Is Pinterest The New StumbleUpon?

Pinterest has been getting rave reviews for it’s ability to drive traffic, and eat up time for over 10 million users. Most notably, the site designed to emulate a digital scrap board has been the fastest to 10 million unique visitors ever for a stand-alone site.

It’s no surprise that the sites growth has many comparing Pinterest to StumbleUpon, the other rising star in the social sharing space. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon in fear of being the last to join the party, so lets take a moment to compare the two social darlings and see which site has more staying power.

Referral Traffic

SU 6%, Pinterest 2.5%

Although Pinterest is rivaling Twitter and Google when it comes to traffic, it’s still a ways behind StumbleUpon (who sits well behind Facebook in the number 1 spot at 24%). That said, some recent redesigns to StumbleUpon may lead to a dip in referral traffic thanks to it’s decision to frame sites within the walls of SU rather than sending users to direct links. Considering Pinterest’s unprecedented ascension, it seems likely that it will overtake StumbleUpon at some point in the not too distant future.

Winner: StumbleUpon… For now.

Audience Demographic

If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest you may have noticed that it’s very… girly. Actually, it’s overwhelmingly girly. Over 80% of the users are women. As a result, visually  appealing products and publishers targeting women have seen the biggest impacts by the site.  For many brands that either don’t have a visually appealing product, or don’t focus on women in their target audience, Pinterest may not be a good fit in the short term.

StumbleUpon is a little closer to the middle of the spectrum than Pinterest, but also skews more heavily toward one gender. The recently re-designed site is comprised of between 60% and 70% men with a slight leaning towards tech and cyber culture.

In conclusion, if your audience fits the description of Pinterest’s user base I outlined above, it makes a lot of sense to invest resources in building a presence on the site. However, if your brand is more suited for males or is not visually appealing, spending too many resources building out a presence for Pinterest isn’t recommend – at least not in the short term. That said, the beauty about both sites and social media in general is that to be truly effective you should be creating content based on values or purpose. Therefore, content built to optimize your presence on SU can double as elements that can be placed on Pinterest organized around said values/purpose.

Winner: StumbleUpon


Submitting Content:

Pinterest’s design emulates a scrapbook where users can collect images from across the web and organize them under boards that represent interests or topics. The more constituents organize web content around interests, the more value there is in performing a visual search around an interest within the walls of Pinterest itself.

Similar to Pinterest, users users submit content to the site if it hasn’t already been tagged. Although users are free to tag content under whatever keywords they deem appropriate, tagging it with the most appropriate interests makes it more likely to receive traffic as users “Stumble”.

Consuming Content:

Within the walls of Pinterest, users can search keywords that populate relevant images based on the board titles and how each image is curated. The user is then free to easily scan, view, and potentially re-pin the pictures that appeal to them in a single view.

StumbleUpon takes a different, more mysterious, approach. StumbleUpon asks it’s users to “Stumble” through content by clicking a button within a pre-defined interest (e.g. Social Media). Content is then served up one page at a time. As users like or dislike content. the site gets a better idea of what each user is looking for and refines future content based on these inputs. In this model, the ball in in SU’s court. They control the algorithm for what pages get served up to users based on those like/dislike cues. This can result in huge surges in traffic among an audience that shares an interest that your content is speaking to, but it can be difficult to predict what kind of traffic you can expect.

Overall, if you have a keen understanding of your audience based on what they are searching for and what kind of content appeals to them Pinterest is probably the more predictable platform here. Because the site allows the user to take an all-up view of relevant content around an interest rather then depending on the site’s algorithm to serve up results one at a time, it makes sense that regularly publishing optimized content to the site will more steadily build traffic for your site.

Winner: Pinterest


In the end this isn’t really a zero sum game. If you are already creating content that resonates on Pinterest because you have a visually appealing product that you are telling a story around, there is no reason that same content can’t be used on StumbleUpon and vice versa. The key is creating original content that focuses less on the actual product, and more on shared values or purpose. Remember, social is about joining conversations not mass marketing.

Besides, the barriers to having a minimal presence on Pinterest or StumbleUpon is pretty low. The key is to make sure you’re tagging and curating the content you submit as well as you can. However, If you want to make an investment in building out a more advanced presence, its a smart idea to really consider whether or not your audience is there already and what your objective is for spending the time and money in the first place. For StumbleUpon, this probably means building a cool application or web tool that resonates with your audience. For Pinterest, this primarily means building out themed boards and investing in rich, original images and video. Neither scenario should be taken lightly, and both require a keen understanding of your online audience and how they spend their time online.

7 thoughts on “Is Pinterest The New StumbleUpon?

  1. As a fan of Pinterest but also a occasional user of Stumble Upon I agree with you that both have their strengths and weaknesses. Some things that I have noticed about the two sites are the way their mobile apps are set up. Pinterest may show many things at one time in comparison to SU’s one page but in my opinion this make Pinterest very cluttered or overpowering on a mobile device.

    I also have been noticing that around my campus, MSU, some of my guy friends are using Gentlemint. Which I have concluded is the male version of Pinterest. With less wedding stuff they seem to enjoy it more. Give it a look and see if you agree that it would be a competitor for Pinterest when it comes to deciding which gender is worth targeting on which site.

    A final point about Pinterest I am interested to see in the future would be what I have been referring to as “promoted pins.” Will we see more companies pinning their products under company accounts? I think it is a likely possibility.

    • Thanks for the comment! Very good point about the mobile UX. Pinterest is still working to figure out what direction they want to take their service in, but I imagine an enhanced mobile experience is in the cards considering their core audience.

      I haven’t heard of Gentlemint I’ll check them out, thanks for the tip. To address your last point, Pinterest hasn’t shared much about their monetization strategy either because they don’t have a good one yet, or because they’re keeping it close to the chest. That said, promoted pins could make a lot of sense given the platform as long as brands don’t think that means posting ads.


  2. Pinterest offers SO MUCH more than StumbleUpon. So much more. You may compare the traffic, but that’s it. For us, Pinterest serves as an additional social channel that we manage for our clients at Banyan Branch. And – unlike StumbleUpon – our clients with actual products & skus for sale are able to track the traffic directly to a conversion. StumbleUpon… not so.

    It’s unfortunate that you’re drinking Elliott Lemenager’s StumbleUpon Kool-Aid Nick! I’ve read a few of your StumbleUpon posts (and seen you use religiously) since you started working with him and truthfully I’ve held back from commenting until now. StumbleUpon is BAD FOR YOUR SITE. Just Google: “stumbleupon high bounce rates” to understand what I’m talking about.

    Typically StumbleUpon users don’t stay on any one site for very long. Most stay 10 seconds or less, clicking “stumble” “stumble” “stumble” until they see something that catches their eye. This totally KILLS YOUR BOUNCE RATE.

    Some more perspective from an article: “Many speculate and claim to have proved that Google and other search engines use bounce rate as a factor in their search algorithm. If we assume this is true, StumbleUpon traffic could actually be bad for your site.”

    We should get a drink sometime. I really like what you’re doing but try to think more outside of (Elliott’s) box! :D

    • Pinterest is a good tool if you have a physical product, but I’m gonna have to disagree with you in regards to bounce rates. From personal experience StumbleUpon traffic generally bounces less that that of search and is right in -line with traffic from social networks.
      Just as would be the case if you don’t execute correctly for Pinterest, if you don’t optimize for the platform, consider where the audience is in the consideration cycle for your product, and seed to the wrong interests your bounce rate will go up. The key is to understand how to build content optimized for the interests and audience you targeting.

      There are limitations for Pinterest that at this point doesn’t make it a good option for a lot of brands. That might change as the audience diversifies (over 80% women at the moment) but for the moment driving interest-based traffic still lies in the realm of SU for the time being in my opinion. That said, for certain products and brands, generally the ones with any visual appeal, Pinterest can be a very good option.

  3. Pingback: Content, Engagement, and Social Media Dovetail « OnePerspective

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