Acquisition Channel Opportunities: Shopify's Acq. Channels, getting viral on Twitter, TikTok/IG Affiliate Program

If you want to get more paying users, you either need to a) Find new acquisition channels, or b) Be better at using existing channels. This post will help you with both a) and b). I've read last week's tech news and found 3 acquisition channel opportunities:

  • TikTok and Instagram may soon add affiliate programs, making it much more easier to work with influencers;

  • Shopify just gave you an overview of how they're acquiring merchants for their platforms. Find why this is important;

  • Going viral on Twitter may not be worth as much as you think in terms of ROI.

Let's dive in.

1. Shopify Just Gave You a List of Their Acquisition Channels

Shopify just published their Q4 financial results for 2020. If you look at page 8, however, you'll notice an interesting image:


These are the channels that Shopify uses to acquire merchants (starting from entrepreneurs to large enterprises).

Notice how the lower you go down the list, the more "sales" you see appearing as a channel? This is consistent with my Zero to Users analysis - the bigger the companies you target are, the more you switch from marketing to sales.

What this means for you: If you want to target both SMBs and large enterprises, and are not sure what would be a suitable channels for each, this is a useful picture to refer to (coming from a company that successfully onboarded millions of businesses).

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2. Going Viral on Twitter Isn't Worth Much

This is the conclusion of an analysis made by Zulie Rane. She reached out to the authors of several viral tweets to determine if they recieved any sales/inquiries from that extra exposure. All of surveyed accounts had less than 500 followers.

The results: One user got +300 followers, another +500 and some recieved media interview requests. The third person was offered a $10 brand sponsorship deal and +1000 followers.

Is Twitter overrated? Two weeks ago, I wrote about a study that found that the average engagement rate on a Twitter post was 0.08%. The bigger question though is: Is there any financial ROI from being big on Twitter? I've tried searching Indie Hackers for answers, and only found this post on how Dawid got 17 project inquiries after a popular Twitter figure replied to his tweet.

What this means for you: I've seen instances of people using Twitter successfully , but not as a social network - but a search engine. For example, take Referral Rock ($70k/mo), and the way they got to their first 500 users:

I was also active on Twitter where I reached out to marketers or anyone that mentioned "referral programs." I would comment or favorite tweets from the Referral Rock Twitter account which listed a free referral program. Throughout the year-long beta I had over 500 individuals kicking the tires on the free referral program before I started charging.

What about using Twitter as a social network (more specifically, posting something, hoping it will reach people beyond your existing followers)? Unfortunately, I haven't seen many such examples where founders had consistent financial ROI results.

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3. TikTok & Instagram May Soon Turn into Affiliate Networks

There's been some clear signs that TikTok and Instagram are preparing an affiliate program systems. The whole goal is for product owners to list products to be promoted by TikTok creators.


One of the biggest issues when working with social media influencers has been payment. Should you pay influencers up-front, or should you do a rev-share? If you do a rev-share, how will you track the results? It seems both TikTok/Instagram are actively trying to solve this problem.

What this means for you: These 2 platforms have billions of users, and millions of creators, so you can imagine the potential size of their affiliate network. If this happens, ideally, you'd be able to pick a list of suitable influencers, propose to run a small experiment where they promote your product in short video, and continue the relationship if you start getting sales.

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  1. 2

    This was a great one. Loved the Shopify share! I was particularly interested in your last bit about TikTok and Instagram, and the point you made about attribution for influencer sales. My company is currently working on solving one aspect of this problem -- false attribution signals from coupon code extensions. Extensions like Honey and Capital One shopping scrape coupon codes and make them available to anyone. If influencers are getting paid based on sales from a unique code, this can artificially inflate those sales causing not just attribution problems, but also inflating the amounts brands pay to influencers. I wrote this post explaining it > https://www.clean.io/blog/what-is-influencer-fraud.

    1. 1

      Interesting, wasn't ware influencers were doing this. Maybe this is one of the reasons why IG/TikTok are trying to get affiliate tracking in-house?

      1. 1

        It would make sense for them to do that. But at the end of the day, any affiliate/influencer strategy that relies on promo codes is vulnerable to this.

  2. 2

    LinkedIn creating a marketplace. IG/TikTok creating affiliate marketing programs/platforms. These companies are really betting on getting a significant piece of the creator's economy.

    1. 1

      They also acquire these companies (like HubSpot recently acquiring The Hustle).

  3. 2

    I get an impression that many people on Indie Hackers seem to be pushing Twitter (touting accomplishments like "I got viral on Twitter!"). Is Twitter just a social status game for tech guys?

    1. 3

      For me personally, I've decided to treat my email list like the primary place where I get people to. Then I redirect them to ALSO follow me on Twitter, etc. Using a social media platform as the primary mechanism of distribution is a bad, bad idea IMO. Twitter already has a dismal engagement rate. What if they introduce a new feature (like Instagram did with Reels) and start giving it advantage over traditional posts? So I'm really torn over this issue.

    2. 1

      Looks the same to me. The only way I've seen people with big followers monetize is by writing books on "how to get to big followers on Twitter".

  4. 1

    The only problem I see is prohibited niches & products, which will have no benefits at all. Other than that, this is great news. An hopefully platforms will not charge big percentage.

    What's happening now: product creator finds Influencer and pay money in order him/her to promote. In this case platform get's nothing. Smart move to create specific area where influencers and product creators can meet easy plus take a bite of cake :)

    1. 2

      That's a really good point. I wonder how they'll handle niches like CBD.

  5. 1

    I think the biggest benefit of Twitter is the relationships you can build, which indirectly might lead to more measurable metrics like sales, partnerships, newsletter subscribers, etc.

    1. 1

      Hope this will be replaced by platforms/features like CH.

    2. 1

      How likely are you to get people to respect/want to network with you from a Tweet though? From what I can see by far, Clubhouse seems like a much better platform for this (relationship building which can turn into sales/partnerships/etc.)

      1. 1

        I don't think a lot of the relationships I've build via Twitter have come directly from my tweets specifically.

        Usually, they come from me replying to someone else's tweet.

        In other words, getting in on interesting conversations has been what's worked for me.

        1. 1

          Interesting! Can you share a specific example? I think there’s this extreme of people with, say, 200 followers trying to reply to tweets with people with 100k+ followers, getting ignored and then proclaiming Twitter doesn’t work for networking.

          1. 1

            Yeah, I think you gotta find that sweet spot...

            One recent example is that I've gotten to know Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger because I was going back and forth on a tweet with Tim Stoddart who knows (and follows) him. Brian thought the conversation was interesting (I guess) and replied a couple times, and then I noticed that he followed me. After that, I followed him, started commenting on some of his stuff, and things went from there.

            1. 1

              That's pretty interesting, thanks for sharing :)

              1. 1

                For sure. Thanks for the post :)

  6. 0

    Great post! Definitely agree with the tracking of results part. Tools like this one might work > https://kitly.co/?track=linktree/#/

    1. 1

      I don't see how this tool is related to anything I wrote...

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