They are the names everyone knows, the crème de la crème of the Instagram world: the top 10 influencers on Instagram. Anyone talking about success on Instagram won't be able to get past their names. Which makes it all the more interesting to take a look together at who's actually behind the ten names that have more influence online and offline than almost anyone else.
Place 0: Instagram (385 million)
If we look at it closely, the most successful account on Instagram: the Instagram account. With over 385 million followers, it currently holds the undisputed #1 spot on the list
However, we decided to give it the separate rank of 0, because let's face it, since there is no single person behind the account, but the company that provides the platform, the significance of the follower count is somewhat limited. Still, it would be wrong not to mention it at all.
Place 1: Cristiano Ronaldo (259 million)
Among football fans, the battle for football supremacy may be fought every day between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. But on Instagram, this question doesn't even arise, as Ronaldo is not only the most successful footballer on Instagram, he's actually ranked #1 on all accounts.
Why is it that he reaches such incredible follower numbers? Well, for starters, he has the advantage that his notoriety exists outside of the platform, and he was even a superstar long before Instagram was founded (in 2010)So he's got a lot of followers.
This is not only thanks to his performances on the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo integrated himself as an advertising figure early on and created a real personal brand out of "CR7". Not only does every football fan know his name, but through collaborations, advertising deals and television appearances he ensures that he is known to virtually everyone in the world - which of course does not mean that everyone would therefore like him.
However, those who follow him on Instagram because he is a fan get to see pictures on the account from the dressing room, from the pitch, from advertising partners, and indeed from his private life. Ronaldo posts several pictures a week, which always include one of his wife, his children or his family in general.
Place 2: Ariana Grande (219 million)
Another superstar of the offline world has also made it to true fame on our favorite picture platform, Ariana Grande. The singer started her career as a Disney child launch, but just didn't slow down after that
With her impressive voice, she has broken record after record in the music world and can now call herself the recipient of numerous awards such as the Billboard Award and the Grammy.
She adorns her Instagram account mainly with references to her music and, of course, selfies. From time to time, a private photo with friends can also be found. However, the picture captions tend to stay a bit shorter, but that doesn't seem to bother fans as they continue to follow her and Ariana is certainly nowhere near the top of the follower count.
Place 3: Dwayne The Rock Johnson (215 million)
All-round talent Dwayne The Rock Johnson has now broken a magical barrier on Instagram: He's among the platform's biggest accounts. He's built his fanbase over decades through his wrestling career, his fitness hype and his acting roles.
It's all the nicer to see that he's currently incredibly active on Instagram. Almost daily, he posts pictures of his new series Young Rock, photos of his family, or - and this is what he's known for - short videos and pictures from the gym.
Unlike the very finely designed accounts of Ariana or Cristiano, The Rock's account looks a bit chaotic. Pictures, videos, screenshots - everything gets jumbled up here, and his fans seem to love it.
Place 4: Kylie Jenner (213 million)
In fourth place, we find for the first time someone who can arguably link much of her success directly to Instagram: Kylie Jenner. As part of the so-called Kardashian clan, she received early attention on television, but she's made it to worldwide fame largely through a clever social media strategy.
In 2019, Forbes estimated her net worth at circa $1 billion - at the time, she was just 21 years old. On Instagram, fans can usually see her in perfect selfie form and sunny locations. Her daughter Stormi is also part of the feed, getting almost as many likes as her famous mum at a very young age.
Place 5: Selena Gomez (208 million)
Disney star, music idol, Instagram queen: Selena Gomez has well and truly earned her spot in the top 10. At just 28 years old, she's already made her mark in many areas of the entertainment industry as a producer, actress, musician, philanthropist (including for UNICEF), and social media icon.
So while she has an impressive career to her name even without Instagram, she even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records via the platform as the first person on Instagram with over 100 million followers - but that's snow from 2016, these days she has more than twice that many people following her.
Place 6: Kim Kardashian (203 million)
Just two spots behind her little (half-)sister can be found Kim Kardashian. She is considered one of the first people to surf the hype wave of the social media world, and to this day, her steady rise continues.
On her account, her followers get to admire glossy photos and promotional collaborations, but her family life and some older snaps are also included. Each of her posts receives more than 1 million likes, often topping 6 million.
Place 7: Lionel Messi (181 million)
The third man on this list is another footballer of all the highest order: Lionel Messi. The 33-year-old Argentine, who currently plays for FC Barcelona in Spain, is still considered by many football fans to be the best player in the world - but let's not start that argument here now.
He's definitely high up the rankings on Instagram, because even if he hasn't cracked the magic 200 million mark yet, he's still likely to be one of the most valuable accounts with his 181 million followers. He shares some impressions from the football world there, but also uses his account to share private snapshots or to highlight charities.
Place 8: Beyoncé (164 million)
While arguably every star on this list is appreciated by their fans offline, Beyoncé is another case altogether. Because it's not just the average Instagram follower who wants to shake her hand once, even real superstars turn back into little superfans when they meet Beyoncé. She's virtually considered an uber-celebrity, especially in the US, hovering over everything.
Her Instagram account is usually very neat and orderly, which is why there isn't always the greatest closeness between her and her followers. But that doesn't mean it's not worth following her: She's an advocate for women's and black rights, and she espouses the values of the body positivity movement on her account.
Place 9: Justin Bieber (161 million)
From day one of his career, Justin Bieber was considered a controversial figure. His Bieber haircut was a cultural phenomenon. His music continues to reach millions of people around the world today. His antics have graced and continue to grace the covers of countless tabloids. No matter how you feel about him, his success speaks for itself.
His Instagram account doesn't seem quite as highly polished as some of the other stars on this list. Sometimes he posts promo photos, sometimes a picture of his current work, and sometimes he shares news about his religious beliefs. So Bieber fever has yet to end, even 12 years after his first released single.
Place 10: National Geographic (151 million)
Quite narrowly, National Geographic's Instagram channel still makes the top 10. This does especially well because this isn't about a single famous person, but rather the wonderful project behind the account.
National Geographic's mission is to educate anyone who is open to it about our world. Their documentaries on the National Geographic Channel are legendary and their magazine is published both online and still in print.
The beautiful photos shared on the Instagram account are always accompanied by further information about the subject and the photographer or photographers themselves. Thus, followers share in many different stories. An excellent counterexample to anyone accusing Instagram accounts of superficiality - Instagram is always what you make of it.
All the numbers have been verified on 04/02/2021, but surely the top 10 most successful Instagram accounts will visibly change again soon. Waiting in the wings at positions 11 to 20 are more football stars, members of the Kardashian family and up-and-coming artists.