The personalized discovery engine StumbleUpon has doubled its user base over the last 16 months and now has more than 20 million registered members. It has also surpassed one billion “stumbles” – the number of times someone finds content by clicking the stumble button – per month.

StumbleUpon’s service lets you discover and share websites, photos, and videos that are personalized to your interests. You can also rate and share reviews for your followers. All of this is done through a toolbar that is downloaded upon registration.

The social network has a number of benefits for personal use – including bookmarking – but it also plays a large role in driving traffic to specific websites. When you indicate that a particular item is a favorite, it will automatically be recommended to the entire network. Now that StumbleUpon has more than doubled its number of monthly stumbles, it’s worth considering as another powerful element in your brand’s social media strategy.

StumbleUpon Is a Social Platform

When you first join StumbleUpon, you’ll be asked to create a profile. Make sure that your profile accurately reflects your brand and demonstrates that you’re not there solely to reap traffic perks. You’ll also be asked to choose topics you’re interested in. It’s helpful to select topics that you’ve researched, or that your target audience would have an interest in.

While you should stumble your own content, and share it just as you would on Twitter or Facebook, that alone won’t get you more traffic. The more you contribute, rate, and stumble, the more likely it is that your content will be found. Sharing content that’s relevant to your industry will help position you as a thought leader among your followers.

StumbleUpon also lets you know when people visit your profile. This helps you keep abreast of who is rating your content and reading your reviews. You should pay attention to these visitors and follow back anyone who may be relevant to your target audience.

Integrate With Other Platforms

Although StumbleUpon is breaking usage records, it’s still not a household name. To address this, the service allows you to link your reviews and stumbled pages to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. While promoting your additional social presence, you’re also getting three times the awareness by clicking just one button.

StumbleUpon offers “publish” buttons next to the content you’d like readers to stumble. It’s important to note that once clicked, that article is added to the StumbleUpon index, and people can rate, review, and share it.

Create a Strategy

Be strategic about what you’re sharing – don’t just stumble your own content repeatedly. When you do share your own content, make sure that it’s relevant to your audience. For example, stumbling your About page might not be important, but sharing a blog post about a new feature is.

The best way to see which stumbles get the best response is to track your pages. StumbleUpon has introduced its own URL shortener, Su.pr, to do just that. It not only gives you the options to shorten a URL, or share it with the StumbleUpon community, it also provides additional analytics. Use the Su.pr link shortener to see how many clicks and retweets your link has received, and to view your top traffic sources for the articles you’ve shared.

StumbleUpon is beneficial for brands, not only in terms of driving traffic, but for content discovery as well. Who knows when you might have a case of writer’s block and need a little inspiration for your company blog? Use StumbledUpon to source story and content ideas you might not otherwise have considered.

Do you have a StumbleUpon profile? Has the platform driven traffic to your website or other social media outposts? Share your experiences below.

[Image credit: Scott Beale, Glenn Harper, Jon Nicholls, Frankie Roberto]