Use Social Media Arbitrage to Drive Traffic with StumbleUpon

Everyone knows social media sites like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon can drive massive amounts of traffic to your website. IF you can get on the front page.

The problem is that most submissions drop like an anvil through the new queue without getting more than one or two votes.

I can’t tell you how to become a power user on Digg or Reddit. I’ve had some luck with those sites but no consistent success, and I have a feeling it takes more effort and social networking than most webmasters want to do.

What I will tell you is how I’ve used StumbleUpon to drive nearly 80,000 visitors to this website without dramatically changing my web browsing habits or pestering people to vote for me.

Although StumbleUpon doesn’t create peaks as high as Digg or Reddit, it does offer two significant advantages:

1. Consistency – When you make the front page of Digg or Reddit you get a huge surge of traffic for about a day with some lingering effects the day after. Three days later you wouldn’t know it ever happened (aside from the wonderful incoming links). StumbleUpon continues to drive traffic to your site for days, even weeks, after the initial surge.

2. Pageviews – Digg and Reddit users generally read an article and leave your site immediately, viewing an average of 1.20 pages (according to my stats). The average Stumbler views a significantly higher 1.80 pages. Apparently those curious stumblers read more articles and are more likely to become regular readers.

Social Media Arbitrage

Now that I’ve told you why you should want use StumbleUpon to your advantage, here’s how to do it. The method is relatively simple and I’m sure many others are using it. It stems from two observations:

1. The Social Media Snowball – I noticed that when a post becomes popular on Reddit, it is basically guaranteed to take off on StumbleUpon as well. When a post becomes popular on one social site, it’s odds of doing so on another site dramatically improve.

2. Great Content Gets Around – All the major social sites have unique communities with varying tastes. But that doesn’t stop them from loving the same content. An interesting article is an interesting article. If you can find a post Digg users love, there is a great chance Reddit users will love it too, and vice versa.

These two observations led me to the strategy of Social Media Arbitrage. Arbitrage is defined as, “The purchase of securities on one market for immediate resale on another market in order to profit from a price discrepancy.” For social media, this means going to the popular pages of Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon, and submitting popular stories to other social sites where they haven’t been submitted yet.

It sounds too easy to work and this is partially true. It doesn’t work well for Digg or Reddit because 1) there is too much competition to submit to these sites. Most pages already are already submitted. And 2) the number of incoming submissions is so massive that even great submissions (from average users) are often ignored.

But fortunately, it does work well for StumbleUpon. If you always wanted to become a respected user but had no idea where to find great content to submit, this is the answer.

Becoming a Power Stumbler

I wrote this post because today I became a newly minted Top Stumbler. If you go to the Top Stumbler’s Page (as of 4/17/07) you’ll see my ugly mug, probably on the bottom half of the page (username: pickthebrain). All I did to get there is submit newly popular stories from Digg and Reddit as well every great post I find during casual feed reading. The StumbleUpon toolbar makes this incredibly easy.

To drive traffic, I also Stumble many of my own posts. Without fail, StumbleUpon sends at least a few hundred visitors over the course of the day. My friends with blogs have reported similar results.

Most people view social media as a form of entertainment and not much more. But if you’re already using it, why not expend a bit more effort and use it to drive traffic to your website?

Now that you know how it’s done, get out there and take away my competitive advantage!

Update: Alas, someone has read this post and I’m no longer a Top Stumbler. 🙁


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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