social media how to

You’ve likely heard of StumbleUpon. But do you really understand how to use its full power?

StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking and rating site where people can “Stumble” their favorite web pages, write reviews and share their discoveries with their followers.

This network is like Delicious, but with a more enhanced social platform and sharing system.

Why Use StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon can be a great site to organize your favorite bookmarks, although it isn’t quite as advanced as Delicious in organization. You can easily save items by giving them the thumbs-up using the “I like it” buttons on the StumbleUpon toolbars for Firefox or Chrome.

StumbleUpon Toolbar

Use the StumbleUpon toolbars (Chrome on top, Firefox on bottom) to see Stumblers who like a specific page.

Aside from organizing your own favorites, StumbleUpon is also used to drive traffic to a specific webpage, photo, video or other website. When you favorite a particular item in StumbleUpon, it’s recommended to the StumbleUpon network. People who express interest in a topic will be shown your page if it falls under that topic and has received good ratings from other Stumblers when they use the Stumble button in their toolbar or when they search StumbleUpon.

Saving Your Favorites

There’s more to saving your favorite pages than just hitting the “I like it” button. You can use the Comment bubble on the Chrome toolbar or the Info button on the Firefox toolbar to go to the StumbleUpon page for the URL and enter a detailed review, which is appreciated much more than just a thumbs-up.

Whenever you’re favoriting an item, be sure to use the tag icon to add tags to your favorites. StumbleUpon’s search is less than exact when it comes to relocating something that you’ve favorited and hope to return to, so tag that item appropriately so you can find it when you need it.

StumbleUpon Tags

A view of your tags in your StumbleUpon favorites.

You can see your own favorites’ tags by going to your favorites and selecting Tags. The ones you use the most will show up larger than the rest so you can easily spot your favorite topics, or you can hover over the Tags link to see them in order of the number of favorites you’ve added in that tag.

You can also share your StumbleUpon favorites through Twitter and Facebook icons on the toolbars.

Creating Your StumbleUpon Profile

After you’ve registered for StumbleUpon, and before you begin building your StumbleUpon network, you’ll want to create a great StumbleUpon profile. There are two aspects to your profile you’ll want to be sure to complete before you start contacting others to follow you.

Your Bio

You can create a detailed bio by going to your Settings menu to Customize Profile. In the “introduce yourself to everyone” box, you can enter a detailed description of yourself as well as links to your website, blogs and other social networks.

StumbleUpon Customize Profile

Your StumbleUpon profile settings page.

Although they’re nofollow links, they’ll garner you traffic as people visit your profile based on the fact that they like what you Stumble.

StumbleUpon Profile

Here’s how your StumbleUpon profile introduction might look.

Once you have your avatar and bio information completed, the next thing you’ll want to do (if you haven’t already) is fill your profile with favorites in topics you’re interested in. This will show people who visit your profile what you’re into and that you’re active, and will make them more likely to follow you.

Finding Friends on StumbleUpon

There are plenty of guides on generating traffic from StumbleUpon. If you don’t want to wait for the luck of the draw of a power Stumbler coming across and liking your content, then your next-best bet is to build a strong following to share your content with.

Find or Invite Your Friends

The first place to search for StumbleUpon followers is within your own networks. After you’re logged in, go to the Stumblers tab and use the Find Friends option. StumbleUpon can connect to your Gmail, Yahoo or Windows Live (Hotmail) email contacts as well as your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to see if any of your connections are also Stumblers.

StumbleUpon Find Friends

Find and invite your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.

When it pulls up your contacts, it will show you their icon, user name, real name (if available), number of favorites (which shows if your connections are active), and their main interests.

Contacts on StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon lists your contacts with their number of favorites and interests.

From here, you can select people you want to follow based on interest, or let it “Select All” to follow all of your contacts from a particular network.

Find Stumblers Based on Interest

There are several ways you can find Stumblers to connect with based on interest.


First off, you can see Stumblers who follow particular topics by looking under the Discover tab at your own favorite topics, listed to the right and based on the number of times you thumbs-up items tagged with that particular topic.

StumbleUpon Favorite Topics

StumbleUpon keeps track of your favorite topics in the Discover tab.

When you look at a particular topic, you’ll see a random selection of people who like that topic.

StumbleUpon Stumblers by Interest

Here’s a look at Stumblers who like a particular topic.

Next, under the Discover tab, you can look at general topics.

StumbleUpon General Topics

StumbleUpon’s general topics listing in the Discover tab.


You can also look at StumbleUpon tags for recently hot and most popular topics.

StumbleUpon Tags

Here are Recently Hot and Most Popular All Time tags on StumbleUpon.

If you can’t find the topic or tag you’re looking for, you can add the keyword in the URL to see if it comes up, such as or


There are also groups on StumbleUpon. They’re not easy to search – you have to go by category to find the group where people interested in a particular topic would hang out.

StumbleUpon Groups

Here are general categories for StumbleUpon groups.

Most groups seem to be inactive—only moderators can add related sites for group members to peruse, and most of the last-added sites are over a year old. Yet many groups have 10,000+ members, so they’re a great way to find Stumblers based on interest.

By Favorite Item

If you want to be specific and only follow people who like a certain post or website, you can find out who have favorited a page that you’re on by using the StumbleUpon toolbars. If you have the Firefox StumbleUpon toolbar, for example, you would use the Info button. If you have the Chrome StumbleUpon toolbar, you would use the Comment icon.

This will take you to the StumbleUpon page for a particular URL.

StumbleUpon URL Page

Here’s a StumbleUpon URL page for Social Media Examiner.

Here you’ll see the people who’ve favorited the page as well as those who’ve written reviews. Needless to say, if you’re specifically looking for people who like writing reviews on a particular topic, you might want to start with those who are writing reviews on websites in your industry.

Connecting With Stumblers

StumbleUpon Common Interests Graph

StumbleUpon shows common interests between you and another Stumbler.

Whenever you go to a Stumbler’s profile page, you’ll see their avatar and basic biography, plus some statistics about their Stumbling habits, which will let you know whether they’re an active Stumbler.

You’ll also see whether you have a lot in common with this Stumbler based on both of your interests and items that you’ve given the thumbs-up.

Following a Stumbler

Here’s how to follow a Stumbler.

If you decide to follow the user, you’ll have the added option to accept shares to your toolbar, meaning that when they want to share an item with you, it will show up in your toolbar’s inbox.

After you follow someone, if you want them to reciprocate and follow you in return, you have two options. You can send the Stumbler a message, letting them know you followed them and would like them to follow you in return so you can exchange favorites. Or you can also go the extra mile and review the Stumbler and then send them a message, letting them know you followed and reviewed them, and hope they will follow you in return to exchange favorites.

Receiving Shares

To receive shares from the people you follow, simply keep an eye on the red number in your StumbleUpon toolbar. Click on this number to get the latest shares from your following.

Viewing StumbleUpon Shares

Your friends can share their favorites with you with comments.

Be sure to thumbs-up only the items you like, and review them for bonus points (especially if you’re hoping for reviews for your shares in return). You can also reply to the Stumbler to let them know you liked it, give them additional feedback, or answer any questions they may have asked in their request.

It’s amazing how that little response can make the difference and strengthen your connection with other Stumblers. I’ve shared items with over 500 followers and received very few replies, as many people will just thumbs-up an item and move on. Usually the people who reply to me will be the ones I notice more when they send over their next share.

Sharing Etiquette

Once you have followers, you can start sharing your favorites with them via the StumbleUpon toolbar or from the StumbleUpon page for that URL. You should include a personal message, up to 140 characters.

StumbleUpon Sharing

Sharing favorites with your followers.

Please note that there are certain rules of StumbleUpon etiquette that you must follow, especially when it comes to shares. People who are following you and accepting shares from you via their toolbar will receive these shares in their toolbar. Since StumbleUpon banned sharing to all followers, the number of shares has decreased significantly, BUT it’s still possible to overdo it and drive your followers bananas to the point that they will unfollow you.

I would suggest no more than one share a day or maybe two shares in one day if you don’t share things regularly. Any more than that will probably get you unfollowed, as no-one wants that flashing red number to be in the hundreds.

StumbleUpon Advertising

If you’re looking to share your content beyond the base of your followers, you can always look into StumbleUpon advertising, which is fairly inexpensive. I used it once and it did bring traffic to the page I had targeted.

The traffic from StumbleUpon on the days that I receive paid Stumbles spent an average of 3 minutes on the page, but the bounce rate was 96% with an exit rate of 90%. Comparatively, the traffic I received from LinkedIn Ads spent less time on the page, but had a lower bounce rate of 85% and a much lower exit rate of 60%. Of course, when it comes to cost, I received over 350 visitors from StumbleUpon Ads for a tenth of the cost of receiving fewer than 100 visitors from the LinkedIn Ads.

Needless to say, it’s important to use Google Analytics when advertising with StumbleUpon (or any other social advertising campaign) to be sure that the incoming traffic is actually valuable for your goals.

Your Stumbling Experience

If you like this article, please Stumble it (see below for Stumble link).

Do you use StumbleUpon? Please share your experience from social networking to traffic generation in the comment box below. Also, if you want to connect on StumbleUpon and share favorites, please send me a message at kikolani.

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  • Barbara Ling

    Stumbleupon can be a *tremendous* boon not only for your materials, but also the goodness that you find and share online. I really have to return to my roots and reinclude it again…thanks for the prompt!

  • @_SENF_

    Thanks, imho StumbleUpon needs more attention. This is an interesting aspect for marketers (but notice that there are rules regarding commercial sites): “How do i submit a site to StumbleUpon”:

  • Mike Holmes

    Thanks Kristi,

    I always heard people talk about the power of Stumbleupon but I never knew how to harness it. I really do appreciate this comprehensive guide. I’m about to give it a great review right now 😉

  • Are Morch

    Hi Kristi.

    WoW! Awesome article here on StumbleUpon.

    I have to admit StumbleUpon I have not used very well. Yes, I use it. But when I read your article here I know I have a job to do. Need to clean up the ‘mess’ I have at my StumbleUpon account at the moment.

    I have the plugin on WordPress, and I notice when I use I get a spike in traffic. But have not looked enough into it yet. So thanks for this really valuable StumbleUpon guide.

    It is bookmarked :)

    Cheers.. Are

  • John Soares

    Kristi, I’ve been holding off on using StumbleUpon, in part because I don’t want to have to learn and deal with yet another social media network that may or may not benefit me. But you’ve explained this in clear detail, so now I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  • PC Treasures

    Great post, Kristi! I’ve gone away from StumbleUpon numerous times because I just couldn’t get the hang of it. You made me want to try again. :)

  • ragz

    Nice and helpful guide.Thanks for the post.

  • Kristi Hines

    You’re welcome! Yes, if you have your interests marked in your profile, using the Stumble button can be a great way to find new pages / sites that you may not have discovered otherwise.

  • Kristi Hines

    In general, you don’t want to stumble a sales page (unless it has an incredible design or something unique other than the sales aspect and you are stumbling it for that purpose). The things that get the best response on SU are great blog posts, photos, and videos. If you can incorporate that kind of content on your commercial site, through a blog, it might be able to make the SU mark!

  • Kristi Hines

    Thanks Mike! StumbleUpon does have a lot of benefits, especially when someone new discovers your content. This guide just covers the parts of StumbleUpon that a user can control – the rest of the benefits are up to the SU user community, but can be surprisingly exciting!

  • Kristi Hines

    You know, the shortener can be quite powerful – that’s one area of StumbleUpon I haven’t gotten into using yet, but I know I should! :)

  • Kristi Hines

    I think that if you build a good following, it can prove to be quite the community. I have seen just ordinary, everyday posts get a surprise boost from the SU community and end up with 52K views in one day. Needless to say, you can hit the jackpot and get some major traffic!

  • Kristi Hines

    Depending on how long you’ve been gone, they’ve made quite a few changes that have been for the better. I hope you enjoy your return to the site!

  • Gabriele Maidecchi

    Very nice article, I believe SU is often underestimated but it can potentially mean a lot of traffic to your own content if you use it right. I always Stumble posts I comment on, and not just my own ones, and add as friends people Stumbling the content I am interested in.

  • steveborgman

    Kristi, have you written any similar articles regarding Digg? I have had a much more positive response with StumbleUpon than with Digg, but am always open to new ways of utilizing the site.

  • akarra

    Thank you for this! I’ve enjoyed SU for a long time, met a lot of great people there, and it would be wonderful if more people used it. It’s an awesome community.

  • Christie

    Glad you wrote this article! I’d been wondering about Following and Followers and if there was some automatic way I should be keeping up with new followers, etc. I need to go back and fix up my profile, that’s for sure! :)

  • Andy

    I’ve advertised with StumbleUpon which didn’t work out so well for me. It was excellent for stumbleupon . . . :)

    Isn’t it against the rules to stumble one’s one blog or website? If so, how does one actually get a post there in the first place? I guess the easy thing would be to have a buddy stumble a post, and vice versa., but that seems sort of tacky and sleazy.

  • The Franchise King

    Nice job, Kristi. hey!

    Didn’t I meet YOU on StumbleUpon?


  • John Soares

    Wow! 52K — stats always get my attention.

  • XD Web Solutions

    When I first started using SU, it was for personal reasons. There were plenty of funny posts, pictures and videos I came across and thoroughly enjoyed :-) But now that I’m using social media more for business purposes, I’m “relearning” and rethinking strategies so need to get back to it and clean up my profile. I knew there was power to SU but hadn’t had the chance to really delve into it and figure out yet how it might work for me. Thanks for putting this comprehensive guide together Kristi! I’ll be sharing this on my site as well.

  • Kristi Hines

    Yes! Just a few months ago, I did a comprehensive guide for Digg. Enjoy! :)

  • Kristi Hines

    That’s the way to do it… the more stumbles you do, the more “influential” in the community you will become.

  • Kristi Hines

    I agree!

  • Kristi Hines

    Yeah, there is no automation anymore. If you want to follow all of your subscribers back, you really have to keep an eye on your followers and spot the new ones, unless they message you. That’s why it’s so important to send a message when you do follow someone – they may want to follow you, but just not know yet.

  • Kristi Hines

    One of the great things about the SU community and social network is that you will eventually start to connect with your SU friends outside of the site itself. So when you tweet your latest post, someone who recognizes you from their friends list will go ahead and stumble it for you, thus making it available to share!

  • Kristi Hines

    On StumbleUpon or a forum, but yes, it’s great connecting with you there!

  • Gabriele Maidecchi

    Ah I definitely am doing it right then 😉

  • Kristi Hines

    Thanks Kesha! Yes, SU can be a powerful traffic generator and community builder for your business’ blog content. :)

  • Garrett Ira

    When I first discovered Stumbleupon, it was probably the biggest “time suck” I had discovered. I realize now that it can be a great tool for many of the same reasons as Facebook and Twitter, and an effective way to consume useful, relevant content.

    Like all of the social media sites, it needs to be used intentionally if used for business. Just about everything can be turned into a time-waster :)

    Thanks for the post.

  • jilliansmitty

    great and extensive guide! I’m torn as to how valuable SU is. I don’t know how much one can promote one’s own page outside of advertising.

    any commenters got suggestions?

  • Sharadkandoi17

    Stumble upon is a great tool to get the best of the net and the article was lovely
    gave a few insights on the imp of stumbleupon
    thanks a lot…

  • Kristi Hines

    I agree… every social media site can lead to some loss of productivity. That’s why it’s important to have a clear goal / plan for using each network, and sticking to it. :)

  • Kristi Hines

    If you want your own site promoted by the SU community, it comes down to creating amazing content (people are most likely to stumble list posts, photos, videos, infographics, etc.) and building a community with other SU users. When you submit and like content from others, many will, in turn, do the same for you!

  • Kristi Hines

    It got mine too! Totally random post, but it made a splash on SU!

  • tpiro

    Wow, that’s a nice, well-explained post about stumbleupon. And thanks for using my comic as an example. If anyone wants to see more, they can check my comics out here

  • Rahul @ MazaKaro

    i have never heard about this , but you know what , it looks very interesting and i will be checking and taking a look at it now , thank you for the post cause i can say i know about it a lot now ;:)

  • Ciaoenrico

    Thanks for that – I agree with the others, StumbleUpon’s power is largely ignored. Its greatest advantage is it’s fun to use – cruising through random pages can kill a lot of time. But then, that’s why you see the large bounce rate: People using it are screaming through pages, so even something that’s moderately interesting to them may not survive their curiosity about what other pages are around the corner.The key to holding people on StumbleUpon is sharing pages that at a glance pull them in. Flash apps and infographics are great for this.

  • Kristi Hines

    Thanks for sharing it with me… always entertaining comics, and you’re a great example of sharing items with comments! :)

  • Kristi Hines

    Infographics definitely grab people’s attention – they are the hot thing!

    The bounce rate from SU is definitely an issue, which is why I always suggest people monitor which networks are working for them via Analytics. For sites looking for a higher quantity of hits to lure in advertisers, it’s not such a big deal, but for those looking for traffic that sticks around, it might be worth analyzing to see if SU is achieving your goals.

    Of course, if you have built a strong community on SU, sharing there is like sharing on Twitter or any other network. I find, with my community, that my comments and tweets increase dramatically when I share, so that makes it worth it for me!

  • Kristi Hines

    You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy trying it out!

  • Brosix

    great graphics and an overall great guide! I think stumbleupon is vastly underused.

  • Debbie

    Wow. What a wealth of information about SU and great follow up comments from all. So – SU, Digg, and Delicious are all similar. Right? They all basically do the same thing so for a newbie like myself, how do I know which is best to use? Seems redundant to use them all or – is my thinking skewed?

  • Gracie Wieber

    Now, I get it!
    Thanks for demystifying Stumbleupon for me.

  • Nat Bourre

    Thanks for posting this. I signed up on Stumble Upon a couple of years ago but never really used it. But lately, I am noticing that trafic to my blog and to my clients’ sites are coming from Stumble Upon. Your article has inspired me to take action and start using Stumble Upon.

  • Kristen

    YIKES- was my first impression. ANOTHER social media site to allocate our resources towards. This was one I personally had not yet paid much attention to or rather have not yet had the chance to master. This article is beyond impressive, but something I will need to pass to many other colleagues! Kristi I have you to personally thank for getting me onto SU. And yes, the 52K is definitely something not to overlook. Kristen SonsmaChief Business Development OfficerB. Square Clothing

  • Sarah Arrow

    Hi Kristi
    Thanks for the in depth explanation. I use Stumbleupon every day but half the features I never understood until now :)
    Out of all the social bookmarking sites, this is one of my faves :)

  • Andy @ FirstFound

    Well, I’ve been doing it wrong. Cheers Kristi, this’ll be a great help.

  • Kristi Hines

    It depends on your goals. I wrote a post about Delicious and Digg recently.As far as Delicious goes, I use it as a personal organizing system for all of the information I want to reference online. Digg can be a great traffic generator IF you have a strong following (but you can’t really share with them directly – they just have to be on and following your submissions) or IF (even bigger if) you make it to the homepage, something that is becoming increasingly harder to do with the new version. With StumbleUpon, you can share your content directly with your followers via the toolbar, which means there is a higher likelihood of them seeing it compared to Digg.

  • Kristi Hines

    Yes, on the weeks I share my posts on that network, SU brings in more traffic than Twitter and Facebook. It can be quite powerful!

  • Kristi Hines

    I know what you mean… it’s easier to consider dedicating time to a proven source of traffic from a network that has been around for awhile than a new network with no guarantees. SU has worked for a lot of people though, and has some great results when used properly.

  • Kristi Hines

    I do like the community aspect of SU over most of the other social bookmarking networks. Glad this article helped!

  • Soo Tang Yuk

    Great article Kristi! My account has been sitting untouched for a couple of months, but this article definitely rekindles my interest!

  • Kristi Hines

    I’m glad it does. I’m kikolani on SU if you want to connect! :)

  • Kristi Hines

    I feel like I answered this one, but it must not have posted.

    I look at Delicious as more for personal use for organizing content found on the web. Digg is great IF you can get on the homepage, but that seems to be more and more of a challenge since the big change. You can do well if you have a lot of followers, but you can’t share your new submissions with your followers on Digg itself.

    SU gives you the ability to share your content with your followers directly in hopes that it will get a lot of votes and reviews, resulting in traffic. Also, a perk about SU is sometimes, it only takes one vote on stumble for it to go viral on their network, and Digg of course, requires a lot.

    I hope that helps!

  • Billy Bucks

    Well I have used stumble upon time and time again, and I must admit I do get some okay traffic from it, but as far as social networks go, its the most anti-social social bookmarking site I have found online.I have just a couple days ago started a new account for my latest websites and blogs. I closed all my other accounts. I used the facebook connection app and the gmail connection app to add over 100 people to my friends list. I bookmark some of their stuff. I use the toolbar OFTEN and bookmark tons. I have never had more then 10 people return my friendship on any account and currently none have returned my friendship on my new account. Over 100 friends add, 0 returned. I have never made new friend connections from stumbling other peoples things, basically it seems like everyone who uses stumbleupon wants their own free traffic and cares little for the social aspect of things. It reminds me of a giant free for all surf exchange.So in my opinion, setting up ones stumble profile, using the friend adding techniques, and pretty much everything else suggested in this article, is a sad waste of time. Truthfully there is a reason it was once in the top 10 for bookmarking sites, now its just there because people want extra traffic, no real social value.

  • silktide

    Great post Kristi, I’ve always been skeptical of Stumbleupon because you have to download the toolbar, but this has made me try it again

  • Denisse Marie

    Glad I found this. I didn’t even know there were groups! I have a StumbleUpon profile but have not put as much effort into it as I should. This post helped me realize I need to focus on it more.


  • Geo Strother

    Great and extensive guide! Your article has inspired me to take action and start using Stumble Upon. I have always seen the logo but never really knew what it was about. Your breakdown of the differences between Digg and SU was kinda what I needed. Thanks for you insight.

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  • Business Marketing Services

    Thanks, this was a great article. I’ve been using Stumbleupon just for indexing content on my site, but after reading this I realize I could be doing a lot more. I was totally oblivious to the advertising option. You’ve made me re-think my Stumbleupon strategy, thanks!

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  • Meredith Rabil

    this is exactly the kind of post I’ve been looking for about StumbleUpon. I have recently joined, but have not had much success in using in to the best of my ability. You highlighted some great points and mentioned useful tips. Thanks so much!

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  • Brent Pittman

    Just starting with SU and hope to find some good articles and also get more traffic. Any changes since this was posted last year?

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  • Marvs

    I recently started using StumbleUpon and this article gave me a good perspective on what to do with it.

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  • Cristichivu87

    Follow me on StumbleUpon and i will follow you too !

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  • Mehmood Naqash

    i appreciate you on your efforts for social marketing purpose plz carry on .

  • Raz Moodie

    I’ve used StumbleUpon for awhile now and have always enjoyed it… until the last few updates!

    It seems I’m getting more and more repeat sites, which I’ve seen numerous times before. It’s surprising that, even after updating my topics, out of the millions and millions of websites out there… I’m still getting these same ones!

    Guess I’ll have to stay off for awhile and hope that I start getting new sites!

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  • Beth Anne

    I know this is old but I cannot figure out one part of SU. What is the difference between liking pages and clicking stumble and adding pages? No one seems to be able to tell me this.

  • Avinash Kumar

    Hey, Kikolani! found this article while searching for stumbleupon and I will say it is very detailed and brilliant. Really great content. I just would like to point one thing, I think the stumbleupon group feature has been removed or it is with a different name! would you suggest??

  • Robin Ahluwalia

    i like it keep updating us with new things but tell me how use it to share post on StumbleUpon elaborate it

  • alittlemisspudgy

    how do you connect with other bloggers I am new to this site.

  • Agnieszka Boeske

    Hey! What I don’t understand – how is it possible to go viral on Stumble Upon? I should ask some people to save my page and hope they will like it?