When a person is first introduced to the term social media, experts may sometimes default their explanation to just saying social media is the general term for what Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn are. Well, that definition no longer applies, StumbleUpon may now legitimately come before Facebook.
StumbleUpon is a search engine that discovers the best web pages for each unique visitor to the website. Once a user has signed up to the website, StumbleUpon starts to learn each user’s preferences by which pages are deemed “I like it!” StumbleUpon encourages users to find and rate web pages, videos, and photos. The web service creates a personalized internet experience through peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.
StumbleUpon has passed Facebook — according to Stat Counter — as the site with the most social media referrals in the United States between the months of December and January. A “social media referral” is when a user of a social media site uses a link to go to a new stand alone website. An example of a social media referral tool is the Facebook like button, seen on nearly every website: when one user clicks the like button, they send a link to the website on to the Facebook news feed, this creates an opportunity to have a referral from Facebook. If having the top social media referrals between December and January sounds a bit similar to when CBS announces that their new drama on Thursdays is the Best New Drama, On Thursdays, at 10 it’s not. This is not a stat meant to mislead, this is real, StumbleUpon had more social media referrals between December and January than Facebook, the most visited site of 2010.
At the start of December Facebook had 44.35% of social media referrals, by the end of the month Facebook fell to 37.96% of social media referrals. At the same time StumbleUpon had 35.79% of social media referrals in the beginning of December and finished the month with 43.34% of social media referrals. If you all of these numbers are a little confusing, simply check out the graph to the right. Simply put, in the beginning of the month Facebook had more social media referrals, at the end of the month StumbleUpon had the most.
Why is this such a big deal? It’s a big deal because Facebook has more than 500 million users; StumbleUpon has under 13 million users. A website with so fewer users dramatically sways the way in which advertisers will decide who to advertise with. Companies are going to start looking at who has the most active users instead of just merely the most users. Facebook may be able to say that they have 500 million users signed up, but StumbleUpon can say they have over 12 million very active users. The way that Facebook makes money is by telling advertisers that they will have a certain amount of users viewing their advertisement. Smaller website, such as StumbleUpon can argue that they may have less users, but their users use the website to link to other websites. Facebook users merely look at their friends profiles, while StumbleUpon users visit new websites.
StumbleUpon is a website whose entire interest is to have their users see more pages and share with their community what they like and dislike. This is of prime interest for advertisers. StumbleUpon is proof to content creators that the more intriguing the content is posted the more views from StumbleUpon users.
Facebook would be quick to point out that this is only in the United States. Internationally Facebook still continues to have a grip on social media referrals. Facebook’s international social media referrals are about 60% while StumbleUpon has roughly 20%. Although Facebook’s percentage of social media referrals are decreasing so far this year while StumbleUpon’s referrals have been increasing internationally.
2011 is shaping up to be a great year for social media. Competition for the most social media referrals will help Facebook become a better website for its users while also allowing smaller websites such as StumbleUpon the ability to grow and become more of an advertising force.