What S4S Means on Instagram

Get in on this Instagram trend to grow your following

The S4S acronym stands for "shoutout for shoutout."

Some users will tell you it can also stand for "share for share" or "support for support." Regardless of its exact wording, the meaning behind it is all the same.

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

How S4S Works on Instagram

If you follow any popular Instagram accounts that have branded their pages with a specific theme (fitness, food, fashion, makeup, etc.) then chances are you may have noticed that some of them include the S4S acronym in their bios, post captions or even in comments left on posts.

A S4S basically involves two users who have agreed to give each other a shoutout on their own profiles. This is done by posting a photo (or video) from the other account to feature them and then encouraging followers to go follow them in the post description. If both users' followers are highly engaged, it can be a very effective technique to get exposure and gain new followers very quickly.

Some Extra S4S Details Worth Knowing About

Sometimes, users will only agree to S4S requests from other users if they already have a similar amount of followers in order to make it fair. So, for example, a very popular account with 50,000+ followers might put 'S4S 50k+' in their bio to let others know that they're not even going to consider shouting out accounts that only have a few thousand followers.

Users will often provide an email address so that others interested in doing a S4S can contact them privately and discuss the details of how it will be carried out. Instagram Direct is another option users have for getting in contact with each other, and now that Instagram has rolled out business pages, many users have converted their pages so that they have a Contact button at the top of their profiles.

An Example of a S4S Scenario

Let's say 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.

This is a good account to consider sending a certain photo or video to the other user for a S4S, with a specific description included. Depending on what contact information the other user has provided in their profile bio, the user could email the other user (if their email is in their bio), click the Contact button if they have a business page or simply send them a private message via Instagram Direct.

If all goes well during the communication of setting up a S4S, each user will agree to post each other's photo or video post and description. Most descriptions of S4S posts also include the Instagram handle of the other user, encouraging followers to go follow them.

Some big and very popular accounts will sometimes agree to only publish your S4S photo and leave it there for a specific amount of time before it's deleted. Others will only give you a shoutout if you buy it from them. In other words, this is serious stuff!

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 other users you're interested in networking with.

As your follower count grows by engaging in a S4S partnership or two, you can keep reaching out to more accounts that have a comparable number of followers. Anyone who is serious about Instagram networking and providing great content on a regular basis to their audience should be able to use the S4S trend to grow their follower counts into the tens of thousands (or possibly even hundreds of thousands) with enough consistent work over a period of months to years. Yes, it does involve work and patience!

Whatever the requirements may be for the S4S work that you decide to pursue, this simple technique is an extremely popular strategy that has been proven to grow follower counts at a very fast rate. For many of the big accounts that have thousands upon thousands of followers, continuously teaming up with similar accounts to give each other shoutouts has been the number one strategy for follower growth.

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 could always 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 to their own followers, then they may just agree to give you a shoutout.