Why Taylor Swift overtook Kim Kardashian on Instagram

Taylor’s kittens, jumpers and gal pals are just more appealing to Instagram’s female teenage users than Kim’s 9,576th selfie. And as for the ‘waist trainer’ …

This week it was announced that something seismic had happened in popular culture. The long-reining queen of Instagram, with 45.7 million followers, had been eclipsed. Kim Kardashian’s feed – which even spawned a coffee-table book of selfies, called Selfish – was overtaken by Taylor Swift. The singer now boasts 45.8 million followers, and she only took 689 posts – a mixture of on-tour shots, faux-candid images of her hanging out with her many famous pals, and videos of her cat – to get there, compared with Kim, who is at 3,061 and counting. So how did she do it? Let’s filter out the truth.

Kittens and sweaters are more appealing than duckface and cleavage

Kim Kardashian’s Instagram is a dark rabbit hole of goth maternity wear, blurry party scenes and copious cleavage shots. Taylor’s account, on the other hand, is much more wholesome. In her feed you’ll find kittens, sweaters, nail art and photos of her friends during sleepover parties – in other words it’s totally in tune with the preoccupations of Instagram’s biggest group of users: teenage girls. OK, admittedly the bitchy might call it basic.

The subtle, yet powerful appeal of mom-dancing

A celebrity Instagram account that doesn’t leave the viewer feeling terrible about her impossible lack of proximity to the glamorous life is rare. Thanks to Taylor’s dorkiness and awkward, lanky-armed dance moves, hers is the exception.

Taylor knows how to cut an enticing video …

Swift’s fans live in an eternal state of thirst to know more about her life, and she knows just how to quench it. The short videos she posts regularly give viewers a brief glimpse at her life behind the scenes – naturally, without giving away too many genuinely intimate details.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of dorky activity she’s doing (in the video below she’s on what looks to be some kind of Easter egg hunt), it’s more that she mixes up what she shows to her fans. Kim offers 10 photos of her face looking exactly the same – except in one she might have her tongue out.



A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

… and Kim could use a photography lesson

Kim’s selfies are, according to one book publisher at least, works of art. Her Instagram is so devoted to photos of her face that it feels like a science project on the ageing process. Yet monotonous as they are, photos of her face is what Kim does best – by a long way. Part of the allure of Kimstagram is getting a peak inside her ridiculously lavish lifestyle, but the non-selfies are grainy, blurry and generally of the backs of people’s heads.

Taylor’s cat, Olivia Benson, is adorable

And Instagrammers are nothing if not cat people.


Coming Home to Mixed Reactions - a short film

A video posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Kim’s feed needs more Caitlyn

Taylor might have Lena Dunham, Calvin Harris, Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne but Kim Kardashian has the ultimate trump card in her back pocket: Caitlyn Jenner. If she wants to retain her crown as queen of Instagram, might we suggest leaving Kylie and Khloé and the rest of the Kardashian sisters out of shot for a while and spending some time crafting some selfies with Cait?


Great day yesterday for Father's Day. We had so much fun off-roading. So much love and support! Love my family!

A photo posted by Caitlyn Jenner (@caitlynjenner) on

The whole ‘waist training’ thing was a problem

It’s not surprising that both Taylor or Kim use their millions of followers to make some extra cash. Product placement on Instagram seems inevitable. But the whole waist training thing – where Kim promoted a weird corset – really threw this viewer off. It was pretty gross watching a fully adult woman squeeze her body into an unnatural shape – and worse, encouraging others to do it too.


I'm really obsessed with waist training! Thank you @premadonna87 for my new waist shapers! #whatsawaist

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

But at least there’s Nori

The world may be becoming tired of boobs, lips and heavy-lidded pouting – but Kim’s feed contains one true star. Let there be more Nori. Whether posing as a moody soccer player or a bad-ass ballerina, Kimye’s daughter has the kind of sass that Taylor Swift can only dream of.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ruth Spencer, for theguardian.com on Thursday 10th September 2015 16.44 Europe/London