By Cady Lang
June 4, 2019

Since Instagram launched their stories feature in 2016, users have been able to experience real-time updates from the accounts they follow in a new way. Stories, with their 24 hour expiration date and fun filters and stickers, presented a fresh alternative to interact with the people on your timeline, providing glimpses of everyday life or experiences that felt more real and ephemeral — an undeniably refreshing turn of pace on a platform that’s spawned so much curation that there’s now a phenomenon known as “the Instagram aesthetic.” For those who dismissed Instagram stories as fleeting or merely the platform’s bid to keep up with competitor Snapchat, it’s worth rethinking the impact of this Instagram feature, which has proved to be an integral part of how we share and consume social media in this day and age.

Take for example, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who used her Instagram stories as a way to not only engage and inform voters leading up to her primary win, but as an accessible way to give her followers insight into the work she’s now doing in government. In the case of actress Busy Phillips, Instagram stories have become more than just social sharing — it became the catalyst for a new step in her career. Her daily updates on Instagram, functioning as an narrative of her life, attracted a viral and loyal following, which eventually led to Phillips landing her own late night show, Busy Tonight. That being said, knowing who to follow on Instagram for the best stories can be overwhelming given the sheer number of people on the platform — lucky for you, however, we’ve found the best Instagram stories that you should be keeping up with online. From hilarious social media doyenne Chrissy Teigen’s cooking lessons to the cryptic posts of the ever-elusive Frank Ocean, here are the 25 best Instagram stories you should be following right now.

Chrissy Teigen, @chrissyteigen

When it comes to social media, there are few that do it as well as Chrissy Teigen. While the model-turned-lifestyle maven’s primary platform for bon mots is Twitter, her Instagram serves up daily doses of humor and relationship goals with husband John Legend and the antics of their two children, Luna and Miles.

Frank Ocean, @blonded

Frank Ocean’s well-documented elusiveness is part of why his presence on Instagram stories is worth following. Not one for a daily post on the grid, Ocean often turns to the ephemeral IG stories, where you might catch a snippet of an upcoming song or just some sartorial flexing.

Chani Nicholas, @chaninicholas

Whether or not you believe that the stars have an effect on you daily life, you should be following astrologer Chani Nicholas. From daily horoscopes to gentle encouragement, Nicholas uses tenets of digital culture (memes and current events) to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and to spread a message of love, with missives like “Learning how to love and appreciate ourselves and each other is a full time job” appearing nearly daily on her stories.

Eva Chen, @evachen212

Former editor and writer Eva Chen now heads up fashion partnerships at Instagram, but you’ll want to follow her for her Instagram stories that document both her work and personal life as a busy working mom and New Yorker. Another benefit of watching Chen’s stories? You’ll be privy to news coming out of Instagram HQ — and the strategies when it comes to getting engagement on your own stories.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, @ocasio2018 and @repocasiocortez

If there’s anyone who has tapped into the immense power of what a social media platform can mean professionally, it’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The determined congresswoman from the Bronx channeled her mission of change into her Instagram stories — capturing the attention, and thus mobilizing her like-minded supporters.

Will Smith, @willsmith

Will Smith may have been a relatively new addition to Instagram, but once the actor joined the platform, it was clear he was made for this form of social media. Taking elements of the vlogger and putting his own personable spin on it, Smith’s daily IG stories are undeniably fun, definitely something you’ll want to tune into everyday.

Joy the Baker, @joythebaker

For viral baker, Joy the Baker, who you might also know for her hip hop lyrics-inspired confections, @DrakeonCake, Instagram is a medium to share the process of creating her magnificent sweets — often providing easy-to-adapt insights so her followers can recreate her baked goods at home.

Rihanna, @badgalriri

The bad gal is known for her spontaneous and off-the-cuff posts on social media. While Ri doesn’t post quite as often or as candidly on Instagram stories as she had in the past, you’ll definitely want to follow her for the occasions that she does take to IG stories. From singing karaoke at a Fenty Beauty launch party to wryly revealing just why she couldn’t make it to the Met Gala this year, Rihanna is a must-follow for Instagram stories.

Franchesca Ramsey, @chescaleigh

Francesca Ramsey is an engaging voice, and once you watch her Instagram stories, it’s not hard to see why. Ramsey, who got her start as a YouTube vlogger, is among the some of the most informative people to follow on Instagram whether she’s using her humor for her social activism or just to riff on the events of the day.

Busy Phillips, @busyphilipps

While some people might deride social media as a waste of time, Busy Philipps parlayed her viral Instagram Stories following into a new career move. Philipps, an actress who became known for her hilarious narrative-style Instagram stories, began getting sponsorships, a normal move for most influencers. However, Philipps had her sights set on another platform; in 2018, she used her social clout as a way to take her daily opining to another level: her own late night show, Busy Tonight.

Cardi B, @iamcardib

There are few people more entertaining on Instagram than the irrepressible and charming Cardi B. Cardi, who got her start on Love and Hip Hop: New York thanks to her viral social media presence, has used her online savvy to not only boost her career but to set herself apart in the music industry. While her fans might know all the words to “Bodak Yellow,” they’re also just as familiar with her catchphrases (“Okurrrrr!) and her refreshing political engagement. Follow Cardi for spontaneous (and often NSFW) moments that show up daily on her IG stories.

Lizzo, @lizzobeeating

Lizzo, the breakout, self-proclaimed “bop star” of the moment, has only joy and positivity to spread — and what better way to get your daily dose of her ebullience than by following her Instagram stories. From watching her waltz through an airport in custom Marc Jacobs following the annual Met Gala to seeing her BTS shots of her performances, Lizzo is someone you’ll want to follow on and off the ‘Gram.

Diet Prada, @diet_prada

Consider Diet Prada a whistleblowing conscience of the fashion industry. The mysterious critics behind the account prefer to put the focus on their critiques as opposed to their persons (read: no selfies) but that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant a follow. Quite the contrary, indeed — Diet Prada spares no punches when it comes to calling out what they call “knockoffs,” in fashion. If you want all the fashion tea in real time, you’ll definitely want to follow Diet Prada’s Instagram stories.

Kimberly Drew, @museummammy

Kimberly Drew isn’t your typical social media influencer; focusing on social activism and arts awareness, Drew, who goes by the handle of @museummammy on social media, centers her work gracefully and insightfully on matters of race and gender inequality and how they intersect with the art world and fashion.

Mindy Kaling, @mindykaling

Mindy Kaling’s enthusiasm for life, a staple in the characters she created for The Office and The Mindy Project comes through clearly on her Instagram stories, where she shares her experiences, both good and bad, with her loyal fans. Whether it’s whipping up a batch of homemade baby food for her daughter Katherine or documenting the process of making her upcoming feature film, Late Night, Kaling’s Instagram stories are an earnest and delightful look at her life in all its stages.

Joe Holder, @ochosystem

If you’re looking for inspiration to up your fitness motivation, look no further than Joe Holder, or as he’s known on Instagram, @ochosystem. The fitness maven, who counts Naomi Campbell and Natasha Lyonne as clients, is invested in wellness over weight loss. In fact, he’s all about wellness in all parts of your life, from mental to physical to emotional.

Marz Lovejoy, @marzyjane

Trying to describe Marz Lovejoy’s presence on Instagram can be challenging simply because she wears so many hats. As a writer, singer, model and creative based in New York City, Marz is a multitasker — but the one thing that unites all of her ventures is her staunch commitment to positivity and putting love first — a mission that comes through loud and clear on her social media presence. Follow her Instagram stories for a daily dose of positivity.

Céline Semaan, @celinecelines

For Céline Semaan, sustainability isn’t a trend or choosing to opt out of using a plastic straw when she goes to the coffee shop — it’s a way of life. As a designer and fashion activist, Semaan has channeled her commitment to sustainability into a resource for confronting larger power structures, largely fast fashion. Follow her daily IG stories for informative ways to make more sustainable choices.

Honey Davenport, @honeydavenportofficial

If you’re looking for a daily Instagram story update that has nerve, and talent, look no further than Honey Davenport’s. On Honey’s IG story, you can find everything from her process of preparing for a performance to pithy musings, all served with her signature sass.

Gabrielle Union, @gabunion

Social media is often derided for presenting artifice, but Gabrielle Union’s presence on Instagram feels like a frank (and hilarious) conversation between friends. Union, who’s used the platform to talk about issues like infertility and social justice, can often be seen on her Instagram stories, sharing candid moments of her new life as a mom or behind-the-scenes shots of her life at work — a refreshing way to use her clout to reach out to others who might be facing similar challenges.

Serena Williams, @serenawilliams

The greatest athlete of our generation (and possibly all time) is also a champ when it comes to social media. From charting her journey to motherhood with Baby Alexis Olympia to sharing the triumphs and vulnerabilities of being one of the innovators in her field, Williams is one to watch.

Eileen Kelly, @killerandasweetthang

Eileen Kelly’s community platform, Killer and a Sweet Thang, isn’t your parents’ sex ed. A millennial Dr. Ruth, she’s using her online presence to speak to the next generation about sexual health and relationships. Tune into her daily Instagram content for a look at what intimacy and connection look like today.

Shelby Christie, @bronze_bombshel

Shelby Christie is influencing the way we view fashion history, one Instagram story at a time. The NYU student, fashion historian and former Vogue staffer uses her IG stories as a way to give much-needed (and often missing) context to current fashion trends and events, from Virgil Abloh’s design practices to the significance of the color pink in fashion.

Brittany Packnett, @mspackyetti

Brittany Packnett centers her life’s work on the intersection of culture and justice and her Instagram presence is no different. The activist and community organizer uses her sizable, 70k+ following and frequent posting on social media in an attempt to uplift her community and to fight for a better world.

Ariana Grande, @arianagrande

Is there anyone that better epitomizes the current social media zeitgeist more than Ariana Grande? Her arch use of Instagram might best embody the ephemeral, cheeky spirit of IG stories and often provides valuable insights into what the headlines of tomorrow might be.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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