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Social Media

StumbleUpon: The Not-So-Little Discovery Engine that Could

StumbleUpon turned 10 in November. I forgot to get it a birthday gift, so I'm getting it this blog post instead. Founded in 2001, StumbleUpon has existed longer than the "big three" in social media – Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. In August, StumbleUpon celebrated a milestone: 25 billion clicks. To give you some perspective, if you sat down and starting counting from one to one billion 24 hours a day, 7 days a week nonstop - adding in mathematical adjustments for multisyllabic numbers (like 4,337,646) - it would take you roughly 95 years to finish counting. Counting to 25 billion, on the other hand, would take approximately 2,375 years. So, if the ancient greeks had started counting in 364 B.C., they'd be just finishing up right about now. I'm willing to bet that would be one heck of a game of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

25 billion is a lot.

Today, StumbleUpon averages 1 billion clicks per month.



Fact: StumbleUpon drives over 50% of social media traffic in the United States, making it the top site for traffic referrals to US websites.


2.2 million webpages are added to StumbleUpon every month. That's 51 pages per minute. 8 babies are born in the United States every minute, which means the number of pages being referenced and ranked on StumbleUpon exceeds the population growth by more than 6x.

After 24 hours, a popular shared link will usually get...

ReTweets on Twitter - 0%

Likes on Facebook - 5%

More Stumbles - 83%

Half Life of a Link

The half-life of a link is the point in time at which a link has seen half the engagement it will ever get.

A link shared on Twitter - 2.8 hours

A link shared on Facebook - 3.2 hours

A link shared on StumbleUpon - 400 hours

View Time

Average webpage - 58 seconds

Average StumbleUpon page - 72 seconds

Stumble Session

The average Stumble Session (during which a user views page after page) is 69 minutes. Nearly 3x the amount of time people spent on a singular Facebook session or watching a sitcom (both 23 minutes.)

The Brand Benefits of Stumbling

When you to publish to Facebook or Twitter, you push content to your brand's followers and fans - i.e. the people who already know and like you. Unlike Facebook and Twitter (which are content delivery tools), StumbleUpon is a discovery tool. Its goal is to reach people who are on the hunt for new, interesting information. So what does this mean for you? StumbleUpon is the social director who brings your brand to the party to attract, meet and connect with all sorts of new people interested in the things you do.

Rented vs. Owned

If you have been living under a rock, you may have missed the memo that Facebook is rolling out new and improved Facebook Insight/analytics. They’re doing away with some of the old metrics, and adding some new (presumably helpful) ones. The official transition goes into effect on December 15. As I re-worked a metrics spreadsheet for a client yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of something we often talk about at Brains on Fire. Today seems like the perfect opportunity to pass it on.

The Embassy: Your Home Away from Home

Let’s take a mental vacation for a second. You’re finally taking the trip to Paris you always dreamed of. After a delicious French meal, you return to the hotel room to find your bags have been stolen. No more Euros. No more credit cards. No more passport. After battling the language barrier with a French police officer, you head to the American Embassy for help. Although you’re on foreign soil, as soon as you walk through the door, you’ve found your home away from home.

Embassies are an established presence where interactions, conversations and participation are facilitated by one or more ambassadors.

For this next part, let’s pretend you own a pixie dust store (aptly named The Pixie Dust Store), and your brand site lives at


Let’s talk home turf. Think of as owned real estate. It belongs to you. You have control of the conversation. You decide when to blog or post a photo. You decide how posting a blog of photo will be done. You can change the site design. You make the rules. It’s a space The Pixie Dust Store controls.

Why are owned properties important?

  • Control: Owned properties provide a space for you can lead, prompt and create conversation


Now let’s talk about rented properties. You may not realize it, but if you’re social media savvy, you’re already renting all over the place. Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress and YouTube are all examples of rented properties. You can create “camps” (create accounts/profiles) in these rented properties, but you’re not in control of how they operate. Just like renting a house, if the landlord says you can’t paint the walls or have a dog – that’s how the cookie crumbles. The same thing goes for rented properties online. If Twitter says you have to convey your message in 140 characters, so be it. If Facebook changes their metrics, you don’t have a say in the matter. (You just accept it, rework your metrics spreadsheet and move on...)

Why are rented properties important?

  • Don’t get us wrong. Rented properties are great way to connect. Though you may not have all the control, they provide an opening in the conversation to reach out to people beyond your owned “home turf” and become a part of their existing conversations.

Back to the embassy metaphor!

Both owned and rented properties are valuable. Each one packs a unique set of benefits and challenges.

Your owned property ( is America. It’s your home base. Your motherland.

Think of the footprints you create in rented spaces (like Facebook, Twitter) as your little embassies. Just like the American embassy in France, you may not make the law of the land, but in that little space, you can represent what you stand for. And you can become a welcoming space for others in that rented space to join you.

The Retooling of Retailing: How social networks are changing the consumer/retailer relationship

Here's the thing: I don't like malls. Call me germaphobic (or perhaps I've just seen one too many apocalyptic pandemic films for my own good), but being trapped indoors with a crowd breathing recycled air makes me feel like I'm a hop, skip and a viral cell away from the flu du jour. And while the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers has a certain seasonal charm, watching overstressed, grown adults have public meltdowns and temper tantrums at the register generally puts a ding in my Christmas spirit. Thus I avoid the mall at all costs. Not just during the holidays, but every day. Last weekend, however, compelled by early onset Christmas spirit and a Klout perk Macy's gift card, I found myself circling the lot with the rest of the parking lot sharks. Before I headed in, I checked-in on Four Square, only to discover that Macy's was also offering a "special" (i.e. additional discounts) to anyone checked-in. With very little effort, I had earned myself significant savings - and Macy's planted a little love seed in my heart. As I stood in line waiting to checkout, I began thinking about how technology and social connectivity are not only influencing, but changing, the retail landscape.

I stumbled across this timely article on Monday. The author suggests that "Connectivity has shifted the balance of power to individual shoppers. The traditional ways that retailers and merchants reach out to users and how they expect them to discover, shop and pay are getting disrupted by mobile and social. And that’s forcing companies to react."

The article goes on to explain that almost half of all shoppers are coming to stores armed with smartphones, altering the ways we relate to and interact with retailers. Not only does the technology in our pockets give us instant access to product ratings and reviews, it gives us the ability to shop for a better deal with the click of a button - and decide whether that better deal is worth driving across town for.

The ways in which consumers are learning about products and services are shifting as well. In contrast to the days when people made decisions perusing store shelves and aisles, today we're arming ourselves with information - and so much more - by turning to our social networks. Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square says consumers are learning about products through social connections on Twitter, by following their passions and interests.

When I reflect on several of my own recent purchases, it rings true. After my iPhone shattered, I went on the hunt for an indestructible case by throwing a question out to my Twitter followers. The name "Otterbox" was quickly Tweeted back by many. When I decided to invest in iPhone insurance, my social network (and their glowing recommendations) directed me to a company called SquareTrade. In these instances, my social network wasn't just influential in my purchase, it was integral.

So what does the future of consumer/retailer relationships look like? John Donohoe, CEO of eBay, says he expects more changes in the next three years in commerce than in the last 15.

As to be expected, Word of Mouth will continue to be an increasingly influential force when it comes to decision-making about which companies to support, which products to buy and where and how customers will spend their dollars.

The fact is that with mobile and social, consumers are much more savvy. They are equipped with the latest information and the latest prices whenever and wherever they go shopping. And with social channels, they are swayed by and discover products through their friends, not through ads.

How have you noticed retailers and service providers adapting to the increasing influence of social networks and Word of Mouth?

The Power of Pictures: A Social Scrapbook

There are always two people in every picture:  the photographer and the viewer. | Ansel Adams

I collect antique photographs. Old photos of strangers I have never met and have no familial ties to. I know nothing about their pasts. I don’t know their names or where they grew up. I can’t tell you their favorite foods or where they were born or buried. Despite the abundance of question marks punctuating their lives and stories, however, each photograph offers a doorway to the past; a split-second time warp, capturing a moment I wasn’t there to experience, but somehow feel connected to.

This weekend I watched NYC fireworks sitting atop the roof of a yellow taxicab. I met a pair of superhero dogs, dressed in patriotic superhero dog capes. I took a wild and windy ride on the back of a motorcycle. I cheered when a friend got engaged.

I wasn’t really there for any of it, but somehow I felt a part of it. All thanks to Instagram.

I recently stumbled across a blog post declaring Instagram “The Most Important Social Network I’ve Ever Used.” As a newbie to the iPhone world, it seemed like a grandiose and sweeping statement. Can a wordless social medium really connect people and start a conversation? And what, exactly, is the power of a picture?

In a word: storytelling.

Instagram (and photosharing) not only provide us with new and instantaneous ways to capture and preserve our stories and moments, they offer an outlet to illustrate our stories, too. We are creating social scrapbooks, and each photo has the potential to ignite sentiment, stories and conversation between the photographer and the viewer.

So what do we gain by tapping into our inner instartist? Some people suggest these apps are creativity and conversation catalysts with the power change the way we approach our everyday lives and world.

“Instagram is tapping into a creative yen that I did not know I possessed. I am starting to see the effects rippling through my everyday life. The desire to look for the unusual in the ordinary is beginning to permeate more and more of my thinking. There is a willingness to consider ideas that traditionally would have been way too out of the box for me. The act of looking at things in a different way is leading me think about things in a different way as well.” [full article here]

It's Tuesday. It feels like Monday. Most of us are back to work after a long (and hopefully happy) holiday weekend. We woke up this morning and went through the same routine we do each day of the week. We took the same route to work to return to the same office we inhabit 40+ hours a week. But somewhere along the way, I imagine we all bypassed something beautiful.

Maybe it's time to start seeing our same world differently. Today I'm challenging each of you to look at your day. Don't just look at it - really see it. And when you do, snap a picture and send it to me Let's practice the art of silent storytelling through the power of pictures.

UPDATE: Thanks to all our friends who submitted photos today. Tuesday was a truly beautiful day. We think you'll agree...