Category Archives: Stumbleupon

Update: selling through social media

What better way to revive this blog than with a follow-up on the post about selling through social media for our own website?

Two and a half years is a really long time in the internet world, so surely a lot of things must have changed? So here’s the new traffic driven by social channels:

note: do not compare absolute numbers between 2015 and 2013; I have chosen different periods

And for comparison, also the traffic from Google’s organic search below:


So what difference do we see between 2015 and 2013?

  1. Facebook is driving less traffic, but is still the number one social traffic source. It took us a long time to feel the Facebook squeeze for commercial pages, but even for our content it was inevitable. Conversion rates are up though which point in the direction of less volume, more relevance/quality. Exactly what Facebook would like to see.
  2. Pinterest has grown immensely, both in volume as in sales. Everyone knows that Pinterest is growing at a massive rate. However there changes such as rich pins (and more recently their ecommerce integration) seem to be helping in Pinterest’s transformation from a social discovery engine to a social shopping engine.
  3. Everything else is dropping in importance. StumbleUpon has nearly died for us, as we ignore the low-quality traffic channel in our marketing mix now. Similar conclusion can be made for Tumblr, Twitter and the likes: they just don’t seem to do it for us, so we tend to focus on our primary social channels. Some of these definitely still have potential, but need to move out of the way for our two giants Facebook and Pinterest.
  4. Is there a new guy in town? Instagram definitely has some potential with its -similar to Pinterest- image focused medium. However since you cannot implement direct links to your website, as a traffic driver it will probably be rather small. Our limited efforts however have proven though that one can stir up quite an interest here as well.

It seems that most social media channels are growing up. We do see the 80/20 rule into play with regards to traffic levels, where it is our strategy to focus on less channels that to spread as much as possible. Also the uptake in conversion rate will be something that is looked at in the Facebook and especially Pinterest headquarters with great satisfaction.

Selling through social media


So how many real dollars is that Facebook referral worth? Or that tweet from user with many followers?

Since 2012, my girlfriend has been running a crafts website where she sells premium patterns and links to free patterns. Because of the nature of her business, the primary focus for both traffic and conversion has been social media. So which channel has been the most important?

Above you can see the top 10 social networks with regards to traffic sent. It might form no surprise that Facebook leads the way, with Stumbleupon and Pinterest coming in for silver and bronze medals. Negative outliers are YouTube and Twitter. For YouTube it is important to note that she only ever made 1 YouTube video because of the additional workload. Twitter on the other hand never really worked for our niche.

Ok, that’s all mildly interesting. But which channel led to the most sales?

note: data has been scaled to avoid handing out competitive data. Ratio’s are correct.

Just for comparison, you can also view the results for Google’s organic search below.

Adding e-commerce transactions changes the importance of each channel. The top performers in traffic quality are Ravelry (a competitor), YouTube (we obviously underestimated this channel) and Naver (a Korean search engine) but they bring in too little traffic to pay much attention to. Then comes Facebook which has been the center of our marketing efforts and has a more than decent conversion rate. After Facebook it is Tumblr, Pinterest, Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress, Twitter and in last position StumbleUpon.

Should these results surprise you? If you take into account visitor’s state of mind of each channel, maybe not that much. StumbleUpon performs so bad because it is in essence a discovery channel sending you mass visitors. Similar story for Pinterest where users are bombarded by hundreds of interesting items. When people are discovering, they are not necessarily buying.

The main lesson we learned from this is to treat each social media channel visitor differently. Especially for StumbleUpon and Pinterest, direct sales have appeared to be a bridge too far for most the visitors. This is why we are currently making the move towards micro-converting (Facebook like for our page, share on their social network, …) visitors from these channels rather than trying to push them into buying. A different strategy for each different traffic source.