Referrals on Social Media: A modern word-of-mouth marketing

Referrals on social media was the first Scuti’s product for Shopify stores. We built this feature towards our mission which was helping eCommerce businesses maximize the power of word-of-mouth and social media by placing their customers at the heart of marketing efforts.

The goal of this feature is to uniquely integrate referral, social media, and influencer marketings. Before jumping into how our Shopify referral program is efficiently combining these marketing strategies, let’s first review how each of these strategies works independently. Afterward, we elaborate on our unique Shopify referral program.

Referral, social media, and influencer marketing

Here is the common definition of these programs:

  • Referral programs: Your customers are encouraged to promote your brand with their friends by sharing a generic link about your store or products. It’s effective because people trust recommendations from their friends more than any other type of advertising.
  • Social media marketing: It is all about connecting with your audience and helping them understand your brand better by creating tailored content. The key here is the typical social media marketing refers to generating content by yourself other than user-generated content.
  • Influencer marketing: A social media influencer is someone who has built a loyal following through their online content creation. Therefore, they have the power to drive brand awareness and promote your brand. Influencers influence their audience in a way to purchase your product and increase sales.

Despite the popularity of these marketing strategies, they come with their limitations. While the internet is overwhelmed with how effective these marketing strategies are in terms of increasing traffic and sales, here we point out their shortcomings. We later leverage these shortcomings to build our Shopify referral on social media program based upon addressing these limitations:

  • The issue with Referral programs: In the referral program, the advocate typically shares a generic link with their friends and such a link oftentimes redirects to the business website. But just think about it, how much a generic link can be impactful to convince a new customer to make a new purchase? The referral is effective when it comes with customization.
  • The issue with social media marketing: When you talk about social media marketing, it typically means how you engage with your customers through social media platforms by creating YOUR OWN content and running social media advertisements. But, this way is more about how you represent your brand and products to others; not how other people think about your product. Well, of course, the latter is more effective.
  • The issue with Influencer marketing: Okay, influencers are “other” people who promote your products by creating customized content tailored to your brand. It’s a pretty good and effective strategy, but only if you have enough budget to cover the influencer pay cuts. If you’re a small Shopify business with a tight budget, probably you should find another solution.

Scuti’s unique social media referral program

What if we can address the above caveats while keeping the pros of these popular marketing strategies? Like having a system that is built based on the concept of refer-a-friend, yet it comes with user-generated content, and leveraging the power of social media? Yes, this is what our Shopify referral program is all about. Basically, Scuti lets all happy customers create and share a post/story on their choice of social media while displaying a discount code to incentivize their friends to become a new customer. Let’s deep dive and see how such a program integrates all referral, social media, and influencer marketing:

  • It’s a two-sided referral program: The advocate (your customer) gets a discount code, and because they display the code on their post/story, their friends can also use the discount code.
  • It’s social media marketing: Well, everything is happening on social media. Just instead of you, your customers create the content and spread the word about your products on their social media.
  • It’s influencer marketing: Every customer acts like a nano/micro influencer by sharing a post, in exchange for a discount. So it’s based on your customers, with a lower number of followers yet a much lower cost.

How does it work in your Shopify store?

While you can find the step-by-step tutorial on how to run our Shopify referral on social media program, I’m explaining it here in a nutshell:

  1. While you can find the step-by-step tutorial on how to run our Shopify referral on social media program, I’m explaining it here in a nutshell:
  2. After you launch your campaign and set up the discount code value, Scuti will show a referral widget to your customers. The referral widget displays an INACTIVE discount code, plus your social media page (if you have any).
  3. Customers should create a simple post/story on their choice of social media. The only requirement for the post/story is to display the discount code, and your social media page if it’s shown on the referral widget. This means customers have full flexibility in creating their post/story.
  4. Once their post gets at least 10 views or likes (which is an indicator of a minimum engagement), they should upload the screenshot of their post/story in the link we email to them. That’s all the customer needs to do.
  5. Next, Scuti automatically verifies the post/story and makes sure it is a valid one. If verified, the discount code gets activated. Then, both the customer and their friends can redeem the code on their next purchase.

What we have changed compared to the past?

The major difference between our current version of the Shopify referral program against the old one is about how customers generate the content for sharing on Social media. In the old version, because we wanted to generate a ready-to-share photo based on the customers’ input, we forced the customers to get through a couple of more steps. For example, we asked them to write a review, rate the store, and pick a photo about their purchase, then we generated a ready photo based on the customer’s info and asked them to specifically post the created photo.

However, over time, we found that it might not be a good idea to force the customers to go through multiple steps. Instead, the focus should be on simplicity by designing a frictionless user experience that eventually ends up with more customers’ engagement in our referral program. Thus, we decided to drop all steps in creating a ready-to-share photo and design a one-step process: Just create a post/story on your own and display a discount code for your friends.


Referral programs, social media marketing, and influencer marketings are not new concepts. They are effective but like other marketing strategies, they come with their own shortcomings. Scuti’s referral on social media is the first Shopify referral app that efficiently integrates these marketing strategies into a simple yet effective marketing design. Our Shopify referral program converts all typical customers into micro/nano influencers who create custom content, share it on social media, and refer your products to their friends.