Who Is the Most Popular Superstar on Instagram?

[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

Three pop culture princesses take the gloves off.

Those who Insta together stay together.

Being blessed with a beautiful voice or mega acting chops isn’t enough to go down in pop stardom history nowadays. Nope. Those who make it real big get there by sacrificing a little more than a slice of their private life. In this social era, stars are almost required to share most of themselves with their fans and other unforgiving onlookers on pretty much every single platform that exists.

Thank you, social media. Thank you, Instagram.🙏

Let’s be real, Insta is kind of a voyeur’s curious person’s dreams, amiright? It makes total sense that celebrities have embraced it to further bring their devotees into their world. Not only does it allow them to always have a presence and remain on people’s radars without promoting anything specific, but it also gives them to control their own message. Think about it: if Lindsay Lohan wasn’t on Instagram, we probably would have forgotten her name by now. But I digress.

Celebs are already larger than life, but a platform like Insta renders them both even more otherworldly and somehow accessible, all at once. Funny enough, the top Instagram accounts by individuals on the entire platform belong to pop starlets. Whether they’re the best Instagram accounts is up for debate, but they certainly are the most famous. They belong to:

  1. Selena Gomez, at roughly 110M followers.
  2. Ariana Grande, at roughly 105M followers.
  3. Taylor Swift, at roughly 102M followers.

Those numbers are completely insane, right? The thing is, it’s one thing to be followed by hundreds of millions of people, and it’s another for your content to actually resonate with them — the true barometer of popularity, in our humble opinion. Do people actually care for all those Ariana Grande selfies? A famous Instagram account doesn’t automatically mean that it’s proportionately killing the competition (more on that later).

For that reason, we resolved to find out the real truth and nothing but the truth. By digging into the backend of those three accounts, we were able to determine which one of these royal members of pop culture is actually the most popular. Looking through all those Selena Gomez photos was a tough task, but someone had to do it. 😏

Without further ado, here’s the deep dive on Instagram’s most followed.

1. Follower Count

We’ve already determined that out of our three megastars, Selena Gomez wins the audience size competition. Pin it on her cherubic mug or on her conspicuous liaisons with high-profile leading men, but she unequivocally takes home the gold on this metric. Despite having copped to no longer running her account.

2. Average Engagement Rate

Selena Gomez — 4.26%

Ariana Grande — 1.08%

Taylor Swift — 0.7%

Selena’s in the lead again on this KPI. This is both surprising and not. It is because we’ve observed that the bigger the account, the lower the engagement rate. While these are all insanely huge — top 3 huge — Selena’s is akin to that of a hyper-focused micro-influencer. In short, her average engagement rate is very high by most standards, let alone for someone who’s at the very top of the pyramid.

Ariana’s 1.08% makes complete sense. It’s not terrible because it doesn’t begin with a zero, but it’s not supergreat. Her followers don’t appear to be that engaged… Taylor is a bit of a different story. She’s been flying under the radar for the past few months and that transpires on her Insta as well. Her activity has been very minimal, a far cry from her squad-heavy 4th of July shindig a couple summers back…

Verdict: Selena wins.

3. Average Likes per Post

Selena Gomez —3,988,352

Ariana Grande —1,117,791

Taylor Swift — 812,576

This metric isn’t that representative of success because it tends to be directly correlated to account size. The bigger the audience, the more the likes, it’s simple math. When converting these numbers to a ratio, they sometimes lose their luster. But miz Gomez’ likes are more than double those of G-unit’s and T-swifty’s, leaving them trailing in a cloud of sparkly dust, no doubt.

Verdict: Selena wins.

4. Weekly Growth Rate

Selena Gomez — 0.69%

That’s an average of 808,998 new followers per week.

Ariana Grande— 0.59%

That’s an average of 614,254 new followers per week.

Taylor Swift — 0.41%

That’s an average of 418,039 new followers per week.

Well here is yet another surprise. Selena, who already stakes her claim as the most followed individual on the ‘Gram, is STILL growing at a faster pace than those below her on the volume spectrum. That’s kind of crazy! Who could possibly be left in the Insta galaxy to convert?! What’s not shocking, however, is Taylor’s slow growth. Her infrequent posting makes her account a less interesting one to follow.

Verdict: Selena wins.

5. Best Performing Content

We define best performing by looking at the engagement rate of a particular piece of content, not the amount of likes, since it doesn’t account for the ratio. Let’s take a look at all three of our ladies’ top performing content, aka the posts on which they received the most engagement.

No surprise here, as all three of the Instagram stars’ top performing posts of all time follow their respective engagement rate orders. But Selena’s top pic is almost double that of the other two starlets. Can you say crushed it?! Not only is she killing the competition, but she also makes an appearance in T-Swift’s top performing image. I meannnnn.

Verdict: Selena wins.

6. Most Popular Content

We’re defining popularity here solely based on volume of likes. Let’s take a look.

So here’s the dealio: Ariana’s most liked Instagram post of all time also yielded her highest engagement, but the Selena Gomez selfie dominates yet again! Her top liked pic received more than double the likes of her comrades, plus she makes another cameo in Taylor’s most popular post… which is likely why it’s her most popular, let’s face the music.

Verdict: Selena wins.

* * *

The results are in and they are crystal clear:

Selena wins. Wait, scratch that, she kills the competition. Hold up, she annihilates it. Crushing in absolutely every single category, even helping to boost the content that isn’t even her own. The time has come to put all skepticism aside: Selena Gomez is undoubtedly ready to graduate from princess to queen. 👑

If you want to get stats like this for your brand’s account, get in touch today.