy into this blog as the time and energy he invested into his social networking.

My own opinion with social networks is that they’re not all bad (and you don’t need to choose between blogging and social media) – but that I see them as a secondary and supportive strategy to support my primary activities – those being my blogs. Social networks have been useful as ‘straws’ in the overall ‘nest’ of my brand.

Social networks (as well as other social media and web 2.0 sites) have the ability to reinforce your brand, drive traffic, introduce you to new audiences and open up new networks – but in my own business the primary vehicle that I use at present to drive forward what I do remains my blog.

Further Reading – Blog Bloke wrote on a similar topic a few days back. I don’t know that social networking will die – as he does – but rather think we’ll see it gradually integrate more with blogging and hopefully see the pendulum swing back to a more balanced view of these types of sites.

Social Media Marketing – Drive Traffic to Your Blog

Maki from Dosh Dosh has put together a great post titled The Importance of Social Media Marketing: Why You Should Learn and Master it which I think gives some great arguments for bloggers to familiarize themselves with (and participate in) the social media scene.

Probably the most compelling article is an example that he gave from his own experience:

“I recently launched a new blog a months ago and took around 20 hours to create a feature article. I subsequently promoted it on various social websites through my own influencer profiles. I also sent out emails to large sites in the same niche.

The article eventually got to the Digg, del.icio.us and Reddit frontpage and received over 140+ reviews on StumbleUpon. It accumulated well over 800 unique links, including some from very heavily trafficked websites. Some of them alone sent more traffic than the frontpage of del.icio.us.

The article is more than a month old and it is still receiving incoming links. Subscribers are up by over 800% and I received around 12K pageviews everyday for the first month. Bear in mind this is only a one month old site.”

What a great example. Maki’s written a lot more in his post – the full thing is well worth the read.

Why Twitter Isn’t a Waste of Time

This post on using Twitter was submitted by Sheila Scarborough from Family Travel, Perceptive Travel and Fast Machines.

TwitterI’m Twitter-pated.

Admittedly, when I saw random user “tweets” projected onto a big screen at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive last year, it seemed like a mildly-amusing but rather silly new tech toy.

As a freelance writer/entrepreneur in her mid-forties, married with two kids, it’s hard to justify fitting one more thing into my life. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the available social media options; Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, StumbleUpon, etc.

So, why Twitter?

Think of it as a stream of mini blog posts (and we all know why blogging isn’t a waste of time.) Think of it as an interesting news feed. Don’t judge it by the continuously-updated public timeline of often pointless blather. The value is in your own micro-community of followers and who you choose to follow.

You don’t want the wisdom of any crowd; you want the wisdom of a carefully-selected crowd.

Here are some other reasons to tweet:

Widen your network – As a blogger, you know the importance of the human connection, both for personal enjoyment and professional growth. I like to meet new people, and I’ve found that my Twitter group is very different than my normal writer’s network. I don’t see many of the names that I commune with on other bulletin boards or blogs, but I get to know many early tech adopters and social media experts, and they get to know me.

Learn stuff – Would you like to read some of the daily thoughts and ideas from experts and thought leaders like Gina Trapani, Ben Yoskovitz, Duncan Riley, Connie Reece, Dwight Silverman and Chris Brogan?

Me, too.

Sure, I read their blogs, but there are nuggets on their Twitter updates as well.

Teach stuff - You have expertise in some area. You know something that would interest others. Here’s another platform where you can show your stuff to an audience that you otherwise might not reach.

Showcase your stuff - Your name, your ideas and your personal brand are already out there via your blogging work. Twitter is one more way to extend your name and brand visibility. Claim your Twitter profile as a blog on Technorati and build some link juice as well.

Become conversant in rapidly-developing technology – What better way to learn about fresh tech ideas than immersion into some of that technology, amongst the biggest brains who develop it? I love my fellow freelance writers, but not all of them are into blogging and even fewer are into the details of social media, so I must go where the action is to learn about it.

The 140-character limit also forces better, more focused Web 2.0 communication — this is a situation where you gotta think INSIDE the box.

Keep up with the buzz even when you’re on the move, with text or IM – Twitter on your mobile device means that you can read and send tweets wherever you have cell phone service. I personally do not use it this way, but I know others who like the “always on and plugged in” continuous connection.

Market your work - This comes last for a reason. We are already bombarded enough by ads and marketing plans, and I do what I can to avoid them (hurray for satellite radio — I’m literally willing to pay to avoid stupid ads on my radio.) Don’t stomp into a community like Twitter and start blatantly selling your wares; we see what you’re doing and we won’t like it. Be cool.

As with any technology, there are improper Twitter uses and habits.

Think before you tweet, Part 1 – Do not answer the Twitter question, “What are you doing?” every 2.5 minutes; you’ll just annoy your followers. I saw this today from a respected tech guru: “Sorry, a Twtr for every Flickr photo you are uploading is way, way too many. Removing you from my list now.” Ouch.

Think before you tweet, Part 2 – Twitter messages are archived and searchable. Forever. Remember that.

It’s not all about you – This is not a contest to see how many you can follow or how many sign up to follow you. A real network offers mutual help, nurturing relationships and good company; it’s not a numbers game. If you treat it that way, you’ll lose most of the major benefits.

There’s still real life out there, so live it - Maybe only someone like Robert Scoble can Twitter his kid’s birth. For the rest of us, we’d like to spend some non-tech time with air-breathers. You know, humans.

Twitter is just one more communications tool, perhaps more useful than youíd think. If you check it out and donít like it, the world will not end. You can always do something really radicalÖ.like meet someone in person.

photo via mashable