Instagram Year in Review: 2015

A lot happened on Instagram this year: an Insta-famous teen quit social media with a bang, you can now post portrait and landscape photos to your feed, and Taylor Swift ousted Kim Kardashian as the reigning Queen of Instagram. Take a look back on the popular, iconic, and most viral Instagrams of 2015 with our Latergramme Year in Review:yearinreview

Viral Instagram

2015 was the rise of the Instagram Influencer, but it also led to three viral sensations that called into question the reality of what we choose to share. Here are the top three viral Instagram trends of 2015:

1. Socality Barbie

What started out as an inside joke in small “Instagrammer” circles became a viral hit after Wired’s article “Hipster Barbie Is So Much Better At Instagram Than You.” @socalitybarbie gained 1 million+ followers seemingly overnight until she “quit social media” at the height of her popularity. Which brings us to…

2. Essena O’Neil


This Australian teen (with over 600,000 followers) claimed to make her living from being a famous Instagram model, until she quit social media with an Instagram exposé that was a viral sensation. Essena changed her Instagram account to “Social Media is Not Real,” deleting the majority of her photos and editing captions on the rest to describe what really goes into making an Instagram photo that gets tens of thousands of likes. She has since deleted her Instagram account, but the infamy lives on.

3. Instagram Husbands

The popularity of Socality Barbie and Essena O’Neill called into question just how “authentic” all of our Instagram posts really are, which culminated in this parody video about what it’s like to be married in the age of Instagram. “Instagram Husbands” quickly went viral, as everyone laughed at their own tendencies to take photos of their latte before actually drinking it.

Iconic Instagram of 2015

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then sometimes a single Instagram post is able to tell the whole story. Here are three iconic Instagrams from 2015:

1. Peace for Paris 

Peace for Paris

A photo posted by @jean_jullien on

The “peace for Paris” illustration by Instagram user @jean_jullien quickly became a symbol of hope and solidarity after the Paris attacks on November 13th, with thousands of users and celebrities re-gramming the image and tagging #jesuisparis.

2. “Call Me Caitlyn”

Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world with an iconic Vanity Fair cover, and as the image was shared worldwide, she quickly gained millions of followers on her new Instagram account, @caitlynjenner. Formerly Bruce, Caitlyn’s transformation raised unprecedented awareness of transgender rights and garnered her a nomination for Time’s Person of the Year.

3. Baltimore Riots 


During the Baltimore riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, amateur photographer Devin Allen posted this powerful image to Instagram. The photo, which depicted escalating racial tensions in the US, was picked up by Time Magazine for their cover, and was shared by media companies across the country.

Popular on Instagram

Here’s a look at the most popular content on Instagram in 2015, from Kendall Jenner’s record-breaking selfie to the branded hashtag that’s more popular than One Direction.

Most Liked Photo: Kendall Jenner’s Heart Hair

A photo posted by Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner) on

Not only the most liked photo of the year, but the most liked photo ever, supermodel Kendall Jenner stole the show with this sweet selfie.

Most Used Hashtag: #LOVE

For the third year in a row, #love was the only hashtag you needed in 2015.

Most Followed Account: Taylor Swift

Shake it off, Kim Kardashian: 2015 was the year of Taylor Swift, who is now the reigning queen of Instagram with over 59 million followers.  

Selena Gomez comes in at #2 with over 56 million followers, and Kim beat out Beyonce for the #3 spot, with over 54 million followers. 

Most Followed Brands: National Geographic, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret

No other brands come close to these three Instagram superpowers, who have more followers than most celebrities!

National Geographic is at the top with over 39 million followers, while Nike has over 31 million followers and Victoria’s Secret has over 28 million.

Most Used Branded Hashtag: #VSCO

Not even One Direction can compete with the photo editing app VSCO, who’s popular tag #VSCO has been used over 74 million times on Instagram (#OneDirection is in second with 54 million).

New on Instagram:

With new filters, features, ads, and apps, 2015 was a big year for Instagram. Congratulations to the Instagram community (all 400,000,000+ of you) on an amazing year. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016!

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

New Apps: The Layout app is an easy way to make photo collages while Boomerang is Instagram’s app for GIF-making.

New Features: The biggest change to Instagram in 2015 was the introduction of portrait and landscapes photos, in addition to posting in square format.

Other highlights: The new search and explore page made Insta-creeping much more fun, Instagram videos now play on a loop, everyone got updated web profiles, and you can now hashtag emoji! #🍾

And we can’t forget the rollout of Instagram’s ad platform, which we’re predicting will be the biggest change (and challenge!) for Instagram marketers in 2016.

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Written By

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Head of Marketing at Later. She was named a LinkedIn Top Voice for social media marketing, and you can follow her writing on LinkedIn or connect with her on Instagram at @taylor.loren.