Growth January 12, 2021

Acquisition Channel Opportunities: Web Stories, Decentralization, Instagram Engagement

Darko @zerotousers

Want more paying users? Take a look at the acquisition channel opportunities I discovered this week:

  • Web Stories: How a blog got 263,000 impressions from using this new Google feature;
  • Decentralization: Learn about a new set of websites that are getting 16M+ visitors per month;
  • Instagram Engagement: A new format that Instagram prioritizes over traditional feed posts.

Let's get started.

1. Google Web Stories: A New, Promising Channel That's Starting to Show Results

The history: Two months ago, Google announced they're bringing Web Stories to the Discover section of the app which reaches over 800 million people per month. Google "Discover" is the equivalent of Facebook News Feed, giving users useful content based on their behavior.

Two weeks ago Recently, Andrea Volpini, CEO of from WordLift, published a case study on how a Web Story they published brought them a 504.17% increase in traffic:


This also caused John Mueller, a Search Advocate at Google working with SEO specialists, to reply to one of Andrea's Tweets:


What this means for you: It's one thing to read news about a new acquisition tactic - but its a whole other beast to test it on your own. Andrea's published case study, along with her additional useful tips takes the guesswork out of it. Read this article and consider how you can add Web Stories to your website.

2. The Current Political Climate is Creating New, Decentralized Acquisition Channels

Trump. Democrats. Republicans. Bans. Censorship. These are all topics from last week that caused many people to (at least) consider moving off big companies platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

The takeaway: In the end, these bans are meaningless. New platform emerge from the ashes of others.

Just look at what happened after Reddit banned the "r/DonaldTrump" subreddit group - everyone just migrated to (a site I found out from reading this HN thread. I did some research on this site, and indeed, it has now become one of the top sites in the US in terms of traffic:


This current political climate is creating not only new, but more decentralized acquisition channels as well. PeerTube, a P2P alternative to youtube, has released version 3 of their product. People are actively asking about decentralized Twitter alternatives like Mastodon and Diaspora.

What this means for you: Keep an eye on this space. Mainstream news media probably won't cover these sites. I only learned about TheDonald from a Hacker News comment. The good news is that I'm actively scouting the web for new acquisition channel trends like these, and you're more likely to be one of the first to find out if you're a subscriber:

My prediction is: These new sites/apps/platforms are growing right now because of politics. But if they get more traction, as time passes by, they'll slowly start discussing other things as well. If a decent percentage of your audience are conservatives, you definitely want to keep an eye on this space.

3. Your Instagram Organic Engagement Sucks Right Now? It's Because You're Not Using Reels

This was the answer Rachel Reichenbach was given got by the Instagram team when she asked why her instagram engagement sucks:

why things suck #1: no feelies, only reelies.

Reels are a new Instagram feature, meant to be a competitor to TikTok. But they haven't been rolled out in every country yet. Reels are the current cheat code to success for Instagram right now. They are also one of the reasons why so many people saw their engagement tank this fall. This is because reels are currently boosted in the algorithm. Once the reels feature isn’t so new a few months from now, it will likely be downgraded to normal weight.

Also, Instagram seems to have a team that's completely dedicated to Reels marketing:

Instagram currently has a team that is dedicated entirely to just finding good reels for them to promote. If your reel is chosen to be featured, they’ll choose to show it to more people for around a month, leading to a ton of views.

This goes in line with what I've been saying a lot: When a company announces a new acquisition channel (Instagram released Reels back in August), they give a temporary boost to companies that use it. That's been the case for Web Stories above, and that's the case for Reels here.

What this means for you: Keep an eye on new acquisition channels. Of course, the fundamentals are also important (see my Zero to Users research on this topic). But timing is also crucial (some people even said it's the most important thing that makes startups succeed) for success as well.r/th

  1. 4

    When Google enters a game you know things are about to get interesting

  2. 4

    On decentralization, Naval published an interesting quote several hours ago:

    "We’re transitioning through a temporary bug in the Internet’s history before we knew how to build open social protocols.

    At first, the Internet transferred data. Then, it transferred scarcity (Bitcoin). Then, computation (Ethereum). Coming up - identity and social graphs."

    1. 1

      A huge fan of Naval. Totally agree.

  3. 3

    I need to try Web Stories ASAP!

  4. 2

    I've also noticed the same thing with my organic Instagram. It's one thing to promote another feature, but to do it at the expense of others...yet another reason I'm considering moving off Instagram and getting people on an email list.

    1. 1

      Btw, I've seen the same thing happen with Twitter after the latest bans. A lot of indie hackers/founders pushing their SubStack/email list on their Twitter feed lately.

      People are starting to realize it's a bad idea for a platform to be your #1 acq. channel :) Luckily I've realized this long time ago (several years ago it was Squidoo/HubPages/eHow/Ezinearticles), and without an exception they all eventually turned on their users once they got too big.

      1. 2

        What's going on is truly horrific. I've been observing mostly what the neutral sources say. If I listen to the far leftists/conservatives, they all have extreme views. But I agree...almost all neutral sources I've seen say these developments are concerning and are trying to diversify on channels they have more control over.

        1. 2

          I agree. I don't consider myself to be on either side of the political spectrum, but these are concerning developments. I think decentralization and/or new platforms is the long/medium-term solution.

  5. 1

    While Web Stories is an attractive marketing opportunity, it also means we are injecting Google shit to our sites and giving away all our user data. Take it with a grain of salt. Be aware what are you giving away, look for independent alternatives. The future is where the Web is truly independent once again and we are able to get attention without relying of centralised aggregators like Google. It's up to us to figure out how.

  6. 1

    WOW! Thank you Darko for these insights so much!

  7. 1

    The Instagram Insight is amazing! Thanks again Darko, great post!

    1. 1

      Glad you found it useful

  8. 1

    Great overview. Just subscribed to your series. Do you publish these every week?

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