How many times have you seen your favourite influencer promoting small brands on their Instagram account?

A lot, right! Whether its fashion, home decor, food, or makeup, their stories and posts are filled with exciting product reviews. This method – known as shoutouts – is one of the most effective ways for online brands to get engagement and more followers on Instagram. Let’s have a look in more detail.

What is an Instagram Shoutout?

An Instagram shoutout is when one user promotes another on their Instagram account. Using a grid post, Story or Reel, they share what they like about an Instagram account or product and may suggest a call to action such as buying the product or following the account.

Effectively, it’s influencer marketing, although it is a technique that small accounts as well as large ones can use. The key is finding accounts that have followers who are your ideal audience.

The Three Types of Instagram Shoutouts

Let’s have a look at the three kinds of shoutouts, so you can choose which ones are right for your account.

Example of a paid shoutout on Instagram for Etsy sellers.

1. Paid Shoutouts

Sometimes the simplest way forward is to pay, either in cash or product. Many influencers will have details of the best way to contact them in their profile or profile link and may suggest what kinds of shoutouts they’re open to.

The two of you agree on a payment, product or combination of both and what will be delivered, along with a timeframe on when the shoutout will take place. Prices will often rise in busy times such as the lead-up to Black Friday / Cyber Monday or the holidays.

2. Shoutouts for Shoutouts

The name says it all: you swap shoutouts with another account, sometimes called S4S. It’s most commonly used for two accounts who serve a similar demographic and want to increase their followers. This is how it works: Account A features Account B, explaining why their followers would benefit from following Account B. Account B then does the same for Account A.

Sometimes this might be in the form of a caption or sometimes the form of a guest post, similar to guest blog posts. This is particularly effective, because it gives a taste of the value of the other account, maximising the chances of them gaining new followers.

3. Unpaid Shoutouts

Another type of shoutout that helps on Instagram for promotion is an unpaid or free shoutout. This is possibly the best kind of shoutout as it’s free and usually comes from someone being especially pleased with your service, product or account.

9 Tips To Get Free Shoutouts on Instagram

Given how helpful unpaid shoutouts can be for your online business, here are nine tips to start those shoutouts rolling in!

1. Creating Outstanding Content

Think about why an influencer might want to share your brand. Just like you, they want to share valuable content with their followers. If you create outstanding content that would serve their followers, it’s very possible they may share it and have a good word for you to go with it.

2. Find Similar Niche Accounts

You want to find accounts in the same niche as you, that post similar content or content that would benefit your followers. You want shoutouts between similar accounts – two accounts serving, say, ocean-loving communities or Miami-based vegans. Having similar audiences is key if you want to gain more Instagram followers. Here’s a shoutout from octopus fan account Octonation to the Aquarium of the Pacific, featuring one of their octopus videos.

An Instagram shoutout from one account to another in a similar niche.

3. Shining a light on other accounts

One way to get noticed by another account is by shining a light on them. You might share their content on your Stories, for instance, tagging them in case they want to re-share. You can also message them directly, which can be the start of building social media partnerships, where you might suggest a shoutout or other kind of collaborations.

4. Look For Accounts With The Same Number Of Followers

You’re most likely to succeed in getting free shoutouts from accounts that have a similar or slightly lower number of followers. While you could approach an account with 50,000 followers when you have 500 yourself, the odds are better with similar numbers on each account.

Example of two Instagram accounts with similar follower numbers in the same niche that might want to do a shoutout.

5. Building Relationships First

Increase the chances of receiving a free shoutout by giving first.

Follow the other account, engaging with their posts including valuable comments that support their point of view. You could even follow them on other platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

Once you are on their radar – and you are more sure the two of you are a good match – then you might want to contact them about a shoutout.

6. Listing Relevant Influencers

Another effective strategy for you is to list all the influencer marketing IG accounts that you need to contact. This will help you in getting more organized and provide clarity in choosing the right influencer for your online brand. You could even create a spreadsheet with the relevant details, making it easier for your outreach work.

7. Sending Your Products to Influencers

Although large influencers will usually require payment for sharing products, the right product that is going to be hugely interesting to their followers can bring a free shoutout. Equally, smaller influencers may be happy to share simply for free product.

Go in with an open mind, be polite and ready to contact many accounts for a few shoutouts.

8. Hashtags Research

Hashtags are a great way to find accounts with similar audiences and for you to be found by others. A Scandinavian homewares brand, for instance, might look for hashtags used by accounts with a similar aesthetic such as #simpleliving or #scandinavianstyle.
If you’re looking for similar accounts in your neighbourhood, look at the regional and community hashtags and local check-ins where your followers would visit.

An example of an Instagram post containing hashtags you might use to find others in your niche for a shoutout.

Hashtags are a significant element on Instagram, so there is no point in arguing whether to add them or not. It makes it easier for you to discover relevant accounts quickly and specific to your niche.

If you offer literature review help to college or university students, you can look for influencers in the education industry and be interested in availing your service.

By search with #researchhelp or #Literaturehelp or #academicwriting, you are likely to find pages related to your brand. What more you can do use hashtags that are location specific. If you own a travel agency and create travel packages, find people who are interested in exploring breathtaking places. Keep in mind that whenever you do hashtag research, the Instagram algorithm remembers it and recommends popular pages and hashtags to you.

In addition you search for #shoutouts4shoutouts and #shoutouts4free or #S4S to find accounts that offer free shoutouts. In my experience these aren’t most quality shoutouts you can get, but you might find relevant accounts to yours that you want to build relationships with.

9. Contacting Through DMs or Emails

Check the account’s profile to check how they prefer you to contact them – message or email. When you do contact them, make your message or email personal. Point out something about their account or them that makes you think they’re a good match.

Influencers small and large complain of receiving generic emails, often suggesting totally mismatched shoutouts or collaborations that don’t fit their demographics or interests. Don’t be that person! This is your chance to stand out from the crowd and show that you know and like their content.

Next Steps For Your Free Shoutouts

Did you like these tips? Put them to work for you by choosing three shoutout tasks you’re going to do in the next week or month so you can get more shoutouts and followers for your Instagram account.

Make sure you add a fourth task: bookmark this article and revisit it in a month to check on your progress!

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Johannes holds a Masters degree in Business IT. He has more than 7 years of experience in online marketing and holds certifications from Google. Additionally, has helped to develop several start-ups. He enjoys good food and feels slightly awkward talking about himself in third person.