Social Media Traffic Shows StumbleUpon With Early 2011 Lead Over Facebook?

With Goldman Sachs obtaining a $450 milliion 'Private IPO' from Facebook this week, could things getting any rosier for the world's largest social network? But it seems that not even an award-winning movie, a graphic novel and Time's 'Person of the Year' can buy everything. Statistics are indicating that discovery engine StumbleUpon appears to be whooping FB's behind in generating more US social media traffic between December and January.

StumbleUpon Leads Facebook in Social Media TrafficStumbleUpon Leads Facebook in Social Media Traffic

How could this be? Much like the Daniel versus Goliath fable, how can a network that only boasts 13 million users generate more traffic than Facebook's 125 million US users? But it does seem to be the case. Tallying 43.34% share of social media traffic to Facebook's 38% gave StumbleUpon CEO Garret Camp the confidence to issue this tweet on January 3.

Now perhaps this a minor blip on StatCounter's social media tracking radar and Facebook will rebound in the latter part of the first quarter of 2011. That's possible - but if you look closely at the trending that occurred a month earlier, you will see that StumbleUpon's gain rose significantly from 36%, whereas Facebook fell from its 44.35% share in November.

So how does StatCounter measure 'social media traffic?' It appears that the statistics are derived by calculating the share of traffic sent out from seven major social media outlets which include SU, FB as well as Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, MySpace and Digg.

So what might be prompting a trend of this type - which for many sounds counter-intuitive - based on Facebook's successful Open Graph monetization model? Part of it might lie in the arena of advertising and the value SU brings to brands and retailers.

Camp prefers to categorize SU as a 'social or content discovery' channel versus a social network. According to Gavin Dunaway, who writes for the online advertising pub Adotas, he notes a significant difference between SU and FB: "If Facebook (is) where online masses converse, StumbleUpon is where they find the goods to fuel the conversation." 

In so doing, instead of Facebook's "peoplelinks," StumbleUpon's focus on content is becoming increasingly appealing to more and more advertisers, especially those interested in marketing with branded content via StumbleAds and its in-depth analytics package. As their Web site notes, "StumbleUpon Advertising exposes your site to millions, bringing highly targeted users directly to your site, with no click-throughs required."

Differing from Facebook and even Google, SU's model is based on the value of a "paid inclusion." With SU, the traditional Web advertisements such as text links, ad units and banners don't exist. Advertising with the SU platform is based on discovery. Marc Leibowitz, an ex-VP of business development and a Google AdWords vet, notes, "Advertisers have been conditioned by Google and followers that it’s all about the click and optimizing the 10 words you get in your three-line search ad.”

Instead of an ad, Leibowitz believes that with StumbleUpon, "It’s full-page, full attention content blended seamlessly into the organic stream of content, rated and reviewed like anything else.”

As far as other differences with Facebook, Gavin Dunaway thinks the StumbleUpon story could make a much more uplifting film than Facebook's unauthorized "The Social Network."

According to Dunaway, when SU's four young co-founders decided to buy back their start-up from eBay, they found the meaning of true friendship. This was then solidified when they simultaneously fell in love with quadruplet sisters and marked their harmonious partnerships with a celebratory joint wedding. However, while truth sometimes can be stranger than fiction, I don't think SU's "Hollywood ending" type of story can match up to Zuckerberg's "backstabbing" rise to the top. Then again, it might be said that StumbleUpon's collaborative teamwork could very well be one of the major reasons the discovery engine has got the wherewithal to steam past its competitor on the highway of social media traffic.

Page from "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" graphic novelPage from "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" graphic novel

Jan 4, 2011
by Anonymous

Will it last?

It will be interesting to see if StumbleUpon can sustain this. Regardless, it is something social networkers should take note of.

-Andy from @BenchmarkEmail