- The fastest-growing hashtag globally this year was #fortnite, and ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) was the top niche community on Instagram, according to the platform's year-end review of trends.
- Korean-pop boy band BTS had the top fandom community with 14.5 million followers, while Disneyland Tokyo saw the highest use of the smiley-face emoji in captions. The biggest viral dance challenge was #inmyfeelingschallenge.
- The year's top advocacy hashtags were #metoo (1.5 million) and #timesup (597,000) to raise awareness about sexual harassment, while #marchforourlives (562,000) on the platform pushed for more gun control.
Instagram's massive user base of about 1 billion people gives the platform a wide range of insights into pop culture trends worldwide, letting marketers and brands assess trends and interests and develop marketing campaigns around a variety of topics that could resonate with consumers around the world.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, #Fortnite was the fastest-growing hashtag on the platform, as the online game topped 125 million players and has made $300 million on iOS since its release. The game's huge, mostly Gen Z user base has made it a target advertising platform of several marketers, with Blue Apron, Casper, 1-800 Flowers and Dollar Shave Club among the game's top brand sponsors. Similarly, brands including Applebee's, Ikea and Zippo have recently ventured into the ASMR trend to capture the growing audience for ASMR videos, which exceed 10 million on YouTube, and get creative in their marketing to nurture an emotional connection with younger consumers who could be fans of ASMR videos and may appreciate quirky campaigns.
Another trend this year, K-pop, has become a global phenomenon thanks to musical groups like BTS. The band was the first K-pop band to score a No. 1 album in the U.S. with "Love Yourself: Tear," and again with "Love Yourself: Answer," according to Billboard rankings cited by Vulture. Marketers are certainly listening to consumer interest in the group, as the boy band has been tapped as brand ambassadors for Coca Cola, Hyundai, Puma and LG.
The annual year in review analysis points to why Instagram continues to be a key platform for marketers. It is the most popular platform for social influencers to share posts about the products they use, with almost all (93%) influencer campaigns using the image-sharing app — about twice the share of YouTube and Facebook, according to a study by CreatorIQ. The influencer industry on Instagram is forecast to grow from $5.7 billion this year to $8.1 billion by 2020, based on estimates by researcher InfluencerDB. Influencers help to keep users engaged with Instagram, which is likely why the app this month began testing "creator account" profiles to support the influencer community and compel them to stay on the platform. The accounts provide influencers with specialized software tools to help them manage a following.