ContentCal's Social Media Hall of Fame for 2021
Our social media hall of fame represents stand-out personalities from the world of social media marketing from the last 12 months.
24th November 2021
As 2021 draws to a close, it's the perfect time to reflect on everything that's happened in the world of content marketing this year. And it's a lot. But Meta (we can't get used to it either) and TikTok drama aside, it's not about what happened, but who made it happen.
There were so many great campaigns across social and beyond, including Colin the Caterpillar vs Cuthbert, Burger King's impromptu re-brand to promote their new range, and Weetabix on beans (which we never want to see again). Each of these campaigns was created in a time of uncertainty and when marketer's jobs were arguably harder and more unknown than ever, with the need to take on more and adapt to a virtual way of life - but we did it! We made it through and survived another crazy year in the world of content. Well done to marketers everywhere!
Here are just some of the people who have inspired us to create even better content this year:
Copywriting is never easy - not for a brand, and especially not for another person. With an audience of over 1.2 million, Steven Bartlett is one of the biggest influencers in the digital marketing space, and Grace Andrews is the woman behind the magic of his social accounts, juggling both paid promotions and organic content. If that isn't impressive enough, not only does Grace run Steven's social channels, but her own too, building her personal brand The Social Climber, which offers (much needed) advice on how to succeed in the digital arena.
Doubling an app's downloads is something the most experienced of marketers would struggle to do, even with huge budgets to help them., but Anya, an intern at dating app Thursday, achieved this with just $35 and some major creativity. Her attention-grabbing stunts included handcuffing herself to a lamppost for their 'cuffing season' campaign, and standing on a busy London street covered in balloons to grab attention. An effective, modern take on an old-school approach that massively paid off, and showed that Thursday wipes the ground with its bigger competitors when it comes to personality.
Few brands know fan loyalty like Gymshark, a UK-born fitness and apparel brand. Gymshark has 7 million engaged social media followers across 131 countries and over 60m followers when combined with its team of brand ambassadors. Its impressive, yet distinctive social content is headed up by Elfried Samba, who has transformed the brand's social approach by building a community like no other. One of their most powerful channels is their Spotify account! How many of us can say that? The brand is hyper-targeted with audience attraction (they have three Gymshark Instagram accounts alone, all with a different purpose) and uses trend-led content to attract a younger audience and encourage fitness newbies to get involved.
When thinking about a social media hall of fame, it would be a miracle for John Thornton and his work on Innocent's social accounts not to be the first name that pops into your head. Achieving a whopping 215% ROI on content, Innocent's personality is infectious - and they don't even have to mention their products to make you want a smoothie! (Reaches for the blue one...or is it green?!)
Innocent love to take risks with content (just look back at the infamous conker-gate) and use an 'if you're 70% sure, go for it' methodology when it comes to being reactive. The perfect example of the importance of trust within content teams. We can't wait to see what stunt John pulls next.
M&S is one of the few brands out there right now absolutely nailing their YouTube strategy. By honing in on their specialty (food!) they use current trends on YouTube to come up with content that fits seamlessly with other videos you'd expect to see on there, including recipes, an episodic celebrity cooking show series, and takeovers from well-known chefs. Emma Sleight is the Head of Food Content for M&S and has undoubtedly been an essential part of their success, racking up over 250,000 views on some of the simplest videos.
M&S has also pivoted towards short-form video with 133k followers on TikTok, showing off their latest products, jumping on trends to attract a new, younger audience, and using their mascot, the much-loved Percy Pig to their advantage.
TikTok was never intended to be a space for brands, but with the most unexpected of contenders racking up millions of followers, Ryanair is making a serious case for putting resources into short-form video. Michael credits the brand's TikTok success to a) showing up early and experimenting with a new audience (because why wouldn't you want to open up your content to even more people?) and b) losing the corporate tone of voice they were previously known for, to adopt a tone that matched the TikTok audience.
The proof that it works? Ryanair received 31 million views on a piece of unplanned content that took minutes to create in their office! They're now trailblazing by delivering traditional PR in a modern way, and every brand is following in their lead.
Success on social media is content that grabs attention and peaks interest - even if it’s a boring subject! You can still be reactive by jumping on trends, using bright and bold graphics, and utilizing user-generated content...all while remaining totally compliant. This is exactly how Richard has transformed Monzo's social strategy to make them stand -out from other banks (the pink cards help too). By providing fun, genuine, human stories rather than adverts, or being too finance focused - audiences can really relate to the brand and engage with them. Given that bankers are in the top 10 least-trusted professions - this is a huge step forward for modern financial institutions, and something other industries can learn from.
Carrie started Rise at Seven three years ago (along with co-founder Stephen Kenwright), and it's since grown to global status with clients such as Missguided, ODEON, and GoCompare, who all love the agency for its creative-first approach to digital PR and unique ability to combine SEO with creative assets.
Carrie opens opportunities at Rise at Seven to industry newbies who catch her eye on social (and trust us, there are a LOT of people who want a job there) and keeps regular video diaries of what goes on inside the agency on her vlog series, The Sauce. Carrie has officially made SEO cool again.
Strong Black Lead is a sub-brand of Netflix that amplifies content specifically targeted to various areas of the Black experience - not just through streaming, but by building a full-experience online community, which has grown to over 700,000 followers on Instagram alone. Jasmyn has been an integral part of scaling the program by producing the podcasts Strong Black Laughs and Strong Black Legends, and advocating for Netflix to pick up the rights to major Black sitcoms.
As part of the space, Netflix hosts its own book club (with work from Black authors), champions educational content to engage wider audiences and enables creators who are underrepresented and struggling to gain recognition.
Deliveroo kept us fed, and most importantly, entertained during the pandemic. They've also come up with some pretty amazing campaigns along the way too. They offered free food to social media managers that dreaded day when every platform went down (we don't talk about that), and even paired up with the England football squad to cheer them on during the Euros, with classic chants on ads and reinvented lyrics to be around takeaways.
Greggs are great for a social-led PR stunt. Whether it's the launch of a new vegan product or the introduction of the classic festive bake, you know that when they post product-led content, it's going to feel very natural and actually make you want to interact! Not many brands can say that.
When you follow Greggs on social you can also expect plenty of topical content, relevant to what's trending in the world - whether it's the Great British Bake Off, or even a climate crisis protest. They're also pretty notorious for witty brand-on-brand interaction that transform them from high-street bakery chain, to stand-out personalities in a saturated space. Bravo, Greggs!
Born Social are on a mission to make a social-first approach the norm for all businesses. Callum, along with the rest of his team have worked with major clients such as Nando's, Tinder, Kopparberg and CitizenM this year alone to transform their content.
Their approach? Taking existing trending content on social and making it relevant to their client! Their food porn recipe videos to promote Nando's new at-home kits have over 20 million impressions - something a generic ad would never have been able to achieve.
Callum champions Born Social's white paper on how to pivot to a social-first way of thinking, and you can take a read for yourself here.
Social success comes from differentiating yourself from other brands, and where Peanut has got is right is taking the most taboo topics in their space and turning them into educational, community-based resources that a lot of new mums can benefit from in a way that's not patronising.
Hannah is Head of Brand Marketing and Communication and has no doubt been pivotal in the UGC approach to community-building that's grown Peanut's audience to over half a million on Instagram alone.
Peanut's honest content around parenthood breaks down barriers and connects families who are used to navigating the world of online forums to get answers. They present advice, jokes and support in digestible, modern formats such as live audio spaces and infographics, and we love it.