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Going by Instagram trends for 2018, love is on everyone’s mind. In the social media platform’s review for 2018, the heart emoji was used in comments 14 billion times, while Instagram Stories’ most popular face filter turned out to be heart eyes. The bouncing heart emoji, another familiar feature on Stories, was the most used Giphy sticker. In tandem with global trends, #love was top of the list for Indian users when it came to “following" hashtags—a new feature introduced on the platform this year that allows users to easily view multiple posts from any user mentioning the hashtag.

Hashtags and emojis have emerged as an effective means of communication, not just between users but also in brand communication. “The use of emojis on social media for business accounts or brand pages makes the communication approachable and friendly," says Surabhi Chauhan, founder of Delhi-based communication agency Lovestruckcow. “More brands want to connect with their audience as their friend, a confidant they could rely on for more than just the need of the product/service."

Instagram’s list of top niche community trends for the year was topped by ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos that are designed to relax the viewer with calming visuals and sounds. High on the list of ASMR videos are slime-popping and soap-cutting. While slime is a malleable substance made from sodium borate mixed with water, a new-age take on stress balls (and far more elastic), soap-cutting is exactly what the names suggests. Alyssa Jagan is a Toronto-based teenager whose slime videos @craftyslimecreator have 876k followers double-tapping on her posts of moulding colourful slime. @asmr_soap_princess, an account run by two girls from Russia with more than 1,000 varieties of soap in their kitty, has 421k dedicated followers. India has more viewers of these videos than creators, but the trend is catching up with accounts like @indiaspowderyasmr, which has more than 4,000 followers.

What else do Instagrammers love? The Korean boy band BTS and the game Fortnite. On a more serious note, advocacy hashtags too made an impact, with #metoo used for 1.5 million posts, followed by #timesup (597k) and #marchforourlives (562k).

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