The “Right” Way To Use StumbleUpon

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When it comes to StumbleUpon, there’s a right way to use it and then there’s all the other ways people use it. StumbleUpon_logo

Ok, maybe there’s not a “right” way, but there certainly are recommended things to do.

Why Join StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon (SU) is like channel surfing for the internet. The best way I can describe it is a random button you get to hit to browse pages across the web. The awesome thing is that these aren’t just random pages, they’re random pages that are matched to your preferences.

You get to select categories that you are interested in AND have the ability to thumbs up or thumbs down each page you view. SU “learns” your preferences and uses them to filter new sites to show you every time you hit the Stumble Button.

Imagine if someone was able to recommend one of your blog posts to thousands of people. Pretty cool idea, huh? That’s exactly what StumbleUpon does – it not only recommends sites for you to view, it also takes all of your recommendations and passes them on to other people with similar interests.

If you’re not already signed up with StumbleUpon, do these things right now. Then come back and read the rest of this post.

  • Join StumbleUpon and create your profile
  • Select categories that interest you
  • Find friends (like me!) that can help recommend sites you might like

Download The StumbleUpon Toolbar

Why? Because it makes stumbling easier. Plugins are available for Firefox and Chrome. I use Chrome and this is what my toolbar looks like:

Stumble Toolbar

I also like using the iPhone app for stumbling throughout the day. More on that later.

Start Stumbling

Stumbling consists of 4 things:

  1. Hitting the Stumble button – this takes you to a random page that is listed within the categories you selected earlier.
  2. Deciding if you like or dislike the page:
    • If you like it, hit the Thumb’s Up button. The thumb will turn green. If you like the page so much you want to share it, the Stumble toolbar has share icons you can click to share the page with Twitter, Facebook, and more.
    • If you dislike it, hit the Thumb’s Down button. The thumb will turn red.
    • If you’re kind of “meh” and don’t really like or dislike it, just hit the stumble button again without using the Thumb’s Up or Thumb’s Down buttons.
  3. Leaving reviews – If you have something to say about a page you stumbled, you can leave a review by hitting the quote icon on your toolbar.
  4. Discovering a post – StumbleUpon only makes recommendations based on sites that have been “discovered” into the Stumble system. If you’re the first person to Thumbs Up a site, you’ll be taken to the Discovery Page.

Make Good Discoveries

Whenever you’re the first person to Thumbs Up a site, you’ll be taken to the discovery page.

Discovery On Stumble

There are 4 REALLY IMPORTANT things you need to do in order to make a good discovery

  1. Choose the right StumbleUpon topics. Placing a page under the wrong topic will kill a stumble. In the photo above, you’ll see that StumbleUpon will supply suggested categories. These are based on your StumbleUpon history and are NOT necessarily related to the post you are discovering. Instead, use the dropdown box labeled “Other” to see the full list of popular topic categories and choose 1-3 that are most appropriate for the post.
  2. Add your own topic(s) only if it’s REALLY applicable. For example, my post about Facebook vs. Breastfeeding was categorized under Health, Women’s Issues, and Breastfeeding (Breastfeeding is the user-entered topic). The majority of stumblers are not going to be looking for breastfeeding-specific posts, but for those that are, my post is more likely to be recommended to them.
  3. Leave a review. StumbleUpon will tell you this is optional, but it’s really not. If you discover a page without leaving a review, it will be much less likely to take off. The stumble is killed before it even starts. Oh My Gosh Beck has a great post about how to review a Stumble Upon post in 2 seconds that I highly recommend.
  4. Know the difference between a good Stumble post and a bad one – this brings us to my next point.

Know Which Posts Are Stumble-Worthy

Not every post is a good candidate for StumbleUpon. The point of SU is to provide relevant content to people. If you add something that immediately get’s a “thumbs down” or worse, a negative review, it’s bad for everyone involved.

Giveaway posts, coupon posts, or other posts that are time-specific are NOT considered stumble-worthy. Why? Because 3 months from now, that post will no longer be relevant.

Ask yourself if other people would genuinely be interested in reading the page you want to stumble. For example, if I wrote about Levi’s first sunburn, I’m sure my mom would be interested in reading the post, but I’m guessing the rest of the Internet probably doesn’t care. If instead I turned it into a post about Summer Outdoor Safety Tips, now it appeals to a much wider audience.

Keep On Stumbling

By stumbling and discovering new posts, you build up your stumble mojo and are more likely to help posts take off. As I mentioned earlier, I use the SU iPhone app to stumble throughout the day.

Wield your power wisely – if you only use StumbleUpon to discover your own posts, it will kill your mojo. But if you’re regularly stumbling, giving posts a “thumbs up” and discovering content from other sites, when you discover your own posts, they’re more likely to take off and receive thousands of views.

If you found this post useful, please feel free to practice your new stumble power by giving this page a Thumbs Up from your toolbar or by using the Stumble button below.

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  1. How do you feel about stumbling posts with product reviews? Stumble-worthy or falling under the same category as giveaways?
    Jenn [ Crippled Girl ] recently posted..Can probiotics lead to better overall health?

  2. Jen, thanks for linking to my StumbleUpon post! :)
    Becky Fuentes recently posted..The Best of the Best Cookbooks Giveaway

  3. Great overview! I should separate mine more often like I did with King Arthur Flour. :)
    Darcy recently posted..Two New Goosebumps Adventures DVDs Giveaway (2 winners) ~ US ~ 9/13

  4. Very informative. I did learn something new, thanks!
    Shop with Me Mama (Kim) recently posted..What Is Your Dream Vacation?

  5. Alan T. (Omega Doom) says:

    Very nice job on this post! You didn’t make it sound overly complicated, which is good thing. I don’t use StumblUpon often because I’m already overwhelmed with Facebook, twitter, blogs, and other stuff in my life. Still, you wrote an impressive how to use guide! Thanks!

    • Thanks Alan. I'm with you on the social networking overload, too. But I really like StumbleUpon for random entertainment when I'm bored (especially if I'm stuck in line somewhere)

  6. Nice writeup.Thanks. :)

  7. Clear-cut, concise and very helpful. Thanks and have a beautiful day! Going to try to follow you in Stumbled-Upon as well.



  8. Great post! Just a quick question about the iPhone app: I use it too but there is just a thumbs up/thumbs down with no option to post a review so does stumbling with the app really do the sites much good?

    Cathy Davis recently posted..Starbucks Merry Deals!

    • There's a little icon on the lower right side of the app that allows you to post a review. I don't recommend discovering with the app, though, because it doesn't allow you to select categories. If you need screenshots to help, email me and I'm happy to send some over –

  9. Thanks for this great post. I joined Stumble Upon a while ago, but wasn’t really sure how to do everything. I only now figured out how to get the toolbar and I wasn’t sure if I had it installed correctly at first. I think I do now. I followed the link at Oh My Gosh Beck to find this post.
    kewkew recently posted..Muffin Tin Monday: A Promised Treat +

  10. great advice on how to get the best out of the website. thanks for your great blog

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