Instagram Year in Review: Top Trends from 2016

2016 was the craziest year yet for Instagram, and we’ve compiled the best moments, biggest milestones, and the never-ending list of new Instagram features into our annual Instagram Year in Review! Read on to take a trip down memory lane, and see just how much Instagram has grown in a year. 

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Popular on Instagram in 2016

Who runs the world? Selena Gomez, apparently! 2016 crowned a new Queen of Instagram, with Selena beating out her bff Taylor Swift as the Most Followed Person on Instagram. But that’s not all: Selena’s sponsored post with Coca Cola broke the record for the Most Liked Photo on Instagram (a huge win for Instagram influencer marketing) and 9 of 10 most liked photos on Instagram in 2016 were by Selena! #untouchable

Not only is Selena Gomez the most followed person on Instagram, but she was also the first (and so far, only) person to gain more than 100 million followers! Her secret to Instagram marketing success? Selena insists that she doesn’t have a social media manager, and creates her Instagram posts herself.

“I try to find a good balance of just being 100 percent myself and knowing when to post a really good selfie with good lighting,” Selena told the Hollywood Reporter.  Selena gained almost half of her epic Instagram following in 2016, racking up over 50 million followers this year. She currently sits at 104 million followers, a cool 10 million ahead of Taylor Swift, who is second with 94 million.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Instagram Year in Review: @selenagomez wins most followed person + most liked photo for 2016!” quote=”Instagram Year in Review: @selenagomez wins most followed person + most liked photo for 2016!”]

Top Brands on Instagram in 2016

The three Most Followed Brands on Instagram in 2016 are the same as 2015, with Nike taking a tight lead over National Geographic with 67 million followers. [clickToTweet tweet=”The most-followed brands on Instagram for 2016 are @nike, @natgeo, & @victoriassecret.” quote=”The most-followed brands on Instagram for 2016 are @nike, @natgeo, & @victoriassecret.”]

The hashtag #VSCO, from everyone’s favorite photo-editing app, is still the most popular branded hashtag, and has been used over 100 million times! #VSCO has been hashtagged more than double the amount of times #OneDirection, which came in 2nd place again this year. Learn more: How #VSCO Became the Biggest Community on Instagram

[clickToTweet tweet=”#VSCO is the top branded Instagram hashtag of 2016, beating #OneDirection” quote=”#VSCO is the top branded Instagram hashtag of 2016, beating #OneDirection”]Top Instagram for Business Trend in 2016

By far, the biggest trend we saw on Instagram in 2016 for businesses was all about planning your Instagram feed. As Instagram evolves, so do our tastes: last year was all about getting away from Instagram filters and improving the quality of photos with other editing apps, and this year it’s all about stepping back from the individual photo and looking at “the feed” as a whole.

Instagram users are placing more and more importance on the aesthetic of their Instagram feed, which means that businesses should be caring about creating a cohesive, curated Instagram feed too. With Later’s new Visual Instagram Planner, you can easily preview your feed and re-arrange or swap out photos to find the perfect balance for your Instagram feed, before you post.

Free Visual Instagram Planner

Trending on Instagram in 2016: Quitting Instagram

Ironically, the most popular Instagram trend of the year was actually “quitting” Instagram. It all started when Justin Bieber, who was the most followed person on Instagram for years, suddenly deleted his Instagram account after a war of words with…you guessed it, the Queen of Instagram herself, Selena Gomez.

Since Justin’s abrupt departure, both celebrities and regular users alike have followed in his footsteps. Kim Kardashian is still on a complete social media hiatus after being robbed in Paris, Kendall Jenner deactivated her Instagram account for an “Instagram detox,” and Gigi Hadid took an Insta-break too.

Before you get worried that people will start quitting Instagram in droves, it’s important to note that so far, the only person to truly stick to their word of “quitting” has been Bieber. The trend of “quitting” Instagram is more like doing a “detox,” and in 2017, expect a lot more conversation around the amount of time people are spending on Instagram and how it is affecting our mental health.

New to Instagram in 2016

The biggest Instagram stories of 2016 were actually about Instagram itself. At the end of 2015, Instagram had won over the hearts of marketers, but it was still extremely difficult to manage an Instagram for Business account as the app lacked the major features that made Facebook marketing so successful.

In 2016, Instagram released over 20 features! The first half of year was focused on playing catch up as they rolled out basic tools that were essential for wanting to use Instagram for Business, while the second half of the year was focused on innovating Instagram and bringing some major changes to the app.

Not only did Instagram majorly “grow up” in 2016 with the addition of new business features and analytics, it also went back to it’s youthful and fun roots in order to compete with Snapchat’s growing popularity. Below is a look at the major changes we saw to Instagram this year.

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Manage Multiple Accounts (February 2016)

Instagram kicked off the year by releasing a much-needed feature: the ability to manage multiple Instagram accounts! Long gone are the days of manually logging in and out of Instagram accounts, and now we live in a world where you can easily switch between 5 Instagram accounts. This was also our first breaking story of the year, and Later’s newsletter subscribers were the very first to know of this feature!

Instagram Algorithm (March 2016)

OMG, the Instagram Algorithm! In March of 2016, all anyone was talking about what what the new Instagram algorithm would mean for your Instagram account. The algorithm was announced in a New York Times article, and was slowly rolled out to all Instagram users over the next few months. Users were not on board with this change, and a lot of them still aren’t, but at least now we know how to hack the Instagram algorithm.

Instagram Business Profiles & Analytics (May 2016)

Later was the first to break the news about Instagram’s New Business Profiles and Instagram Analytics in May of 2016, which may not be the most exciting Instagram features of the year, but they’re definitely the most practical. And those Instagram analytics on the demographics of your followers? Pretty much priceless.

A New Look for Instagram (May 2016)

Instagram revealed a new Instagram logo and complete app re-design in May, 2016 to mixed reviews. Some people hated the new logo, some were too attached to the old one, and most of us just don’t like change. Whether you loved it or hated it, chances are you have completely forgotten about it by now! One of my favorite Instagram reads of the year was this piece by Ian Spalter, head of Design at Instagram, about their creative re-branding process.

Instagram Stories & Live Video (August 2016)

Arguably the biggest change to Instagram in 2016 was the introduction of Instagram Stories, and later Instagram Live Video. A Snapchat-clone, Instagram Stories will only be getting bigger and more popular in 2017 as the social networks battle it out to be the story destination of choice. We have to say – this is definitely a feature we never would have predicted for 2016! Instagram Stories really shook up Instagram as a whole, and we’re excited to see where it goes next year. The coolest new feature for Instagram Stories? Instagram added clickable links for verified users, a trend that we’ll hopefully be seeing more of in 2017. 

That’s it! What a huge year for Instagram, marketers, and business owners alike, we can’t wait for what 2017 will bring!

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Source:, originally published on 2021-07-08 18:32:38