StumbleUpon v. Reddit

I’m looking at StumbleUpon and Reddit as key networks to expand into over the next year. The reason for that is simple: if you’re looking to bring visitors to a website as efficiently as possible, building a viable presence on one or both of those networks is probably a good move. The problem: They require a lot of engagement, and they step on sharing one’s own stuff pretty hard.

This means figuring out how much time you can get by with spending on them and knowing how often to put your own links out there are tricky. I have no idea how either of those networks decide what counts as “affiliation,” and I publish at and promote several blogs I do not own. I don’t want to be demoted before I even get started, and I don’t have a lot of time. So I’m proceeding slowly and cautiously.

But I have been experimenting. I have a StumbleUpon account I don’t use very often and no Reddit account at all. We’ve seen some success with both over the last couple of weeks. I’ll share a few numbers with you today and then explain the differences between these two networks as I understand them.

This spike happened here the weekend of Aug 10. I’ve included the mouseover info for the peak day. This is a good four-day spike from Reddit. It started on Sunday and trailed off on Wednesday. We still got a little from it on Thursday, and continued getting odd views last week.

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Most of this traffic went to a Tolkien post and a Batman post that were shared on various subreddits by a friend of mine who is not affiliated with the blog on Sunday, Aug. 9. The Tolkien was shared early and the Batman was shared late. The Batman post generated about 100 views, and they came in over a shorter period of time than the views on the Tolkien post, which brought us visitors for days. I’m assuming the difference is explained by the relative sizes and activity levels of the subrreddits where the posts were shared.

Overall, we received around 240 documented referrals from Reddit from this. That’s two or three days’ worth of traffic for us, depending on time of week and how we’re set for content. So, totally worth the minimal amount of time it took to drop those links.

Just to put those 240 views over a 4-day period into perspective for you. In the last 30 days we’ve received 195 views from the WordPress Reader, 115 from Facebook, and 75 from Twitter. And we’ve only gotten a little over 1,000 from search engines.

As I was putting this post together Friday evening, this happened. These are stats from Part Time Monster. The Friday/Saturday spike represents almost 800 views. A few came from StumbleUpon, but most came from Reddit. The info in the mouseover is for Saturday, which turned into Diana’s best day ever.

PTM spike 15-08-23

This one was a surprise. Diana’s Girls and Gaming post was shared spontaneously on Reddit by a blogger who as far as I know, we’ve never talked to. That post received more than 307 views on Friday and we recorded 168 Reddit referrals that day. I stumbled the post around midnight and it got another 53 views from StumbleUpon between midnight and 2 am on Saturday morning.

The StumbleUpon traffic trailed off, but PTM received another 179 Reddit referrals, and by the end of the day on Saturday, the gaming post had been viewed another 298 times. Out of the total of 780 views at the Monster on these two days, 605 were on the gaming post. We’re sure that 400 of those came from Reddit and StumbleUpon.

Again, just so you have some frame of reference. In the last 30 days, PTM has received 204 views from the reader, 57 from Facebook, 57 from Twitter and 604 from search engines. It’s also worth noting that Part Time Monster’s previous best day was a 400-view day in mid-March, and 85 of those views came from StumbleUpon. Our best day here at Sourcerer is 391 views, and 81 of those came from StumbleUpon. In fact, every time we’ve set a new best-ever record in the last 18 months at either of these blogs, StumbleUpon has been involved.

This is real progress for us for a couple of reasons. We’ve seen handfuls of referrals from Reddit before, but never anything like this, and these numbers are comparable to all the StumbleUpon spikes I’ve ever seen aside from the two or three very best. The 50 views I got for Part Time Monster from StumbleUpon is also the first time I, personally, have had a successful stumble. Up to this point, it’s always been other people stumbling our posts that got the views.

So which is better, Reddit or StumbleUpon? That depends on how you like to play on the internet, and on what you’re looking to get out of it.

Reddit is basically a huge forum with sub-forums (called subreddits) for just about every topic you can think of. People chat and share links related to specific topics. Reddit users can vote things up or down. Enough up votes will land a link on Reddit’s front page. Enough down votes can disappear a link entirely from Reddit.

StumbleUpon is a network for sharing and curating links. Users follow topics (called “Interests”) and can follow up to 100 other Stumblers. StumbleUpon sends content from your interests and from the people you follow into your feed, and you can like/dislike things. StumbleUpon saves all your likes and allows you to build lists of things you like. You can also share pages to StumbleUpon and categorize them for other users to find.

Reddit strikes me as easier to use — I find the StumbleUpon interface difficult. Reddit is also probably a more predictable source of traffic if you can learn to share there effectively, but StumbleUpon probably has higher traffic potential. (I’m saying “probably” here because I’m not well-versed enough to be sure). StumbleUpon was one of our top five referrers here in 2014 and brought us almost as many views from two or three lucky stumbles as Facebook did from every link we shared there.

The value of both to bloggers is simple. If you generate enough views on a single post in a short period of time, that helps the post get into Google searches. I’d say 80 percent of the the search traffic we get here is from people finding posts that were put into those searches originally by StumbleUpon.

I plan to eventually use both of these networks, but I am starting with StumbleUpon because I have more friends who use it than use Reddit, and because I already have a StumbleUpon account set up.

What about you? Do you use either of these networks, and do you have any advice for us newbies?

Happy Monday!

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We’re in for the Blogging A to Z April Challenge!

I started talking with friends and contributors about doing this year’s A to Z Challenge here back in the fall. We finalized the last few letters over the weekend and I stepped into the ring for us on Monday. We were the 96th blog to register, but we’d moved up to #94 when last I looked.

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

Click to Register!

The A to Z blog suggested last week that bloggers use their announcements to offer advice to folks who are doing the challenge for the first time. Last year was my first year, so my wisdom is limited. But I almost did not make it through, and I know why. Here are three things I did and did not do last year before April 1 that almost cost me the survivor badge.

  1. Did not get all the posts written. I planned to do them over Spring Break, but I had an awful March and couldn’t find the time. Not waiting until the last minute this year.
  2. Did not schedule the posts (because they weren’t written). If you can’t get the whole month’s worth written in advance and scheduled, at least have the first 14 ready to go and that leaves you 13 to write during the first three weeks of the challenge.
  3. Built a page to curate links to the blogs I visited. This seemed like a good idea, and I enjoyed it. But it added more work to an already intense month of blogging, and it is not required. I won’t be doing it this year.

    My personal survivor badge.

    My personal survivor badge.

Now a couple of things that didn’t necessarily put the challenge in jeopardy, but kept me from getting as much out of it as I could have.

  1. I revealed my theme too early and published my reflection too late, so I missed the opportunity to link those up with other A to Z bloggers.
  2. I did not discover until well into the challenge that I could get art for every day from the A to Z blog and eliminate the need to go scouring the Internet for shareable images. This cost me a lot of time in putting the posts together.

And a little free advice about the A to Z posts themselves.

A to Z is not just a posting challenge. It is a social event too. Its value is in its potential for discovery. So it’s important to play honest with the visits and to comment when you do. Otherwise, the bloggers you’re visiting aren’t going to know you were there nor have a comment link that they can follow and find you.

With this in mind, be sensitive to the fact that the primary audience you are writing for, aside from your regular readers, is A to Z bloggers who are also trying to post every day and visit/comment on five blogs. No matter what other characteristics your target audience might have, your A to Z visitors will have two things in common.

  • Most will be first-time visitors, and
  • they will all be extremely busy.
Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Just a photo of me to break up all this text.

Posts should be short, catchy, and not include more than a couple of links. 350-500 words is the most A to Z readers are going to have time for, and lots of them going to scan that. The next day, they’re on to another five blogs. If you want them to come back again on a Sunday during the challenge, or try out your blog again in May, best be memorable and not ask too much.

It’s also important to answer your comments and visit some of your commenters. You will get comments. Just from my own experience with blogging over the last year, answering a first comment makes it much more likely that a reader is going to come back. This is another reason to get the post written early and not add any extra work for yourself beyond the bare requirements. Being active on your own threads is essential if you want to benefit from the challenge beyond April.

Most bloggers neither post every day nor visit five blogs per day. Many of your visitors will be doing the challenge just to see if they can. A lot will be hoping to find new readers and make friends. It’s hard to make friends through a blog if you don’t comment, and it’s best to do straightforward, ultra-reader-friendly posts for this.

Here is a list of the bloggers you’ll see here during April if all goes well between now and then. Links go to their blogs and their byline archives. For the sake of convenience, I’ve organized the list by author in order of first appearance. Here’s the alphabetical version with posting dates. Topics will be published on reveal day. (Contributors, if I have double-booked or crossed up any days here, just let me know and we’ll iron it out.)

David and Holly of Comparative Geeks— A, F, G, M, Q, U

Jeremy DeFatta — B, K, S

Gene’O of Just Gene’O — C, E, L, T

William Hohmeister — D

Diana of Part Time Monster — H, P, Z

Luther M. Siler of Infinite Free Time — I, R, W

Hannah Givens of Things Matter — J

Melissa Barker-Simpson (her blog is eponymous) — N

Rebecca Bradley of Rebecca Bradley Crime — O

Natacha Guyot of Science Fiction, Transmedia, and Fandom — X and Y

A Mystery Blogger — V

Arrr, mateys!

Arrr, mateys!

Thanks to all you contributors, and to our friends who have encouraged us as we worked to get this done. I’ll have communciation for you about loading drafts in the next week or two.

I’m following A to Z on both Twitter and Facebook, so if we’re connected on the other social media, you’ll be seeing a lot of A-to-Z sharing from me once we get into March. If you are a friend or reader here and you decide to take the plunge, you want to drop me a line so I can add you to lists and such.

Several of our friends are also registered already. I’ll have links to some of them in my announcement at Just Gene’O in the next week or so.

A Redesign Update

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If you missed the news last week, I’m redesigning the blog. You can find the basic redesign and my notes about it here. I spent all weekend re-categorizing posts so I can use the categories to build menus once I change the theme.

I am down to 120 or so posts to review, so maybe an hour or two of work left on that. The categories are close enough to being finished that you can use the pull-down menu on the sidebar to see what I’m doing with them.

Continue reading

Friendly Blogging: Did I Just Fix Facebook?

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I’m behind on some things because I have been spending lots of time on Facebook this week. I think I’ve figured out how to make that network useful to me as a blogger. I finally see the play after a year of struggling over there. I’ve decided to take the shot.

I’ll wank on the whys and wherefores at Just Gene’O once I have the info to do that. This is the post in which I explain what I am doing and link to a bunch of nice bloggers in case anyone wants to come and play. FBlike

Weeks ago, I started tweaking Facebook so I could have more visibility of the bloggers I talk to often and start liking their stuff.  I started out just fooling around in my spare time, but last weekend I figured some things out and decided to get on it and get it done. Here’s what I did.

  • Used custom lists to tune everyone out except bloggers who interact with me, and blog-friendly people I want to interact with, then started liking and sharing only their posts and nothing else.
  • Screwed my privacy settings down tight, so that anyone who I am sure doesn’t care about blogs or who I have any doubts about for any reason, however small, can’t see what I like, share or comment on.
  • Got myself into a position, through a couple of friends, to eventually be Facebook friends with a few hundred bloggers.

Now I am set up to maintain my timeline as a safe, friendly, no drama zone, to add bloggers as Facebook friends, and to share blog posts and blogging-related updates with them.

pirateflag

My personal standard. A banner for bloggers to flock to. Because it’s a public domain image, and the Internet can always use a little more mischief!!

Here is what I think will happen as I add bloggers to my “plain ol’ friends” list who see what I like and share, and build mutual Facebook friendships with a lot of them. Engagement on my timeline will tick up because I know a lot of good blogs to share. When I comment on what others are sharing, and they comment on what I am sharing, that will put those posts in other bloggers’ feeds. If I am able to get it growing and maintain it without it sucking away too much time, I will eventually have a Facebook network with the ability to drive some serious engagement, and that will be good for us all.

Once I am sure the privacy settings are right, I will spend a little time each week meeting bloggers by following links from Facebook. I will allow some of them to be my Facebook friends, and so they will have a chance of seeing the links I share and building enough trust to get into my circle of close friends.

By this time next year, there will be a lot of us. We will be a merry band. Most of us will also have Twitter accounts, some with thousands of followers, and a few of us will have accounts on other social media like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and Reddit. How does that sound?

Only “Friends of Friends” can send me friend requests on Facebook right now, but I am paying CLOSE attention to who follows me. Once I am ready to proceed, probably in a week or two at most, I will start contacting the Facebook followers I know well enough to be friends with and asking them if they want in.

P.S: Gretchen, Diana, Taylor, Hannah, Natacha, Rose, Luther, Therefore I Geek, Leather Library, Sisters, CompGeeks, Winter Bayne, Winewankers, Sabina: I think I took a level in badass this year! And just an early heads up. It is too early to say anything more, but Melissa and I are talking about cooking something up for the blog next year.

P.P.S: For those of you who follow my social media blogging. “Friendly Blogging” is the catchphrase for 2015. No more “Blog Traffic and Engagement” as the headline meme, though you will still see those terms in the headlines, because they are good for hashtagging. It’s taken from @Sourcererblog’s “FriendlyBloggers” list, which is one of my two most carefully-curated public lists.

P.P.P.S.: Your weekend music will run at Just Gene’O in about an hour.