Instagram is a platform where ordinary people can become very, very famous, merely by posting pictures of their abs or salad bowls or children. But it's also a place where people who are already very, very famous can make sure they stay that way. On Instagram, your favorite actors and musicians and reality stars are able to create their own headlines, interact with fans, and earn some sponcon money on the side — without having to so much as step outside their luxury homes and interact with paparazzi or reporters.
But the pleasure is all ours. 2018 was a great year to keep up with celebrities on social media, and keep up with the people who keep up with celebrities on social media — shout out to @theshaderoom and @commentsbycelebs. There were dramatic deletions, adorable baby reveals, and revelations about dick size galore. @badgalriri launched @fentybeauty, @iamcardib wore so much @fashionnova that they let her design her own, and @blonded finally went public.
In no particular order, here were our favorite accounts to lurk over the past 12 months.
Most Aesthetic Grid: Ariana Grande
2018 was the year Ariana Grande convinced us all to use Huji and vintage camcorder apps to make our photos and videos dreamier and more cloud emoji-esque. Grande's grid is immaculate: whether posting hints about her "Thank U, Next" video, her own paparazzi shots, or sweet selfies with friends, she's always sure to keep to a pastel color palette and write the captions lᴉʞǝ ʇɥᴉs¡. An icon of brand curation.
Best Comedy Shorts: Britney Spears
Britney's Instagram is a total delight, and was a consistent bright spot on our otherwise dark, depressing news feeds over the course of this year. Brit's best posts this year were jokey videos like this one (featuring buff, 24-year-old boyfriend Sam Asghari), but her account was also good for fun spur-of-the-moment hiking photos, motivational quotes, and minions memes.
Most Unexpected Content: Martha Stewart
Obviously there are some strong homemaker vibes over on Martha's account: a lot of baking, a fair few roast chickens. But she posts some surprises, too. Some noteable 2018 Marthagrams include Stewart hanging out with good pal Snoop Dogg, posting a casual thirst trap, and documenting her first ever Uber experience. (She hated it).
Most Momcore Content: Jennifer Garner
2018 was the year of the Garner comeback! Something to be grateful for. She starred in HBO's Camping and Peppermint, and became a bona fide Instagram star by virtue of her confessional, self-effacing posts about parenting, acting, and meeting Ina Garten. Jen's coming for your momcore content crowns, Chrissy Teigen and Busy Phillips.
Most Confessional Stories: Cardi B
Cardi B did everything possible in the year 2018: release an album, have a baby, marry then separate from a member of Migos, fly in many private jets, launch several lucrative fashion partnerships, and feud with Nicki Minaj. And thanks to the highly confessional nature of her Instagram stories, we got to follow along every step of the way. May she never, ever delete. Bless this account.
Most Adoring Tween Audience: Cole Sprouse
Riverdale has earned all of its stars serious social media clout, but Cole Sprouse has emerged as the one to follow, even after giving up on watching the (let's face it — increasingly insane) show. There's his main account, which has a lot of Serious Photography as well as some cute shout outs to his girlfriend Lili Reinhart, aka Betty Cooper. Also @camera_duels, where Sprouse takes covert photos of the fans who take "covert" photos of him. Plus Sprouse makes regular charming appearances on the official Netflix Instagram. He was everywhere this year!
Related | The Buzz About Dylan Sprouse
Best Use of Platform: Jameela Jamil
Jameela Jamil is generous! This year she gave us not only the gift of Tahani on The Good Place, but also a refreshingly earnest Instagram account filled with body positivity and hard truths about laxatives. Even if you're an unapologetic follower of photoshopped, botoxed celebrities who only drink Fit Tea, Jamil is worth having on your feed to provide a voice of reason and common sense. Plus cute cast photos of her and Kristen Bell.
Most Underrated Follow: Diplo
Diplo's Instagram bio reads "Grammy award losing producer and Instagram model," and this sets the tone for the surprisingly fun social media experience that is being one of his followers. Self deprecating captions! Travel photography! Overalls! Butts! This account truly has it all. If you're not already on board, make @diplo a 2019 resolution.
Best OOTD Posts: Tracee Ellis Ross
Nobody does it like Tracee! All year long she kept us in awe of her Valentino gowns, Versace party dresses, and poolside oversized sunhats. All while wearing bright and cheery pink lip stick and a smile. A fashion icon, and constant source of positivity on the timeline.
Most Wholesome Vibes: Oprah
Instagram is about escapism, and we needed that more than anything else in 2018. There are any number of soothing, calming celebrity accounts basically made for this purpose: Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman, Queer Eye's Fab Five. But Oprah is the best of all — whether she's harvesting fresh vegetables from her garden, eating cake baked for her by Michael B. Jordan's mom, or simply chilling with Stedman, she's got you.
Photos via Instagram