instagram shoutout

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Shoutouts

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Whether you’re in fashion, home decor, sports equipment, or something in between, chances are that Instagram is among the most important social media sites for your business in 2021.

Statistics reveal that 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business, and the platform helps the majority of them decide whether to buy a product or service.

There are lots of opportunities for a robust Instagram marketing plan, like running an Instagram influencer campaign or using paid tactics like a story ad.

 Today, we’ll look at the art and science of the Instagram shoutout. We’ll start by answering a common question – What is a shoutout on Instagram? – look at some examples, and learn how to get Instagram shoutouts for your own page or brand.

Let’s do this.

What is a Shoutout on Instagram?

An Instagram shoutout, also colloquially called Insta shoutout or IG shoutout, is essentially when one user promotes another user on their own Instagram account.

An Instagram shoutout usually takes the form of User A creating a post or story that contains a photo or @ mention of User B.

If it’s a business shoutout, User A’s post might contain a photo or video of a specific product or service that User B sells.

In many cases, shoutouts fall under the umbrella of influencer marketing – a massive trend that has more than doubled in the past couple of years and doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon.

instagram influencer marketing growth

Note: If you’re not familiar with influencer marketing or what a “social media influencer” is, check out this comprehensive influencer marketing ebook.

An Instagram shoutout can happen in a few ways:

  • Paid shoutouts: These shoutouts are a classic influencer marketing tactic. This is when you pay a user to promote your brand, typically with cash or via an exchange for a free product or access to your service.
  • S4S (shoutout for shoutout): S4S is a simple trade – they agree to give you a shoutout on their page if you give them a shoutout on yours.
  • Voluntary shoutout: The Holy Grail of shoutouts. This is when someone is just so darn happy with your product or customer service that they give your brand a shoutout without you even having to ask or pay.

Aside from the type, your Instagram shoutout can vary based on the goal you’re looking to accomplish.

Do you want more followers for your photography account?

In this case, you can ask your shoutout partner to post a photo of yours and include a simple call-to-action (CTA) asking their followers to follow you.

Do you want more sales for the cat litter mat you’re selling on your dropshipping store?

You might send a free mat to your shoutout partner and ask them to post a photo or video of their cat using it, with a CTA that encourages their followers to visit your store to buy their own.

Instagram Shoutout Examples

Let’s look at a few examples of successful Instagram shoutouts.

Shoutout post with product photo

In this Instagram shoutout example, Carl Thompson from men’s clothing brand Hawkins and Shepherd (@hawkinsandshepherd) gives some love to the Chelsea boot from ECCO Shoes.

We can see that the purpose of this blog is to sell some shoes, as Carl’s CTA is to head over to his blog to learn more about the company.

As you can see by the #ad hashtag, this was a paid shoutout.

ECCO either paid him in cash, sent him some free shoes, or both, depending on how much Carl charges for shoutouts and influencer campaigns.

instagram shoutout post with product photo

Shoutout post without product photo

Because Instagram is a visual platform, photos are recommended to give people a shot of your offerings in action. But you don’t have to have a photo-based post for your IG shoutouts to be successful.

In this shoutout, traveler Angela Liggs (@angelaliggs) used a photo of her Patagonia trip as the backdrop to a caption-based shoutout for a Safedome bluetooth tracker.

She described her experience and how it benefited her trip, then dropped a CTA telling her followers to check out the company’s Instagram page.

Shoutout post without product photo

Shoutout post for more followers

In addition to promoting a brand that sells products or services, another popular use for shoutouts is getting more Instagram followers.

This is especially popular for certain niches like photography.

Canon (@canonusa) is a great example of this. Photographers who use a Canon camera can include the hashtag #MyCanonStory in the caption of their post.

Canon regularly reposts some of the most captivating shots, as well as a quote from the photographer and shooting details like the camera model, lens, and exposure settings.

This brilliant marketing strategy is a win-win for both Canon and its loyal users, who get serious boosts in their credibility and following.

Shoutout post for more followersShoutout post for more followers

How to Shoutout on an Instagram Story

The great thing about Instagram – especially Stories – is that you and your partners have a lot of leeway to get creative with your approach.

Choosing the best Story style really boils down to knowing your audience and what they’re most interested in seeing.

If you’re not familiar with Instagram Stories, here’s a quick refresher:

  • They can be photos or videos with a maximum duration of 15 seconds
  • Users have the option to overlay text and graphics, as well as clickable hashtags and @ mentions for other accounts
  • They last for 24 hours, then they disappear forever into the ether

Jess Fay, the fashionista mom of @lipstickheelsandababy, gave The Pink Lily Boutique a shoutout by shooting an Instagram story video of herself wearing one of the company’s blouses.

In the video, she explains the blouse and how it feels, and offers her followers some fashion tips like which types of jeans would go well to complete the outfit.

If you have a women’s clothing store, I strongly recommend that you send your partner free samples of the items you’d like to promote. Because Jess’s story video was tagged as an #ad, we can assume that’s what The Pink Lily Boutique did.

This is something of a status quo in the world of Instagram women’s fashion.

how to shoutout on instagram story

Jenni and Mimi of, a food and nutrition brand, gave Crock-Pot a shoutout by showing a video of a recipe they made using their Crockpot Express Crock.

The shoutout is simple: no sound or narration, just a beautiful close-up of some pineapple jerk chicken.

If your company sells cooking gadgets or ingredients, having your partner showcase a recipe is a tried-and-true Insta shoutout tactic.

IG story shoutout tactic

Tips to Get Instagram Shoutouts

While there’s no single right way to get an Instagram shoutout, there are some guidelines and best practices that can increase your chances of getting some action.

And there are certainly some things you just shouldn’t do.

Let’s go over a few tips to get Instagram shoutouts that actually work.

1. Be picky about who you choose

A lot can go wrong when you don’t vet your options carefully.

For example, if you’re selling gardening tools, you’re probably not going to have much success trying to get a fruitful shoutout from a high-fashion Instagrammer.

To make sure your potential partners are compatible, look carefully through their profile, posts, and stories so far.

Look at things like:

  • How many followers they have. Unless you already have a lot of clout, stick with “micro-influencers,” or people with audiences of roughly 5,000 to 50,000. Keep in mind that the more followers they have, the more it’ll cost you to buy Instagram shoutouts. If you’re taking the S4S (shoutout for shoutout) route, look for users with similar numbers to your own so there’s mutual benefit.
  • The content, tone, and feel of their profile. What kind of content do they post? Would their followers be interested in your brand too? Also, look at the general vibe they give off to see if it aligns with your own.
  • How many likes and comments their posts get on average. If they have 50,000 followers, but only 50 likes and one comment per post on average, those followers might be fake or purchased.
  • The types of engagement their posts are receiving. Are their followers truly engaged, or are the comments empty, generic, or spammy? This can be another sign of fake followers.

Taking a few extra minutes to do some detective work can make a huge difference in the quality of IG shoutouts you end up with.

It can also save you some valuable time and money in the long run.

And who doesn’t want more disposable time and money?

2. Build relationships before pitching them

Before you ask a stranger to vouch for your integrity, give them a taste of it authentically.

Once you decide that a person or brand is a good candidate, follow their account. If they have other social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, follow those too. Subscribe to their blog if they have one.

Then periodically engage with their posts by liking and commenting on them. (Just don’t go overboard… there’s a fine line between engaged and desperate.)

Follow the rules of tip #1 above: leave comments that add real value.

Give them personalized compliments, bring up relevant discussion topics, or ask them meaningful questions that show you’re really paying attention.

This way, they’ll be familiar with your profile when you message them to ask for your shoutout.

3. Start a conversation with a thoughtful message or email

As you embark on your search for awesome Instagram shoutout partners, you might come across posts that are littered with spammy comments like “S4S?”

outreach for instagram shoutouts

Don’t be that person.

When the time comes to actually reach out to your prospects, do it via an Instagram Direct message or an email (if they provide one in their profile info).

Your pitch will have a lot more weight if it comes as a separate communication.

In your message or email, be transparent about what you’re looking for and how you’d generally like it to pan out.

Here’s a little Instagram shoutout template for your message:

  • Get personal: Introduce yourself and mention something about their account. You can tell them how much you enjoy it, or get as granular as telling them their dog is cute.

“Hi [their name]. I’m [your name] from [your company]. I’ve been following your page, and I love/appreciate/admire your [insert personalized compliment or observation].”

  • State your offer: What’s the purpose of your message, and what value will it deliver to them? If you’re looking to give them a freebie in exchange for a shoutout, or a shoutout for shoutout (S4S), get right to it.

“I think my followers would really enjoy your page. Likewise, I think your followers would enjoy mine. Would you like to trade a shoutout for shoutout post or story?”

  • Give them a next step: What do you want them to do after they read your message? Direct them to your store or profile to learn more, or ask for their thoughts.

“If you’re interested, let me know which one you prefer. Then we can work out the details. Looking forward to hearing from you!”

Here’s an example of a freebie-for-shoutout message:

freebie-for-shoutout insta DM

How to Find Instagram Shoutout Pages

Your first step for finding relevant Instagram shoutout pages should be good ol’ fashioned research.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: when done right, this will take several hours of digging (unless you have the budget for a specialized Instagram shoutout app, which we’ll discuss soon).

Start with industry-specific hashtags. You can find trending hashtags on sites like Best-Hashtags or TagsFinder.

For example, if you’re selling men’s clothing, some good hashtags to kick off your research might include:

  • #menswear
  • #mensfashion
  • #fashion
  • #style
  • #mensstyle
  • #streetwear
  • #menstyle
  • #streetstyle
  • #menwithstyle

find instagram shoutout pages

You can also brainstorm your own or get ideas as you do searches. I recommend keeping a list handy so you have a “database” to reference.

Once you have a good list, type your hashtags into the Instagram search bar and browse through profiles until you find some good candidates.

hashtag research for insta shoutouts

Clicking the hashtag in the dropdown will show you top posts from accounts that used the hashtag recently. Put your detective glasses on and skim away.

researching instagram for shoutout partners

For more juicy tips on how to find quality Instagram shoutout pages, check out this article on how to find influencers in your industry.

Instagram shoutout apps

If you have the budget, consider a specialized Instagram shoutout app that’s designed to connect brands with the right Instagrammers.

An Instagram shoutout app like Shoutcart or NeoReach has its own database of pre-vetted influencers that you can sort through based on industry and keywords.

Instagram shoutout apps

If you’re interested, you’re able to message them securely through the platform to handle all of the details.

Platforms like these can be a real lifesaver if you don’t have the resources or bandwidth to spend hours sorting through profiles on your own.

Should you buy Instagram shoutouts?

In a world where social media is a marketing commodity, you have loads of opportunities to buy Instagram shoutouts.

While some people have a knee-jerk reaction that any type of paid promotion is worse than getting them organically, this isn’t always the case.

When you’re careful about who you work with and how you approach the situation, paid Instagram shoutouts can be a great way to gain exposure, build trust with your target audience, and ultimately boost your sales.

And to be honest, you’ll have to put in a lot more time and effort to get the same results organically as you could get through paid Instagram shoutouts like giving away freebies or paying cash.

Just make sure you keep it kosher and avoid the trap of shady or fake opportunities – the ones we discussed in tip #1 about being picky over who to choose for getting shoutouts.

Not only do you risk getting ripped off financially, but you can also harm your brand’s reputation.

Final Thoughts

That’s it. Now you know everything you need to get started with Instagram shoutouts.

With the help of this Instagram tactic, you can quickly grow your followers almost without investment.

It might take a while to get things going, but once you crack the code about the type of outreach you should be doing and the sort of accounts you should be reaching out to, it starts to get fun and your results should start improving.

And remember, shoutouts are just one way to get followers on Instagram – there are several other tactics that you can use to gain traction on this social network.

Have you used shoutouts in the past? What’s your go-to Instagram strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

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