Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
4 minute read
24 Dec 2021
2:19 pm

1 billion likes in 2021 – These are Instagram’s biggest stars for 2021

Kaunda Selisho

It looks like Instagram has become a footballers' playground, as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi top the popularity lists.

Football star Cristiano Ronaldo. Picture: Instagram

Despite popular sentiment that Instagram is no longer enjoyable to use because it “just isn’t the same” anymore, the app seems to still be a hit for many.

And though Meta saw it fit to do away with the public like counts, one website has managed to determine the most popular accounts of the year according to the number of likes they amassed on their posts over the last 12 months. 

Bestnine is a website that allows you to ”immediately” find popular Instagram posts each year and this year, they compiled a list of Instagram users who had a good year on the app based on the likes they managed to garner.  

“Since Bestnine became first public in 2015, there have been about 100 million #bestnine pictures created as of December 2021,” explained the site, which allowss any user with a publicly viewable Instagram account to create their own collage of their most popular images of the year. 

Here are the top six Instagram users of 2021 according to the number of likes their posts got this year. 

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo best nine Instagram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

The popular footballer has 192,983,574 (over 192 million) followers and he managed to get 1,507,682,453 (over 1.5 billion) likes on 280 posts in 2021. 

2. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s best nine Instagram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

With 164,649,574 (over 164 million) followers ‘@therock’ got 1,183,269,391 (over 1.1 billion) likes on 679 posts in 2021.

3. Leo Messi

Leo Messi
Leo Messi’s best nine Instagram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

Professional Argentinian footballer Messi – as he is popularly known – has 138,567,278 (over 138 million) followers. His account ‘@leomessi’ got 696,165,772 (over 696 million) likes on 158 posts this past year. 

4. neymarjr

neymar
Neymar’s best nine instragram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

Instagram seems to be a footballers’ playground as the next entry on the list of top posters this year is another footballer who has 129,931,052 followers. This year, @neymarjr’s account received 504,253,762 (over 504 million) likes on 256 posts. 

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5. Taylor Swift

taylor swift
Taylor Swift’s best nine Instagram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

Singer Taylor Swift is one of only two musicians on Best Nine’s top 6 list with 124,039,379 followers. Her account received 256,989,379 likes in 160 posts. 

6. Justin Bieber

Justin Beiber
Justin Beiber’s best nine Instagram posts of 2021 | Picture: Supplied

Justin Beiber is the second musician to crack Best Nine’s list with 122,854,194 followers and 809,126,824 likes in 429 posts in 2021.

How to see your “best nine” moments on Instagram

The end of each year on social media is marked by a theme of reflection and one of the ways in which people love to do this is by taking stock of their “best nine” moments on Instagram.

Some years ago, the #BestNine or #TopNine hashtags became popular after a number of websites sprung up featuring software that could tally up all your posts for the year and put your best nine Instagram images into a collage according to which ones were most popular. This was based on how many likes each image got. 

This may not necessarily be possible in 2021 however. 

According to the Top Nine website, which bills itself as the creator of the trend, “this year, Instagram won’t allow permission to request the likes of the users using the Simple API, so neither we nor any other app will be able to ‘automagically’ generate the Top Nine collage based on our algorithm.”

As such, the website now features a link to a number of apps that you can use to create your own #BestNine grid according to what you think your best moments were this year. For people who update their pages regularly, this might be a tall task. 

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“As creators of the trend, we love seeing it grow every year. This year, our app (and many other creative video apps) offer templates that will be used to share the Top Nine moments of the year using #TopNine. The main difference is that you’ll have to choose the posts yourself,” explained Top Nine. 

The site further explained that millions of posts have already been shared on various platforms using the #TopNine hashtag and it is also gaining momentum on TikTok. 

“If you want to get some visibility on the hashtag, we recommend posting yours anytime between December 26th and December 30th,” advised Top Nine. 

They offer the option to create your top nine by downloading their “Top Nine for Instagram 2021” app by Beta Labs, which is currently only available on the Apple app store. 

At the time of writing, we had attempted to get a collage on the Best Nine website, as this option is the simplest, and after an hour, the collage still was not ready.