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Five Social Ad Campaigns That Defined 2021

Today, 4.48 billion people around the world use social media on a daily basis. Social network platforms have roughly tripled their user base in the last decade, from 970 million in 2010 to 4.48 billion in 2021—and this growth will continue as more people gain access to the internet and smartphones. 

Growth means more opportunities for brands who want to expand and connect with their audience. Making posts on different platforms is the first step, but formulating effective social media strategies will help brands stand out, drive website traffic, and increase sales. 

Learning the most effective social media strategies isn’t easy, but there are a number of successful ad campaigns from 2021 that brands can use to their advantage going into 2022. 


Apple – #ShotOniPhone

Apple found a unique and creative way to connect its audience through visual storytelling. Its #ShotOniPhone campaign utilized user-generated content, or UGC, to showcase their products and authenticity. 



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The campaign certainly made the most impact on Instagram, but Apple successfully leveraged both online and offline marketing materials to boast some staggering results. As of today, the #ShotOniPhone hashtag has been posted more than 16 million times just on Instagram.  

UGC encourages trust among customers while boosting revenue, but it’s also one of the most cost-effective ways a brand can leverage its products. #ShotOniPhone gave Apple incredible brand exposure that they didn’t have to pay for directly, and other brands have the same opportunity. 


Spotify – #SpotifyWrapped

The Spotify Wrapped campaign started all the way back in 2015, but it hits new heights every year as more of us use and engage with the app. In 2021, listeners were given personalized data on their most played songs, artists, playlists, and genres of the year. 

From here, Spotify allows its users to share said data on virtually every social media platform. Shareable, comparable, personalized content gives Spotify users the ability to connect with other audiences while boosting the company’s brand via millions of user-generated posts. 


@annaxsitar##ad let’s play a game ✨2021 is almost over. now it’s time to show off the top songs on your ##SpotifyWrapped ##spotifypartner @spotify♬ 2021 Spotify Wrapped – Spotify


Personalized data is increasingly shareable on social media giants like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook—and brands like Spotify have an opportunity to let their audience share what they’re passionate about.   


Lush – #LushLife

Lush has made it very clear over the years that their eco-friendly products aren’t just commodities, they’re a lifestyle. Lush’s #Lushlife campaign is a way for customers to share their purchases, watch videos on how these bath bombs and soaps are made, and most importantly—become part of a community.

Lush wants to be seen as part of a larger movement, so resharing posts, highlighting customers, boosting community members, and sharing climate and eco-friendly updates all through the #lushlife hashtag help grow the brand’s image.

Organic campaigns like this one are so successful that Lush has never had to spend money on TV ads, celebrity endorsements, or targeted social media content. Lush is a great example of how to organize, curate, and centralize content in a single location to grow a community. 


McDonald’s – #SaweetieMeal

One of the largest celebrity endorsement social media campaigns in 2021 came from McDonald’s, which collaborated with rapper Saweetie to extend their line of limited edition celebrity meals. 

But let’s be real—Mcdonald’s doesn’t really need to throw millions of dollars into social media campaigns. They’re one of the most recognized brand names in the world, so what led to the collaboration? 



Saweetie has made a name for herself as a food influencer while going live on Instagram to give food recommendations to her fans. Her die-hard fan base and self-proclaimed love of Mcdonald’s set the stage for a perfect collaboration. 

“McDonald’s and I run deep—from growing up back in Hayward, California, all through my college days—so I had to bring my icy gang in on my all-time favorites. Depending on the mood I’m in, there are so many ways to enjoy my order. I like to keep things fresh,” says Saweetie.  

Collaborations like this one solidify the power of celebrity endorsements, but they also help maintain the relevance of the brand while reaching new audiences. 


Dove & Getty Images – #ShowUs

The #ShowUs campaign is an ongoing project between Dove and Getty Images that calls for body positivity and acceptance. What started as a collection of 5,000 photographs has turned into more than 14,000 photographs from 41 countries that showcase the authentic experiences of women around the world. 

The collection continues to expand every day but the purpose remains the same: “To come together and put an end to the narrow definition of beauty consistently portrayed around the world, setting a new standard for the authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women across the world,” says Rebecca Swift, of Getty Images. 

What started in 2019, the #ShowUs campaign has since blown up across social media platforms and is a proud example of how two brands aligned their goals and came together to produce something part of a much larger movement.   


New potential for social ad campaigns in 2022

Social media campaigns have taken new heights in 2021, but there’s more potential than ever for brands to grow and engage their audiences in the new year. Whether it’s a hashtag, user-generated content, impactful imagery, or community building, social ads lead to new kinds of brand interactions. 

Not every campaign will go viral, but the world is increasingly connected to social platforms, and brands who want to make a name for themselves must give consumers an opportunity to share what’s important to them.