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Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Economic Power?



Which U.S. Generation Wields the Most Economic Power?

In the modern digital world, social media reach is power.

The people with the most followers on Twitter, for example, have a massive platform to spread their messages, while those with large, engaged followings on Instagram are an advertiser’s dream sponsor partner.

Social media can also be an equalizer of power. It’s true that many celebrities boast large followings across platforms, but social media has also enabled previously unknown personalities to turn YouTube or TikTok fame into veritable star power and influence.

Who has the biggest reach across the entire social media universe? Instead of looking at who has the most followers on Instagram, Twitter, or other networks, we ranked the most-followed personalities across all major platforms combined.

Who Has the Most Overall Followers on Social Media?

We parsed through hundreds of the most-followed accounts on multiple platforms to narrow down the top influencers across social media as of April 2021.

Sources include trackers of the most followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok, verified directly on site and with social media tracker Socialblade.

The results? A top 50 list of social media influencers consisting of athletes, musicians, politicians, and other personalities.

Rank Name Category Total Followers Biggest Platform
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo Sports 517M Instagram
#2 Justin Bieber Music 455M Instagram
#3 Ariana Grande Music 429M Instagram
#4 Selena Gomez Music 425M Instagram
#5 Taylor Swift Music 361M Instagram
#6 Dwayne Johnson Film & TV 342M Instagram
#7 Katy Perry Music 338M Instagram
#8 Kylie Jenner Other 333M Instagram
#9 Rihanna Music 332M Twitter
#10 Kim Kardashian Other 319M Instagram
#11 Lionel Messi Sports 298M Instagram
#12 Neymar Sports 283M Instagram
#13 Shakira Music 282M Facebook
#14 Jennifer Lopez Music 277M Instagram
#15 Beyoncé Music 267M Instagram
#16 Ellen DeGeneres Film & TV 260M Instagram
#17 Miley Cyrus Music 235M Instagram
#18 Nicki Minaj Music 232M Instagram
#19 Barack Obama Politics 221M Twitter
#20 Will Smith Film & TV 217M Facebook
#21 Kendall Jenner Other 212M Instagram
#22 Demi Lovato Music 211M Instagram
#23 Lady Gaga Music 210M Twitter
#24 Kevin Hart Film & TV 201M Instagram
#25 Virat Kohli Sports 195M Instagram
#26 Eminem Music 194M Facebook
#27 Drake Music 192M Instagram
#28 Khloé Kardashian Other 191M Instagram
#29 Bruno Mars Music 191M Facebook
#30 Chris Brown Music 187M Instagram
#31 Vin Diesel Film & TV 177M Facebook
#32 Narendra Modi Politics 175M Twitter
#33 Justin Timberlake Music 175M Twitter
#34 Billie Eilish Music 171M Instagram
#35 Charli D’Amelio Other 169M TikTok
#36 Kourtney Kardashian Other 165M Instagram
#37 Cardi B Music 160M Instagram
#38 LeBron James Sports 157M Instagram
#39 Adele Music 156M Facebook
#40 Priyanka Chopra Film & TV 144M Instagram
#41 Germán Garmendia Gaming 143M Youtube
#42 Wiz Khalifa Music 142M Facebook
#43 Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg Gaming 141M Youtube
#44 Akshay Kumar Film & TV 140M Instagram
#45 Snoop Dogg Music 138M Instagram
#46 Deepika Padukone Film & TV 138M Instagram
#47 Britney Spears Music 137M Twitter
#48 Shawn Mendes Music 136M Instagram
#49 Whindersson Nunes Batista Other 135M Instagram
#50 Salman Khan Film & TV 134M Facebook

Unsurprisingly, celebrities reign supreme on social media. As of April 2021, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was the most-followed person on social media with more than 500 million total followers.

But there are other illuminating highlights, such as the global reach of music. With large and diverse fanbases, artists account for half of the top 50 largest social media followings.

Also notable is the power of Instagram, which was the biggest platform for 67% of the top 50 social media influencers. This includes hard-to-categorize celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners, which turned reality TV and social media fame into business and media empires.

Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)

The Generational Power Index

The Most Followers on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube

However, it’s not only celebrities that dominate social media.

Personalities that started on one social media platform and developed massive followings include TikTok’s most-followed star Charli D’Amelio and YouTubers Germán Garmendia, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, and Whindersson Nunes Batista.

Politicians were also prominent influencers. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has the most followers on Twitter, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has more than 175 million followers across social media.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump would have also made the list with more than 140 million followers across social media before being banned from multiple platforms on January 8, 2021.

A Generational Look at Social Media Influence

While older generations have had to adapt to social media platforms, younger generations have grown up alongside them. As a measure of cultural importance, this gives Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z a rare leg-up on older generations.

Millennials, in particular, hold the lion’s share of spots in this top 50 list:

Generation # of Influencers in Generation Top Influencer in Generation
Gen Z 4 Kylie Jenner
Millennial 33 Cristiano Ronaldo
Gen X 10 Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
Baby Boomer 3 Ellen DeGeneres

The average age of the top 50 influencers was just over 37.

In our Generational Power Index (GPI), which measures the share of power generations hold in various categories, digital platforms were a key area where Millennials derived their power and influence. Overall, Baby Boomers—and to a lesser extent, Gen X—still run the show in most areas of society today.

Social Media Influence, Going Forward

As most fans and advertisers know, not all social media accounts and followings are homogenous.

Many influencers with relatively small followings have more consistent engagement, and are often able to demand high advertising fees as a result.

Conversely, most social media platforms are reckoning with a severe glut of fake accounts or bots that inflate follower counts, impacting everything from celebrities and politicians to personalities and businesses.

Regardless, social media has become a mainstay platform (or soapbox) for today’s cultural influencers. Billions of people turn to social media for news, engagement, recommendations, and entertainment, and new platforms are always on the rise.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the data used for this story incorrectly counted Facebook likes instead of followers for some personalities. The content has since been corrected and updated.”

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