Tips for federal agencies to get the most out of StumbleUpon

Advice to federal Web managers: If you want to boost traffic to your websites, take advantage of new tools growing in popularity that randomly deliver your content to users.

Social media “discovery engines” such as StumbleUpon present new ways for users to discover new and interesting content. Unlike search engines, which find specific content, discovery engines find potentially interesting sites based what they know you like. StumbleUpon is a prime example.

The General Services Administration recently created a StumbleUpon channel for to distribute federal content on StumbleUpon and to gain referral traffic to federal websites. The GSA also negotiated terms of service for StumbleUpon that are available to other federal agencies.

Making effective use of StumbleUpon requires an entirely new strategy in comparison to traditional search engines, according to Jack Krawczyk, senior product marketing manager for StumbleUpon, who spoke at a webinar sponsored by the GSA and Federal Web Managers Council on Feb. 28.

Forget about search engine optimization and keywords. Those are effective for search engines such as Google and Bing but not for StumbleUpon, Krawczyk said.

“What works for search does not work for discovery,” Krawczyk said.

To get the most out of StumbleUpon, Krawczyk advised setting up a channel on the site.

Content published on the channel becomes part of the StumbleUpon ecosystem and can be randomly delivered to users when they press the “Stumble” button on the site, assuming the content fits their categories of interest such as travel-related or health-related information. The average user presses the stumbling button 300 times a month.

One of the keys to success is to make your content easy to share, Krawczyk said. He suggests adding a “StumbleUpon” share button on websites so that the content can be easily circulated within StumbleUpon.

A second tip is that federal agencies should not share their main portals and agency home pages, which typically have too many links and are confusing to the average users of StumbleUpon. The users much prefer to see robust content directly on a stand-alone basis, rather than being taken to a landing page from which they have to navigate, Krawczyk said.

“Do not drive traffic to your home page,” Krawczyk said. “It will inundate the person and turn them off.”

Also, do not direct users to sites where they will be asked immediately to fill out a form or survey, answer a questionnaire, or perform some other tasks. “You need to avoid a quick call to action,” he said.

Another tip was to avoid “distracting text and graphics” on your website, which might appear to be a cheap and crude way to attract users to a site.

“People can see through it,” Krawczyk said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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