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Instagram Year in Review: The Biggest Moments from 2019

The 2010’s may just become known as the Instagram Decade: in just 9 years, Instagram has completely changed the world of commerce and had a profound effect on popular culture, politics, and technology.

Our annual Instagram Year in Review is here for 2019 to help you take a look back and see how much has changed in just this year alone.

With a record-breaking egg, the AR filter boom, and a controversial decision to start hiding likes on the platform, it’s been a seriously wild ride on Instagram this year.

Before we jump into a new decade, let’s reminisce over the highlights and biggest moments in our Instagram Year in Review 2019:

Instagram Year in Review: 2019 at a Glance

As 2019 comes to a close, it’s a good time to sit back and take note of what topped the charts on Instagram this year. 

Soccer sensation Cristiano Ronaldo held on to the top spot as the most followed personal account, and the National Geographic remained the most followed brand on Instagram (aside from Instagram itself) with a cool 126M followers!

While Ariana Grande knocked Selena Gomez off the most-followed female on Instagram spot, by a slim margin of just 6 million.  

Elsewhere, Kylie Jenner lost out to a stock photo of a humble egg — which overtook her post announcing the arrival of baby Stormi to become the most-liked post on Instagram ever. 

Not forgetting the viral trends, most popular hashtags, and filters that filled our feeds: 

So what does this tell us? Well, aside from a potential shift in popular culture, it shows that Instagram, and what people want from the platform, is changing. 

2019 has seen a shift towards authentic and mindful content, with a whole slew of new features to make Instagram Stories more instantaneous and engaging.

And it’s the celebrities who embrace these changes, like Ariana who posts to her feed multiple times every day, who are seeing the biggest growth in their follow count as a result. 

As a brand, there’s a lot to learn from the high-flying celebrities on Instagram and how their social strategy is paying off.

So, now that we’ve covered the top line stats, let’s go back to the beginning — from January 2019 to present day, and relive the Instagram trends that took over our feeds:  

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #1: World Record Egg Takes The Top Spot

When it comes to starting the year with a bang (or should that be crack?) the World Record Egg took us all by surprise in early January 2019.

This simple stock photo of a hen’s egg gained a whopping 28.3 million likes in just 10 days, knocking Kylie Jenner’s baby announcement post off the top spot and gaining international news coverage. 

Perhaps most interestingly, the account remained anonymous for almost a month — with the countdown to a grand reveal starting as the egg began to crack in Instagram posts throughout the end of January.   

So who was behind the mysterious egg?

Well on February 4th, during the Superbowl ad break, it was revealed that the egg was a promotion for TalkingEgg.info — a website highlighting a list of mental health support organizations by Mental Health America

The video, which has been watched over 38 million times, showed the egg cracking due to “the pressure of social media,” and encouraged viewers to talk to someone if they were struggling too. 

And as 2019 comes to a close, the World Record Egg still holds the title for the most-liked post on Instagram — making it one little egg that’s seriously hard to beat.

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #2: The #10YearChallenge Goes Viral

Instagram challenges pop up all the time, but very few reach the same fever pitch as the #10YearChallenge did in early 2019. 

Influencers, celebrities, and everyday Instagrammers alike jumped on this flashback trend, sharing their 10-year-old pics alongside a more recent one. 

Reese Witherspoon, Ellen Degeneres, Janet Jackson, Jessica Biel, Tyra Banks, Chance the Rapper, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, and Caitlin Jenner were amongst the hundreds of celebs who weighed in on this trend — which generated over 4 million posts in total. 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #3: Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper Inspire a Meme Trend

When Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took to the stage at the 91st Annual Academy Awards to perform “Shallow,” they likely didn’t know they were about to spark a viral meme trend.

But this is 2019, and their intense and emotional performance had just the right ingredients to land them straight into the meme hall of fame.

Within just hours of the ceremony, hundreds of meme posts were popping up all over the internet.

From funny text overlays to shocked reaction posts, Gaga and Cooper’s intimate performance was one of the hottest meme moments of 2019!

From homemade memes to the no-edit edit, discover where the Instagram Aesthetic is Heading in 2020 in this recent blog post

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #4: Instagram Rolls Out In-App Shopping 

In 2019, Instagram became a fully-fledged e-commerce platform — rolling out a new “checkout” feature to allow people to buy products without ever leaving the Instagram app! 

With more than a billion monthly active users and 2 million advertisers, it was only a matter of time before Instagram bridged the gap and introduced in-app shopping to the platform.

Instagram checkout is still in closed beta for a select number of businesses (including Zara, ColourPop, and Warby Parker) and is only available to people in the US at the moment.

While the checkout feature is still being rolled out, it’s a big indicator of what’s to come in 2020 – with Instagram’s shift to e-commerce likely to continue. 

Check out How to Make Money with Instagram Shoppable Posts for everything you need to know about creating a shoppable feed.

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #5: Beyoncé Sparks Dance Craze on Stories 

With over 135 million loyal followers, Beyoncé is no stranger to sparking viral crazes on Instagram. 

Following on from the “Single Ladies” dance phenomenon of the aughts, Beyoncé launched a dance challenge under the hashtag #BeforeILetGoChallenge this year on Instagram.

The challenge marked the release of her cover of “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly & Maze.

Beyoncé announced the challenge in her first ever Instagram story (alongside bee and heart-eyes emojis) and encouraged fans to submit their dance videos using the hashtag. 

She then shared dozens of clips of fans replicating the routine on her account, proving just how powerful user-generated content can be for building a sense of community on Instagram. 

In fact, UGC is so important when it comes to successfully marketing your business online, that Later has created some great tools and features to help you find, organize, and schedule user-generated content in minutes.

From easily finding content you’ve been tagged or mentioned in, to reposting content from your brand’s fans and loyal followers, Later has you covered!

 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #6: Instagram Unveils “Creator” Account

In April this year, Instagram caught everyone off-guard when they unveiled a whole new profile at their annual F8 conference — complete with a fresh new set of features!  

According to Instagram, the new creator account was specifically created to help content creators take more control of their accounts through custom features, such as flexible profile controls, simplified messaging, and more growth tools.

Creator Profile -- Hide Category and Contact

 

In 2019, Instagram brought more features to market than ever before to enable the creator community. And as influencer partnerships continue to replace traditional ad spend on the platform, it’s likely this trend will only continue to grow in 2020. 

Find out more about the Creator account (and whether you should make the switch) by reading this blog post! 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #7: Taylor Swift Shares Cryptic Countdown to “4.26”  

When it comes to causing a stir on social, no one does it quite like Taylor Swift

This time however, it was her cryptic countdown to “4.26” — the release date for her single “ME!” — that got everyone talking online.

View this post on Instagram

4.26

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

In the lead up to the big date, the singer shared a series of dreamy, ethereal posts on her Instagram feed.

Each post contained the same short and mysterious caption, “4.26,” sparking a tidal wave of intrigue from fans and followers alike. 

@taylorswift

And proving just how far ahead of the Instagram trends she is, Swift even released her own Instagram Stories AR filter “4.26” — complete with daily new effects for her fans to try out and share.

Needless to say, she had followers on the edge of their seats as they guessed what big reveal could be coming their way:

All in all, Swift’s cryptic countdown included a site rebrand, Instagram overhaul, custom Instagram Stories AR filter, and even an Instagram-ready wall mural in Nashville, Tennessee! 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #8: Instagram Releases New Stories Stickers  

2019 has been a huge year for new engagement-boosting features on Instagram, including Quiz, Chat, and Question stickers! 

These new interactive stickers are super effective tools for gaining more interactions from your audience on stories — which can also be a great way to boost your ranking with the Instagram algorithm

The Quiz sticker was first to launch in April, providing a new way to share fun multiple choice quizzes on stories.

In July, Instagram released the Chat sticker, which is a great tool for encouraging real, human chats.

With the Chat sticker, you can cherry-pick who joins your chat (up to 32 people), and lead a conversation on a topic that matters to you or your business goals. 

Instagram Stories Chat Sticker: Time Limit

While the Question sticker is a brilliant way to find out exactly what your audience wants to know — which can really help build a stronger connection between you and your audience online. 

Plus, you can easily answer questions and share them on your stories — closing the loop and providing a great interactive experience for your followers. 

All of these stickers have their own unique values for building community and encouraging audience participation — and we can’t wait to see what new stickers are in store for 2020!

Find out how to drive even more engagement from your Instagram Stories! Sign up below to get access to our FREE Instagram Stories for Business Course today: 

 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #9: Instagram Hides Like

Alongside making strides in e-commerce and audience engagement, Instagram also took some huge steps to safeguard the wellbeing of their users in 2019. 

The most groundbreaking of these steps was the decision to hide likes on the platform in a bid to “depressurize Instagram” and make it a space that’s more focused on connections, conversations, and community, especially for young people. 

This is easily Instagram’s biggest news of 2019, and it’s being met mostly with positive reactions, especially from celebrities.

Cardi B took to Instagram when the news broke to share her thoughts on the announcement: 

Likes have already been hidden for Instagram users in Canada, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and more recently the United States — and is likely to rollout further in the coming months.

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #10: The Bottle Cap Challenge Kicks Off

Perhaps the most bizarre viral challenge of 2019 was the bottle cap challenge, in which participants would attempt to knock the cap off a bottle with a single kick. 

It all started when Taekwondo fighter Farabi Davletchin posted his kick trick back in June, nominating action movie star Jason Statham to take the challenge and flex his martial arts skills.

With over 23 million views and counting, Statham kicked the trend into viral status — inspiring a whole host of celebrities to get in on the action. 

Ryan Reynolds used the opportunity to plug his gin company, Ellie Goulding did it for the girls, Justin Bieber cemented his feud with Tom Cruise, and Lizzo was as relatable as ever. 

View this post on Instagram

Challenge accepted! #bottlecapchallenge

A post shared by Mariah Carey (@mariahcarey) on

But it was Mariah Carey who arguably won the challenge in July — taking on the bottle cap with her fierce diva vocals alone. 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #11: Instagram AR Filters Go Mainstream

In August this year, Instagram finally opened it up so that anyone can create and upload augmented reality (AR) filters that can be used with the Instagram Stories camera!

This was a bold move by Instagram, as it essentially opened the floodgates for designers, creatives, and brands to share their AR filters. 

In fact, Instagram had to create a whole new “Effects Gallery” just to manage the huge influx of filters available on the app.

And for good reason. Having a successful filter can be a super accelerant for growth on the platform, with creators like Holy Mariia gaining over a million followers in a matter of months thanks to their viral AR effects.

To share a filter, users must create it in Spark AR Studio (a Facebook-owned AR tool) and get final approval from Instagram.

But just because a filter is approved at first doesn’t mean that it can’t be removed. Instagram recently banned a range of AR filters from the app that imitate cosmetic surgery — in light of concerns that they could harm a user’s mental health. 

Curious about how AR can work for your business? Discover 8 Brands Creating Custom Instagram Stories AR Filters!

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #12: Greta Thunberg Drives a Climate Revolution

When a 15-year-old Greta Thunberg first decided to go on a school strike to fight against climate change, little did she know that she was starting an international movement that would come to amass over 4 million participants.

Now 16, Thunberg has been on strike for over 65 weeks. She has been heralded as “the voice of a generation” by ID magazine, rallying young people all over the world to take a stand for climate action:

And we’re seeing the impact of Thunberg’s mission filtering all across Instagram — with brands being more vocal about their political stance on the platform than ever before. 

Mission-focused brands such as Patagonia and Lush Cosmetics have pioneered the way for brands in 2019, proving that having a strong agenda can be one of the most powerful assets in today’s increasingly conscious world. 

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #13: Instagram Reveals Create Mode for Stories 

With over 500 million people using Instagram Stories every single day in 2019, it’s no surprise that Instagram continues to unveil new and exciting features.

In October, Instagram launched an updated Instagram Stories camera, which included a brand new “Create” mode for users to explore.

Packed full of engagement-boosting tools and a cool new GIF layout, Instagram’s Create mode has been a game-changer for creating quick and interactive content — without having to source new content.

From pre-populated questions and templates to sharing an Instagram throwback, you can now post and engage with your audience with just a few taps.

Looking to learn more about Create mode? Find out How to Use the New Instagram Stories Camera now!

Instagram Year in Review 2019 #14: Jennifer Aniston & “Friends” Break Instagram

And finally, no 2019 top moments list would be complete without Jennifer Aniston’s spectacular entry to Instagram.

Aniston announced her Instagram debut by posting a photo with former Friends co-stars Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc: 

Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “we were on a break,” the post generated so much activity that it caused an Instagram glitch — with some fans temporarily unable to follow Aniston’s account. 

But even despite the issue, Aniston broke the world record for the fastest growing Instagram account, reaching 1 million followers in just 5 hours and 16 minutes.

“I swear I didn’t mean to break it…” Aniston wrote in her second post. “Thank you guys for the kind, glitchy welcome.”

And that’s it! From viral challenges and social movements to groundbreaking new features, 2019 has been a huge year on Instagram.

Ready to get ahead of all the social media trends in 2020? Sign up to the Later email newsletter now:

 

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Written By

Jillian Warren

Jillian is a content marketer at Later based in the UK. She is an aficionado of London brunch spots and an avid listener of true crime podcasts. You can connect with her on Instagram @jillwrren.