By: Brian Scott, aka @TheFarmersLife
I’m still pretty new to this agvocate blogging thing. I’ve had The Farmer’s Life up and running for just under a year now. So I’m not an expert by any means, but what I have done is this. I’ve spent a good deal of time learning not just how to tell the story of my farm and agriculture in general, but searching for ways to get my posts to reach out beyond the choir as we like to say.
One thing that has been working for me is StumbleUpon. What is that you say? It’s a social network all about sharing web pages that you like. When you sign up for StumbleUpon you can choose topics that are of interest to you. One of the topics I stumble most is Agriculture. Surprise. While signed in (or using a browser add on like I do) you can hit the Stumble button to be randomly taken to another site under the topic you are interested in. The pages that come up are those that have been submitted by other Stumblers. You too can add pages, but it seems it’s bad manners to add your own content. While stumbling you can also thumb up or thumb down each page and leave a comment for other users to see. You can also share your findings to other social media platforms. So it’s basically a way to sit and browse the internet sort of randomly hoping something of interest comes up. Now might be a good time for me to mention while browsing Agriculture on StumbleUpon I don’t come across a lot of sites about, for lack of a better word, mainstream agriculture. Many of the sites I’ve seen are about urban ag, small farms, organic, and the like. Don’t take that the wrong way. I’m not putting those practices down. These aren’t bad things, I’m just saying the type of farming I do doesn’t seem to be well represented. Just an observation.
So those are the basics of stumbling, but that doesn’t really tell you anything about how it drives blog traffic. Right at the end of 2011 I discovered StumbleUpon had its own URL shortening service su.pr. You twitter users out there probably see shortened links all the time, and there are lots of shorteners out there. I had been using bit.ly until recently. When you login with su.pr you will see some interesting stats about each of your links. It even suggests the time of day you might want to share your links to get the most visibility.
Now I shorten the links to my blog posts with su.pr and use those short links whenever I share my blog posts on twitter, Facebook and anywhere else I can. So far they don’t really work on Google+. They will link to the right place, but the preview you see in your status update won’t show a picture and maybe not even a text preview of the post. Either way it’s not pretty. So when on G+ I just use the full link.
When I share my links using the shortened su.pr version my blog traffic really takes off. At first I had no idea why this was happening. I wasn’t making the connection as to why one URL shortener would be better than another. I’m a farmer, not a social media guru. I wondered that aloud during a #Blogchat session and I got a reply from StumbleUpon. Apparently when you shorten a link with them it is automatically added to their list of pages. You just aren’t going through the process of thumbs up or down and adding tags, etc.
From what I’ve read, when another Stumbler adds your post to StumbleUpon that’s when things can really go viral. Much like you would see with Facebook sharing. It’s also a very powerful too. Some are saying it drives up to 50% of all referral traffic on top sites. More traffic than Facebook. That’s powerful stuff my friends.
Here’s the bottom line based on my experience. I know sharing these shortened links via su.pr is driving more traffic to my posts. My stats show that. I used to put up a post and hope to get a comment or two, and many times I would get none. Since I’ve been doing this I get multiple comments on each new post. My post this past Thursday had 844 hits that day. On Friday it had another 334! And that’s just for that post and not anything else people are finding. Granted that post was on a bit of hot topic, but it’s bringing traffic to posts specifically about my farm as well just because more people are on my blog looking around.
One thing I’m really happy about is that I’m being notified almost daily that I have a new email subscriber to my site that will get an email every time I have a new post. I’ve added some other agvocates posts to StumbleUpon and contacted them about it and asked if they could let me know if it made a difference. They said it was having a positive effect on their stats too.
Twitter was my number one driver of traffic for several months. Now twitter is down the list under either Facebook or StumbleUpon at the top spot with search engine traffic coming in second.
My advice to all you blogging agvocates is to start sharing your links this way and see how it works for you. It’s certainly working for me. And don’t forget to make it easy for your readers who might be Stumblers to add your posts. Put a StumbleUpon button on each of your posts.