StumbleUpon: the ignored social network

BMcNulty_100x139At the beginning of this year my sister and I noticed a gap in the online market and started working to fill it, by creating a custom-made online novel-writing programme for people who really want to write a novel, but don’t know how to start it.

We launched Now Novel in July, and we’re on the way to understanding how to create the right product for our users.

One of the challenges of working in a small organisation is the lack of budget to spend on marketing. I’ve been used to large corporate budgets but having to fend for yourself makes you more creative in your advertising methods. I tested Google Adwords and Facebook, but they were both pretty expensive for acquiring users. Someone suggested StumbleUpon and I gave it a go. It’s a pretty simple process: choose the webpage URL you want to promote, choose your targeting (demographic, geography and interest group) and pay $0.10 per view (this is way cheaper than the average Facebook click of R7 in South Africa).

The scale of StumbleUpon in South Africa is much bigger than I expected: there are 2 million people in South Africa interested in pets, 1 million interested in clothes, 1.3 million interested in cooking and 3 million interested in humour. If you’re selling dogfood, that means 2 million potential customers available for a cheap rate. It is not as easy as having a page that you put up there (StumbleUpon has to approve your page), so ensure that it has some benefit for people “stumbling upon” it (i.e. that it has some novelty).

The other exciting thing about StumbleUpon is that it has an element of virality that other platforms don’t have.  If your content is enjoyed by the audience, they will virally send it out to your audience. Our homepage ( managed to get 14,000 free stumbles over the period of a week. It managed to take down our servers and slow things down, but the opportunity to get free traffic is great.

Originally published on the MWEB site.

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  1. My experience with Stumbleupon is limited but I have had some pages on sites I manage being ‘Stumbled’ leading to a massive increase (like tenfold) in users for a day or so. It doesn’t, however, appear to be sustainable. Is there much use in these quick burst of users?

  2. it doesn’t last, but that gives you an opportunity to try and convert them to your site (e.g. get an email address so that you can start and manage a relationship with them)

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