The redesign is all about helping you hone in on your interests, without losing that random factor that made StumbleUpon what it is today. They’ve done this by adding Channels and a new Explore Box.
Channels are the StumbleUpon version of Facebook pages. They’re accounts from brands, celebrities and sites such as ESPN, Campbell’s Soup or Chelsea Handler. You can Follow a Channel, then Stumble it when you want to look through the suggested pages.
From a marketing standpoint, these Channels could have real power, but for now, they’re underwhelming. The problem lies in the fact that they aren’t programmed by the Channel owner (or so it seems). They appear to pull the feed items based on search results, so what you’re getting is similar to the results from a Google alert.
The other problem is visual – for example, the Food Network Channel is pulling the same photo for every post and the text is broken.
If in the end, brands can program their own channels, then it could be of real use as a marketing tool.
The Explore box allows for keyword stumbling. Instead of stumbling purely by interest as you did in the past (science, humor, writing), you can now choose a specific word or phrase.
It’s kind of like searching a word in Google, but the results are a little more random. I searched my favorite TV actor and got a combination of entertainment blog mentions, fan pages and related Etsy items. These aren’t the top pages related to the topic, they’re the ones you probably wouldn’t find using Google and that’s pretty cool if you’ve got time to spare.
In addition, they’ve also updated the StumbleBar so it’s easier to share your finds on other social networks. The profile pages are cleaner and more enticing and there are more ways to slice and dice the information.
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StumbleUpon has always been a favorite of mine, even when they weren’t at the top of the heap. The site is known for its ability to send wild amounts of traffic to a site in a short period of time. Sadly, its traffic that usually doesn’t stick or come back. Not great if you’re trying to build an audience, but excellent if all you’re after is pure hits.
With this new design and their recently released mobile apps, StumbleUpon is going to rise up and become a real powerhouse in social media. Go get ‘em, boys.