What S4S Means on Instagram

Get in on this Instagram trend to grow your following

The S4S acronym, which usually appears on Instagram, stands for "shoutout for shoutout." It can also stand for "share for share" or "support for support." Regardless of its exact wording, the meaning behind it is the same: I post content about you; you post content about me.

Smartphone displaying the Instagram app icon.
Carl Court / Getty Images

How S4S Works on Instagram

If you follow popular, branded Instagram accounts (fitness, food, fashion, makeup, etc.), you may have noticed that some of them also include "S4S" in their bios, captions, and even in the comments in their posts.

S4S involves two users who have agreed to give each other a shoutout on their own Instagram accounts. Each user posts a photo or video featuring the other user's account, and they encourage their followers to follow the featured account. If both users have followers with high engagement, this is a very effective technique to quickly increase exposure and gain new followers.

An Example of an Ideal S4S Scenario

Imagine that an Instagram user who has 2,500 followers and posts fitness content is looking to grow their following. They might come across another account that posts similar fitness content and has a similar following of around 2,700. These accounts are compatible for S4S.

To start the process, User #1 will contact User #2 via email or Instagram Direct.

If all goes well, each user will agree to post each other's photo or video, mention their company/brand in the post's description, and encourage their followers to check out the featured account.

Certain very popular Instagram accounts will agree to publish your S4S photo—and leave it on their page for only a specific amount of time before removing it. Others will give you a shoutout only if you buy it from them. In other words, this is serious stuff!

Extra S4S Details Worth Knowing

Some users will only agree to S4S requests from users with a similar following. So, for example, a very popular account with 50,000+ followers might put "S4S 50k+" in their bio to let others know that they won't even consider shouting out accounts with only a few thousand followers.

Why the S4S Trend Gets Results

You don't have to have an Instagram account with a large following to use the S4S trend for your own benefit. If you have 500 followers, for example, all you need to do is start engaging with other accounts who post similar content and have around 500 followers as well. It's really all about being friendly, making connections, and showing genuine interest in the users you want to network with.

As your following grows by engaging in a S4S partnership or two, you can continue reaching out to accounts with a comparable number of followers. Anyone who is consistent about networking on Instagram—and providing great content on a regular basis—can use S4S to drastically grow their following over time.

Continuously teaming up with similar accounts to give each other shoutouts has been the number one strategy for many Instagram accounts who end up having a large following.

S4S is not quite as commonly used as it was in the earlier days of Instagram. If a user doesn't have the S4S acronym anywhere on their page or posts, you can still contact them and suggest it as an option. If they like your profile and feel you'd be a good match to promote each other's content, they may agree to give you a shoutout.

Was this page helpful?