LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo muscled his way into Instagram’s top-followed ranks this year as he documented his career and growing family, but pop star Selena Gomez still reigned supreme on the social media platform.
Ronaldo, who was named Forbes’ highest-paid soccer player this year with $93 million in earnings, climbed to No. 2 with 116 million followers on Instagram, up from 82.8 million followers and the No. 6 slot last year.
Gomez remained the most-followed person on Instagram with 130 million followers this year, up from 103 million last year.
Ronaldo, 32, a striker for Real Madrid, has posted numerous photos and videos on Instagram this year both on and off the soccer field. He notched three of the ten most-liked posts on Instagram this year, all documenting his growing family.
The athlete announced that he was a father to newborn twins born to a surrogate mother in June, in a post that garnered more than 8.2 million likes. His most popular post clocked more than 11 million likes in November, announcing the birth of his baby daughter with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez.
In 2010, Ronaldo said he became father to a son and had full custody. The mother’s identity was not publicly announced.
Facebook Inc-owned Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users and 800 million monthly active users. The platform allows users to post photos, videos and this year introduced instant ‘stories,’ where posted videos and photos disappear after 24 hours.
Singers Ariana Grande and Beyonce held onto the third and fourth most-followed spots with 115 million followers and 108 million followers respectively this year, while reality star Kim Kardashian West held onto the fifth spot with 104 million fans.
Beyonce’s February photo announcing her pregnancy with twins was the most-liked photo on Instagram this year, with more than 11.1 million likes.
Taylor Swift dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 after the 27-year-old disappeared from social media earlier this year after a highly publicized breakup with British DJ Calvin Harris and feuds with Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
She returned to Instagram in August with a scrubbed Instagram profile and promoted her new music on her feed.
Among the data compiled by Instagram between Jan. 1 and Nov. 17, the most popular hashtag used was #love, the city most featured in posts was New York and the most-Instagrammed location was Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by Grant McCool