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Has StumbleUpon Jumped the Shark?

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Social Media

StumbleUpon LogoSniff, I remember feeling so emotional to meet such amazing StumbleUpon friends. Now I haven’t been there for pleasure, networking or day-to-day communication in months.

My friends all seem to hang out on Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter now. Did eBay, proud owner of SU, bet 75 million on a dying shark with their May 2007 purchase?

Sure-our office maintains StumbleUpon profiles which  can send prodigal amounts of semi-empty traffic characterized by suspicious bounce rates. SU’s still terrific for finding content by socially advised search for Buzz Pocket Mining.

Still as the world explodes into mainstream social media participation, StumbleUpon’s performance, regardless of advertised membership count (6,938,202), appears to be flat or reduced  by publicly available estimates of  traffic & engagement.

Left Behind In The Revolution?
While practically everyone seems to be busy wiring their entire community into Facebook, most people we meet literally have never heard of StumbleUpon. Even the relatively modest professional networking service LinkedIn, pretty well buries SU.

Here are some screen captures, going from bad to worse, which might illustrate SUs estimated metric atrophy and decline.

Hot Trends is Google’s free tool to reflect what people are searching for on Google over a time continuum. In a society enthralled with social media, search interest surrounding SU is at best, not growing much.

Here’s a look at search volume surrounding  StumbleUpon:

trends-su


Now compare America’s search interest for  SU to Facebook:
(SU does not even exist next to Facebook in terms of search volume.)
trends-su-facebook


LinkedIn is on searchers’ minds much more than SU these days:
trends-su-linkeding


Compete
triangulates  multiple data sources, including ISP, Panel & Toolbar to estimate U.S. traffic and engagement.

Traffic-wise, SU and Facebook are going in very different directions:
compete-su-facebook-traffic

The comparison is not pretty in  terms of engagement either, as estimated  by pages per visit:
compete-su-facebook-ppv

Even compared to LinkedIn, SU is busy shark jumping:
compete-su-linkedin-traffic

Sorry StumbeUpon
Facebook is where most folks we know hang out. Twitter is CNN-mainstream feed-fuel lightning, generating millions of motivated micro-blogged bytes.  LinkedIn is a proud, steady and growing property. It’s a brave new socially wired world baby…

Did eBay (owners of SU) bet on the wrong colored troll-laced horse-StumbleUpon? Perhaps… At the end of the day, SU just might be what happens when a promising social site a) let’s trolls abuse users b) doesn’t build an API c) thinks they’re “all that.”

Thanks to my Twitter-friend @brianchappell for inspiring this post with his tweet earlier this month. Please follow me on Twitter @aimclear.

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9 Comments

  1. Promote My Site on January 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    There’s an easy explanation. Facebook and LinkedIn are seeing a lot of traffic because people are worried about the economy and these sites are good places to connect with friends that might be able to get you a job. Stumble, Digg, etc are about the content and the relationships aren’t what people go to those sites for.

  2. Michael Martinez on January 29, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve seen a decline in StumbleUpon referrals mirrored by a rise in Twitter referrals but I the economy may be part of the equation.

    Twitter is like a small beer bottle. People think it won’t hurt them as much to have just one more, so they are gradually spending more time tweeting and twittering by doing just a little bit here and there.

    You can use Twitter from your cell phone. StumbleUpon doesn’t seem to be quite so phone friendly.

    There are probably several “Perfect Storm” factors converging on StumbleUpon right now.

  3. Marty Weintraub on January 29, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    @Michael Martinez: “Perfect storm” alright. eBay better start selling used cell phones, private islands, underwear and trinkets on SU now while the goings are still hot.

  4. Elizabeth Able on January 31, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I’m pasting & elaborating on in my SU review of this post, because , well, y’all aren’t talking there and I want it seen. LOL.

    I suspect that many marketers jumped ship on SU after finding that SU traffic was harder and harder to come by. If one of the big draws of a social network is traffic, marketers will follow the traffic.

    There’s also SU’s bad to nonexistent self-patrolling where predatory and sometimes libelous thumbs-downers are concerned — some people were banned who shouldn’t have been, and some who love to smear others remain untouched. I pulled back for a while because of that, but that’s not the sort of thing that will change what I do re SU in the long term – SU’s self-care will have more of an effect than individual users.

    I’m not convinced SU has “jumped the shark” completely. I will cast a vote, wholeheartedly, for the idea that it’s got growing pains – and what online thing doesn’t. Hell, 90% of what I do every day hasn’t been around longer than a gradeschool kid.

    p.s. Add some flag-waving from me about a SU API. There is a LOT of tagged, user-rated content out there, just waiting for SU to API it and then *hint* create a real (useful for users and marketers) advertising model to go with it.

  5. Marty Weintraub on January 31, 2009 at 1:36 am

    @Elizabeth Able: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I thought it was interesting that no marketers at ALL bookmarked this post in SU. I suppose for those who still maintain profiles that are “personal,” bookmarking this post would be the troll kiss of death.

    “There’s also SU’s bad to nonexistent self-patrolling where predatory and sometimes libelous thumbs-downers are concerned — some people were banned who shouldn’t have been, and some who love to smear others remain untouched.”

    Right, exactly.

  6. Programmer Helper on February 3, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Twitter is like a small beer bottle. People think it won’t hurt them as much to have just one more, so they are gradually spending more time tweeting and twittering by doing just a little bit here and there.

    You can use Twitter from your cell phone. StumbleUpon doesn’t seem to be quite so phone friendly.

  7. david on February 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    i would have to say i love stumbleupon, its sometimes painful but it doesnt seem to have the annoying failing to remember to read the cookies problem, that many of the other media sites such as Digg….

    from my website traffic point, im yet to meet a media site that actually drives as much quality traffic for niche areas, their users are always more engaged and well spend more time on the site.

  8. Ricky C on February 10, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Actually Stumble Upon wasn’t that familiar comparing to Twitter and Facebook. The reason for this is because not so many people knowing about social bookmarking sites and if they did know, they don know what the use for.

    - My 2 Cents

  9. Jimmy Tsu on February 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    This is not really a like for like comparison, what SU does well is drive large amounts of traffic to a site with no guarantee that any secondary action will come of it. You want people to see your site then that’s what it does. Linkedin is surging due to the fact that many of us do not have jobs right now. Twitter is hot because its ability to allow you to vent, proclaim, shout out and generally enjoy a Facebook lite “Jimmy is” experience. SU is unique and their problem is that they do not market to potential users, rather allowing themselves to be discovered. They rely on a stumble to drives stumbles.

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