So who exactly are the top Instagram influencers today? And what can we learn from them?
There’s no question that being an influencer can be very competitive, especially in popular niches. Fortunately, both marketers and influencers alike can learn from the big names. In fact, careful study helps reveal why they are so successful. Marketers can use this information to help them decide which less-famous influencers are likely to have a big impact. Likewise, influencers can learn how to be better at what they do. For both sides, Instagram’s mega influencers are great role models in the marketing industry in this Age of Influence.
There can never be one definitive list of top Instagram influencers, so I focused on those that seem to be picked up more often than others in the media or blogosphere as well as those that I know from word of mouth in marketing circles.
Note that these top Instagram influencers are not traditional celebrities. If you look at many lists of top influencers, they will include famous sports athletes, musicians, or television and media personalities. I am focused on those influencers who primarily derive their influence from social media, and not traditional media, although many have now become bonafide media celebrities.
Now let’s take a look at some of these influencers. And if your favorite influencer is missing, please drop a comment below! Thanks!
The beauty industry as a whole is very diverse. People of all cultures have different ideas about what is beautiful. In addition, different skin and hair types, as well as diverse coloring, influence what beauty products do well on which people. Add to this the role of personal preferences, and you have lots of room for differences. There’s a lot to learn from top influencers about how to be successful.
Huda Kattan (48.1 million followers)
Huda didn’t start out as JUST an Instagrammer. Rather, she is a makeup artist and blogger, positioning her as a subject matter expert. She is also known for her exotic beauty, derived from her Iraqi heritage. After college, she started a beauty blog, which then developed into an Instagram account and makeup line. She has also worked as a celebrity makeup artist and stylist for Revlon.
James Charles (25.1 million followers)
Sometimes controversial and often imitated, James Charles was the first male spokesmodel for Cover Girl. His Instagram account features a lot of makeup done in vibrant colors: among his specialties is eye shadow done in different colors on each eye. The biggest thing that sets James Charles apart is his ability to exude confidence while not taking himself too seriously.
Manny Gutierrez (4.1 million followers)
Like James Charles, Manny is known for being fearless. Having been a brand ambassador for Maybelline, he has started a makeup line called Lunar Beauty. On his Instagram, however, Gutierrez talks about more than just makeup, touching on issues relevant to the gay community.
Fashion & Style Influencers
Another competitive niche, fashion and style influencers are very diverse. With a wide variety of backgrounds and personal brands, these influencers have a lot to teach us.
Chiara Ferragni (22.2 million followers)
Ferragni is known for having started out with an award-winning fashion blog. Like many mega-influencers, she has her own fashion house, including shoes and apparel. On her Instagram, Ferragni talks about her family and even posted ultrasound pictures recently. In other words, she shows how women can be both beautiful and a working mom.
Alexa Chung (4.1 million followers)
Chung is a mixed-race British fashion model. Later on, she started a blog and then launched a fashion line. Besides having her own label, Chung still works as a model in the British fashion industry. She is a quintessential career woman, but still has time to post vacation pictures on Instagram.
Mariano di Vaio (6.2 million followers)
An Italian actor and model, di Vaio has been brand ambassador for several major fashion houses. He is also a family man, showing off his wife and children on Instagram. An added part of his niche is adding inspirational captions on his post, making the account an uplifting place.
Julia Berolzheimer (1.2 million followers)
Julia is a family-oriented fashion influencer. On her account, she shows off her family and the fun to be had with holiday decorations. She did start a fashion brand, but this failed due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, she shows that you can be a fashion icon and a mom at the same time.
Aimee Song (5.6 million followers)
Gigi Hadid (61.5 million followers)
Bella Hadid (36.5 million followers)
Sister to Gigi, Bella was named the 2016 Model of the Year. As such, she has worked for many high fashion brands such as Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger and Miu Miu. Bella is also known for liking horses and getting involved in political action.
Sommer Ray (25.6 million followers)
Sommer is a well-known model under 30 from Colorado. Besides modeling for other brands, she has an activewear label of her own. Her Instagram has an inspirational feel and is geared towards women.
Barbara Palvin (15.4 million followers)
Barbara is a model best known for being a Victoria’s Secret Angel. In addition, she works for Amazon Fashion and has done a few acting gigs. Unlike some other influencers, she does not have her own fashion label. In addition, she does some beauty-related posts.
Food is arguably one of the oldest niches for influencers. This is not surprising, because food-related blogs and newspaper columns have been around for a long time. In addition, there is significant competition in some parts of the food industry. Throw in the special needs diets, and you have quite a diverse topic.
Jamie Oliver (8.4 million followers)
Jamie is a British professional chef and TV personality. He shares pictures of recipes and promotes healthy, locally-produced food. Other snaps feature Oliver teaching his children how to cook. This family focus has a wide appeal and contributes to his popularity. Finally, he once owned a restaurant chain before it went bankrupt in 2019.
David Chang (1.6 million followers)
Salt Bae (31.7 million followers)
Salt Bae is the nickname of a Turkish butcher and restauranteur. He has a famous luxury steakhouse in the Boston area, and is known for his meat seasoning techniques. On Instagram, he shows off his techniques and also posts lifestyle photos.
Admittedly, the “lifestyle” niche is relatively broad. However, what sets it apart is the willingness of influencers to share their entire lives with people on social media. This is analogous to being a personality or public figure. Because of this, you’ll see them partner with a wide variety of brands.
Joanna Gaines (12.8 million followers)
Joanna is a family woman who owns two stores in Waco, Texas. The stores sell a wide variety of gift, home décor and fashion items. She has also written a book. Joanna shares her family on Instagram, and shows off her cooking and garden.
Rosanna Pansino (4.4 million followers)
Like some other lifestyle influencers, Rosanna has more than one platform where she is famous. In fact, her YouTube channel is famous. There, she does a lot of recipe tutorials. Other topics include pets (she’s a dog lover), fashion, fitness, and her wedding.
Lilly Singh (9.6 million followers)
Carlinhos Maia (20.9 million followers)
Carlinhos is a gay Brazilian who loves to travel. Besides travel pictures, he shows off his cooking skills, TV appearances, and time spent with his significant other. Finally, he is involved in social justice projects in his native land.
Since Instagram is a photography-focused social network, it’s almost surprising that there aren’t more photography influencers on this list. However, it is probably indicative of the subject matter choices for most Instagrammers.
Murad Osmann (3.8 million followers)
Murad is a professional photographer from Dagestan, Russia. With the famous FollowMeTo series, he distinguished himself as a travel-themed photographer. For that reason, he and his wife Nataly are also considered travel influencers. His pictures are absolutely breathtaking.
Here’s a popular topic for a lot of people who want to keep in shape. In addition, fitness personalities tend to have a large following. Instagram influencers are no exception to this rule.
Kayla Itsines (12.7 million followers)
Kayla is an Australian personal trainer and developer of a zero-equipment fitness program. She also has a pregnancy fitness program. Besides fitness tips, Kayla talks about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Finally, she talks about the importance of taking care of yourself and having a support system. Being a woman in a very male-dominated profession is inspiring to many.
Simeon Panda (7.3 million followers)
Simeon is a world-renowned fitness expert and body builder. He loves to show pictures of himself working out and showcasing his muscles. Simeon has won body building titles. In addition, he collaborates with fitness supplement makers. Besides this, he has a fitness clothing brand.
While this year has been awful for traveling, that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to do it again. In fact, people enjoy seeing new places and things. Even if we can’t do it ourselves, we enjoy watching other people have fun. To that end, many people follow travel influencers.
Jack Morris (2.6 million followers)
Jack, known on Instagram as @DoYouTravel, and his wife love to travel to exotic places, and they take stunning pictures. Recent destinations include Egypt, Indonesia, and Abu Dhabi. As an influencer, he works with different brands in the hospitality industry, both here and abroad. In addition, you’ll see him promote items like drones that can take pictures.
Here, I am referring to people who started out on TikTok, or who became famous there at some point. Their Instagram following is in addition to their TikTok influencer marketing activities.
Addison Rae (32.8 million followers)
Addison is best known for her TikTok dance videos but has a strong following on Instagram. Besides this, she has a podcast with her mother. Addison has appeared on the Ellen show, and is known on Instagram for her fashion and beauty-themed pictures. Some of her collabs include Aeropostale and Disney, so she’s a big deal.
Charli d’Amelio (35.4 million followers)
Charli is a 16-year-old dance sensation. She has appeared in commercials, one of which was shown during the Super Bowl. Like Addison, Charli has connections to Disney. Recent collaborations include clothing brand Hollister.
Zach King (24.1 million followers)
Zach is famous for his optical illusion or “magic” videos. In addition, he posts relatively silly videos such as snorkeling in his bathtub during the COVID-19 California beach closures. Another sketch has him looking for spare change to feed a parking meter. Overall, he is popular in part because of his sense of humor.
Pewdiepie (21.6 million followers)
Pewdiepie is one of the most famous YouTubers of all time. A Swedish gamer and comedian, Pewdiepie got famous by reviewing video games. On his Instagram, he does a lot of lifestyle posts, including several with his wife. Many of his recent posts show a sense of humor about current events, including shots where he’s wearing a mask. In short, his Instagram magic fomes from making people laugh. The gaming stuff stays on YouTube.
David Dobrik (14.4 million followers)
David is known for his vlog on YouTube, which features all kinds of silly pranks and inside jokes. In addition, he’s an animal lover and plays this to the hilt. Hop over to his Instagram, and you’ll see David not taking himself too seriously. However, that isn’t to say he doesn’t do serious things like collaborate with brands or appear on late night television.
AuronPlay (12.9 million followers)
Also known as Raul Genes, AuronPlay is a Spanish YouTuber and Instagram personality. He is known on YouTube for his satire and commentary on current events or other people’s content. On Instagram, he showcases his sense of humor. In addition, AuronPlay does a lot of branded content for food and similar products.
Ajey Nagar (10.5 million followers)
Known on Instagram as @carryminati, Ajey has two channels on YouTube in addition to his Instagram account. One YT channel shows off his sense of humor while he comments on current events and celebrities. Hailing from India, Ajey is primarily an internet personality without another career. His channels are in Hindi. On Instagram, most of the pictures are various selfies and advertisements for appearances in real life.
Instagram is the favorite social media platform for influencers. And, as a result, it is important for marketers to know who is who in terms of the top Instagram influencers order to market successfully. This is true both in terms of finding people to work with and predicting who might be successful. At the same time, up and coming or aspiring influencers do well to study people like this. Not only does it help them know what kind of content succeeds, but also provides insights into personal branding.
So who’d I miss? Who should I consider in my next list revision? Please let me know!
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash