Yesterday, TechCrunch reported that Web site recommendation network StumbleUpon has bought out eBay and regained its rank as an independent company. Co-founders Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith announced in a blog post that they will lead the charge to make StumbleUpon “the web’s largest recommendation engine.”
Though familiar to social networking aficionados, StumbleUpon is not nearly as main stream as Facebook, Twitter or even fellow recommendation engine, Digg. According to comScore, StumbleUpon’s traffic plummeted over the past year (from 2.6 million unique visitors in Feb. 2008 to 1.4 million in Feb. 2009). That said, a site’s popularity these days can seemingly change overnight (as evidenced by Twitter’s growth over the last few months) so here we provide the skinny on this newly re-independent social bookmarking site:
What is it?
StumbleUpon is an online recommendation engine that allows users to share Web sites, news stories and videos with more than 7 million other users worldwide. Users can use the “Stumble” feature to discover the Web through randomly-selected links.
Who’s using it?
To date, StumbleUpon has nearly 7.5 million members – more than two-thirds of which are 35 and older.
How does StumbleUpon work?
Any registered StumbleUpon user can post a link to anything. That link will come up when users request new links by “stumbling,” and the site determines the link is relevant. Users can then rate links with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Links with more thumbs up will appear more prominently on the site.
Top tags include arts, bizarre, photography, politics, science, video and games.
Why do brands participate?
Brands can use StumbleUpon to publicize links and fuel traffic spikes to their Web site or blog. Marketers can also “pay-per-stumble.” In other words, StumbleUpon will show your page directly to interested web surfers.
How can marketers use StumbleUpon?
Marketers should develop content that has the best chance to rank well on StumbleUpon, keeping in mind that users will ultimately determine the popularity of their links. Before distributing content, they should also assess competitive brand strength on the site and shift strategy accordingly. Finally, marketers can evaluate opportunities with StumbleUpon’s advertising program.
By returning to its entrepreneurial roots, StumbleUpon hopes to refocus on its core initiatives and align itself as a major recommendation engine. Given this aggressive goal, marketers should keep a watchful eye on StumbleUpon in the coming months for new and innovative ways to use the tool to build their brand.