In 2023, there has been no shortage of celebrity scandals and successes - from messy divorces to eyebrow posts and cheating rumours. But who has emerged victorious from the online drama? And who has the internet rallied against?
Just like with online slots, sometimes you have to risk it all for a chance at winning big. While a celebrity controversy will make headlines, it can impact a celebrity’s public perception for better or worse.
We wanted to reveal the celebrities who rose to popularity in 2023 and those with a declining online presence. We looked at the Instagram following, engagement rate, likes and growth of stars over the past year to reveal the most and least popular.
The Most Popular Celebrities Online
1. Neymar - Popularity score: 8.12/10
Brazilian footballer Neymar is arguably the most famous sports star in the world. Known for playing in world-class football clubs, including Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, it’s no wonder he is a fan favourite online.
Neymar gained over 35 million followers in the last year and is the third most-Googled celebrity with 140.9 million searches. Worldwide, Google searches for Neymar increased by 88% in the last year compared to the previous year. This comes alongside the player’s transfer from PSG to the Saudi club Al Hilal on a two-year contract.
2. Lionel Messi - Popularity score: 7.98/10
It’s no secret that football stars have large, dedicated fanbases, and Lionel Messi is no exception. The Argentinian footballer has had an almost 20-year career, playing for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, among other professional teams.
Messi is also one of the most famous celebrities online, with 486 million Instagram followers - only Cristiano Ronaldo has a more significant following. Around 127.3 million of those followers were gained in the last year. Messi also receives more likes per Instagram post than any other celebrity except Taylor Swift, averaging 6.7 million likes.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Popularity score: 7.91/10
The third footballer in our top three, Cristiano Ronaldo, is officially one of the most famous celebrities online. The Portuguese player has appeared on the pitch for top clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, and has won the Ballon d'Or award five times.
Ronaldo is the most-followed celebrity on Instagram, with 603 million followers, up by 125.1 million since last year. The soccer and social media star is among the most liked celebrities, averaging 5.5 million likes per post. He is also the second most-Googled celebrity, with 199.4 million searches from across the globe.
The Least Popular Celebrities Online
1. Jesy Nelson - Popularity score: 1.35/10
Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson is no stranger to controversy, making waves when she departed from the girl group to launch her solo career. Despite making headlines, Nelson is also losing popularity online.
The singer gained just 700,000 Instagram followers in the last year, a growth of 8%, and receives under 32,000 likes per post on average. Nelson took a break from releasing music after her 2021 single Boyz, which could have contributed to the 18% year-on-year decrease in Google searches for the vocalist.
2. Jordyn Woods - Popularity score: 2.04/10
Jordyn Woods is best known for her recently rekindled friendship with social media star Kylie Jenner following the duo’s split after the Tristan Thompson cheating scandal in 2019. While Kylie may have forgiven the model and socialite, the internet has all but buried the hatchet.
Woods lost 300,000 Instagram followers in the last year, meaning her online presence shrunk by 2%, and the model experienced no growth in global Google searches compared to last year.
3. Sam Asghari - Popularity score: 2.10/10
Iranian model Sam Asghari recently announced his split from his wife, Britney Spears, after just 14 months of marriage. Following the split, the model’s popularity appears to be plummeting.
Asghari has 3 million Instagram followers, which has dropped by 1% in the last year, yet receives just over 34,000 likes per post on average. Around 34% of his Instagram followers are estimated to be inactive. Despite his Instagram following, Asghari received over 800% more Google searches this year than last.
The most followed celebrity on Instagram | Cristiano Ronaldo - 603 million Instagram followers
Cristiano Ronaldo is no stranger to online fame and has an Instagram following to prove it. The Portuguese footballer has more followers than any other celebrity on the app, at 603 million. On the image-sharing platform, Ronaldo uploads snaps of his family life, training sessions and product endorsements for his fans to see.
The celebrity who gained the most Instagram followers this year | Lionel Messi - Gained 127.3 million Instagram followers
Lionel Messi gained more Instagram followers than any other celebrity in the last year, increasing his following by 127.3 million. The soccer player shares moments such as his family travels, moments on the pitch and advertisements, including his collaboration with Budweiser.
The celebrity who blew up on Instagram this year | Jenna Ortega - Increased Instagram following by 371%
Jenna Ortega is one of the trendiest celebrities this year, following her leading role in the Netflix series Wednesday. In September 2022, just two months before the premiere of the Addams Family spin-off, Ortega had 8.5 million followers. Today, that number stands at 40.2 million - an increase of 371%.
The most-liked celebrity on Instagram | Taylor Swift - 7.1 million average likes per post
The popularity of Taylor Swift is undeniable, with the Eras tour selling out across the US during the pre-sale and most international dates following suit. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the singer is the most-liked celebrity on Instagram, where her posts of on-stage performances, music studio snaps and famous friends garner 7.1 million likes on average.
The most engaging celebrity on Instagram | Johnny Depp - 12.87% Instagram engagement rate
Johnny Depp’s public persona has evolved over his decades-long career, most recently making headlines for his high-profile trial with his ex-wife Amber Heard. With his iconic film roles and the cult following they have generated, it’s no surprise that Depp has the highest Instagram engagement rate, of 12.87%, out of all the celebrities we looked at.
The celebrity with the most estimated fake Instagram followers | Suki Waterhouse - 40.79% of followers inactive
British actress and model Suki Waterhouse is no stranger to online fame, having appeared in The Divergent Series and Jonathan and having high-profile relationships with Bradley Cooper and Robert Pattinson. The model has the most estimated inactive followers out of all the celebrities we looked at, with 40.79% of her 3.6 million followers potentially being fake accounts.
The most Googled celebrity this year | Jenna Ortega - 219.2 million Google searches
Jenna Ortega is the most Googled celebrity in 2023, with 219.2 million searches from around the world. The actor appeared in Jane the Virgin and the Netflix thriller You, although her leading role in Wednesday catapulted her to online fame.
The celebrity who blew up on Google this year | Sam Asghari - 809% increase in Google searches
Best known for his marriage to popstar Britney Spears, model Sam Asghari has piqued the interest of many in 2023. Google searches for Asghari increased by 809% compared to last year, likely impacted by the couple’s divorce announcement in August this year.
We wanted to reveal the rising and falling popularity of celebrities, so we compiled a list using Social Blade and Tell Tales Online. Celebrities for which the relevant data was unavailable were removed.
We then gave each celebrity a normalised score out of 10 for each factor before calculating an average score across all factors. This formed our ‘Popularity score out of 10’, which we used as the basis for our ranking.
We sourced the number of Instagram followers from Instagram on 11th September 2023.
We sourced the number of Instagram followers as of September 2022 from Social Blade. We used this to calculate the difference in followers and the percentage difference in followers for each celebrity.
We sourced the average likes per Instagram post from Social Blade on 11th September 2023.
We sourced the Instagram engagement rate from Social Blade on 11th September 2023.
We sourced the estimated percentage of inactive followers from Modash on 11th September 2023.
We sourced the number of global annual Google searches and the year-on-year increase in searches from Google Keyword Planner, looking at worldwide Google searches made between 1st September 2022 and 31st August 2023 and the year-on-year change.