What Taylor Swift’s Instagram Tells Us About Success in 2016

Maybe you didn’t download Taylor Swift’s album 1989 in the first five minutes or weep audibly when you saw her video for “Wildest Dreams,” but you can’t deny that she is one of the most successful artists of our time.

She’s happy, she’s healthy, she looks great in knitted sweaters… it truly seems like she has it all. And not only that, but she has taken over a huge part of the internet world by being the most followed person on Instagram (at a whopping 60 million followers) in 2015. What a gem.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

When I first heard that she was the most followed person on Instagram I:

  • 1. Gasped
  • 2. Felt a little bit bad for Beyonce, and…
  • 3. Well… followed Taylor Swift on Instagram.

I simply had to know what everyone saw in her social media presence.

Once I started following her on Instagram, I saw that she had single handedly transformed the idea of success since becoming the Queenstagram. Indeed, her Instagram life unknowingly reveals the most important elements of success in 2016.

First, Taylor Swift’s Instagram is full of something we can all get behind.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

That, of course, is cats.

Ok, success isn’t really about having cats, but moreso the metaphor behind the cats.

See, to Taylor Swift, her cats, Detective Olivia Benson and Doctor Meredith Grey, are two of the things she loves unconditionally- whether or not the world approves.

Approximately one in ten of her Instagram posts involve these girls in some way- in the background, casually prowling in Taylor’s hotel room, or at the forefront purring their little whiskers off on Taylor’s bedspread.

They represent the love we all have for certain things, no matter how strange others may find them. They are those interests that make us quirky, and that people like the most successful singer/songwriter of our time encourage us to express often and robustly.

Taylor Swift’s cats show us that success in 2016 is more than just selling records and performing with Justin Timberlake (while all of that is nice too). Success is loving what we love and being proud of it.

You are an inspiration to us all, Olivia and Meredith.

Second? Gratitude.

“Cause we’re celebrating no more drama in our lives…” @therealmaryjblige

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


Next to cute little furbabies, Taylor Swift’s Instagram is full of images and videos of the star having fun. About once a week Taylor sees or does something that causes her to experience great joy, or, more specifically, what I would call the very definition of exuberance. And while the idea of happiness being a huge part of success is not at all front page news, Taylor Swift’s happiness isn’t your run-of-the-mill smiley face emoji. It is a surreal sense of stokeage that approaches everyday niceties with transcendent glee.

Stars generally know other stars and converse with each other in pretty normal ways, but when Taylor Swift meets and performs with Mary J. Blige, she very nearly melts.

Most singers hear their songs on the radio every so often (especially if you are on almost every radio station, like Taylor Swift is), but when the pop princess hears her song on the radio she shrieks and simply has to record the moment on video for her fans.

She reveals that success is being grateful for the good in your life, no matter how familiar it becomes. And of course, some of her haters (who are just simply going to hate hate hate hate hate) will say that this joy may not always be 100% real. Perhaps it isn’t. But I think that the message of being happy is an even more profound one if it isn’t always genuine. Because that means that success is showing proper gratitude no matter how you feel in that moment. And T-Swift kills the gratitude game.

Third. Homegirl can chill.

Cold New York. Hot tea. @marhunt

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


While T. Swift’s IG offers innumerable glimpses of the performing life (especially where it follows her recent 1989 tour), it also shows life off of the stage. Indeed, for every ten or so photos of Taylor in a sparkling leotard being incredibly glamorous, there is at least one shot of her in an oversized hoodie being incredibly chill. That’s right, Taylor Swift shows us that in 2016 a huge key to success is being able to relax like a boss after a long day.

She snuggles with her cats, she bakes batch after batch of cookies, she jots down C.S. Lewis quotes, she paints with watercolors, she wears flannel pajamas, and she drinks tea with Martha Hunt. If I didn’t know any better I would say she is Koselig AF. Taylor’s Instagram reveals to us that success in 2016 is all about knowing how to wind down happily, warmly, and, dare I say it… swiftly.

Fourth. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

You used to call me on my elf phone.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


In her collection of photos she appears in many different costumes, from a pegacorn in an elevator to an elf who makes bad Drake puns. She posts videos of herself conversing with goats, accidentally singing Blink 182 songs, and messing up stunts in her music videos. Her captions are hilarious, whether she is giving her cats the credit for her millions of followers, or comparing her outfits to Paddington Bear’s. Taylor Swift’s posts on Instagram are lighthearted and laughable because she knows that being too serious isn’t what success is about in 2016.

Finally, and most importantly, give your time to the people you love.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks for all the unconditional love, sarcastic comments, and interesting Christmas presents.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on


Not only does her Instagram have tons of photos of her with her very close group of girl friends, but it is also packed with photos and blurbs about the people she loves most: her family. Do you want to spot Taylor’s dad hanging out with the members of Haim? That’s on her Instagram. Do you want to see a video of Taylor and her brother hunting for Easter eggs? That’s on there too. Twice. Taylor knows that success in 2016 is about spending quality time with the ones you love, especially the ones who knew you before you were successful.

Thanks, T. Swift. You’re the Queen.