In 2020, most brands rightfully realized that almost no one was in the mood for business as usual on social media–silly Twitter feuds, April Fool’s jokes, and even standard social media marketing came off as tone-deaf amid greater COVID-19 concerns.
But this year, audiences are ready to laugh, engage, and even be inspired by social media campaigns again, and the best social media of the year does not disappoint.
While many companies are deserving attention for being so creative, here are some of the best social media campaigns of 2021 (so far):
Five of 2021’s Best Social Media Campaigns
Back in April, Dove launched its Self Esteem Project, focused on educating young women around the false images many are constantly bombarded with via social media. Launching with a video of a young woman using photo enhancement technology to alter her image for social media, Dove promoted the project with hashtags including #NoDigitalDistortion, along with a pledge and “confidence kit” to help young women build self-confidence without filters and photoshop.
In addition, Dove partnered with celebrities and influencers like Lizzo, who participated in several Q&As for the brand via Instagram in order to drive home the importance of body acceptance, particularly for young women of color. Dove’s original video for the campaign has over 800,000 views on Instagram. Its Q&A with influential women like Lizzo and television creator Shonda Rhimes have likewise reached tens of thousands of viewers.
While most brands would rather their legal woes stay out of the headlines, UK grocery chain Aldi turned a lawsuit into a hilarious Twitter campaign that entertained audiences, earned engagement, and won the retailer quite a lot of positive press.
It all started when Aldi was sued by rival UK grocery chain Marks & Spencer over the intellectual property rights to, of all things, a caterpillar that is a longstanding tradition for British children’s birthday cakes. M&S claimed that Aldi’s caterpillar, Cuthbert, bore too striking a resemblance to their version, Colin the Caterpillar.
And while Aldi does have a bit of a reputation for ripping off other brands, their Twitter campaign begging followers to #FreeCuthbert was entirely original and hugely successful, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes on Twitter for a series of tongue-in-cheek Tweets and winning the battle on social media and in the press in the process. After the Tweets went viral, Aldi even attempted to extend the olive branch to M&S by offering to do a joint Caterpillars Against Cancer fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer and Teenage Cancer Trust.
Another social campaign that highlight an important social cause was Verizon’s #WomenOwnWednesday, which highlights women small business owners once a week via the brand’s social channels, per a company statement:
“[Verizon] will spotlight women entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the country who are making meaningful contributions within their communities. Verizon Business is launching #WomenOwnWednesday, a social media campaign that encourages society to support women-owned businesses every Wednesday. The campaign will kick-off on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.”
In tandem, Verizon also launched its Women’s CoLab, a resource for participating women in business, as well as the Verizon Business Women’s Leadership Digital Summit, which aims to bring together “executives, business owners, essential workers, global decision makers” from all over the world.
Lego: Rebuild the World
To reach Lego enthusiasts, young and old, the toymaker went beyond the regular TV spot or short social clip, supplementing its wildly popular YouTube videos with a short, three-episode series highlighting the benefits of Lego play.
Each episode features and artist or creator leading a conversation with children about how exactly Legos have the power to inspire. In Episode 2, for example, star of Amazon’s upcoming Cinderella film, Billy Porter helps two children build an elaborate Lego crown as they discuss creativity and the power of positivity. The series reads less like marketing and more like an interesting look into what inspires creators to create and what helps foster that creativity in young minds.
Weetabix and Heinz: Beanz on Bix
Aldi wasn’t the only UK company causing chaos on social media this year. In February, Weetabix, a British cereal brand, broke the English internet by suggesting on social media that Weetabix could also be enjoyed topped by Heinz Baked Beans, replacing the preferred carb in the UK classic quick meal, beans on toast.
Good natured outrage quickly ensued, with hundreds of thousands sounding off in the comments or via retweets about the unconventional suggestion. And while dozens of brands tried to get in on the fun by suggesting their own outlandish combinations (like Krispy Kreme doughnuts filled with KFC gravy), it was Weetabix that started the chatter.
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