Selena Gomez: How I Became Instagram's Most Followed Person (Without Really Trying)

Eric Ray Davidson
Selena Gomez

The singer-actress — with 89 million followers — doesn't have a social media consultant or a method behind her backstage pics and well-lit selfies: Instead, "I go, 'Oh, that would be great for Instagram.'"

In this age of competition for followers and likes, stars often hire digital consultants and carefully curate their social profiles. So it might come as a surprise how little thought Gomez gives to the Instagram feed that has become the app's most followed. "It comes in a moment when I capture something happening, and I go, 'Oh, that would be great for Instagram. I should post it.' I know it's boring, but that's genuinely what I do." Since bumping Taylor Swift from the top spot in March, Gomez has amassed 89 million followers at press time. "It wasn't my goal to be the most followed person," demurs Gomez, 23, but she's not hiding how much she enjoys the app: "It's my favorite social platform."

Her feed is a mixture of professional photos, off-the-cuff videos and selfies. And her fans clearly love it. A June 25 shot of her drinking a bottle of Coke quickly racked up 4 million likes and is widely believed to be the most-liked photo on Instagram at the moment. "I'm not sure there's a method to my madness," admits Gomez, who shares a few tips, like: If a caption isn't coming to you, use emoji and "let it be."

Her current obsession with Instagram's longer video product (she was one of the first to post a 60-second video of herself in the studio when the feature rolled out in March) has become clear, too. On the Fourth of July she posted a long shot of herself walking into the party she was hosting and then jumping into the pool. It has been viewed 9 million times.

Hopping from city to city as part of her 81-show Revival tour, Gomez uses Instagram to offer an inside look at her nonstop schedule: working on her new album out of the studio bus, meeting with fans after her concerts, watching The Big Bang Theory backstage. "I try to find a good balance of just being 100 percent myself and knowing when to post a really good selfie with good lighting," says Gomez. But a recent photo, of her riding a shopping cart inside a market in Canada, had some fans wondering just how "real" her 'grams are. The backstory: Her tour photographer tagged along on the excursion. "I've created this bond with him, so it's super organic when he takes photos," says Gomez. "We were in the grocery store, all shopping for the bus, and I always eat when I shop. I remember one of the comments said, 'I cannot believe she rented out the grocery store for a photo shoot,' and I died laughing. I was like, 'Well, I didn't.' "

 

restock the bus -grocery shopping in Saskatoon

A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on

A version of this story first appeared in the July 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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