BrandTotal Presents: The Top Performers Across Social Media for 2021

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2021 was a year like no other. There were challenges, there were opportunities, and from a paid social media perspective, there were brands that surmounted these challenges and took advantage of these opportunities. 

Which brands attracted the most love from fans from paid social media activities in 2021? Which generated the most engagement? Which brands were the biggest spenders on specific campaigns over the year?

Welcome to BrandTotal’s Top Ads post, where we present the brands that led the way on social media for 2021. You’ll see what worked and why, how the leading brands are generating social media success, and a whole lot more!

BrandTotal’s Top Charts include three categories. This blog will cover the top 5 in each category, but you can access the full top 10 lists in the full report here

  • Top 5 Most Engaging Ads, measured by reactions, shares, and comments
  • Top 5 Most Loved Ads, measured by the most positive emotions captured in BrandTotal’s sentiment analysis
  • Top 5 Spenders, those ads with the highest spend behind them 

Top 5 Most Engaging Ads

  1. Huawei: Titan Robot 
  2. Nike: To every mother, everywhere
  3. Amazon Prime Video: meme ad 
  4. Samsung Mobile: #GalaxyS21 Ultra 5G 
  5. The Fast Saga: F9 Trailer 

Top 5 Most Loved Ads

  1. Apple: #AppleEvent 
  2. T-Mobile: #TMobileGiving 
  3. American Express: Platinum x Kehinde Wiley 
  4. Best Buy: Same-day delivery 
  5. Nissan: Brie Larson #FindYourFrontier 

Top 5 Spenders

  1. Blankos 
  2. Speechify 
  3. Honey 
  4. Shopify 
  5. Discover 

The Top 5 Lists

Top 5 Most Engaging

This year's most engaging ads were all run on Facebook and Instagram. In first place, as the most engaging ad of 2021, is Huawei, with its Titan Robot guide. The ad generated a massive 50k comments and over 200k shares. 

In second place was Nike, with its powerful “To every mother, everywhere: you are the toughest athlete.” The inspirational ad creative features pregnant moms working out. 

In third place is Amazon Prime Video, with an ad that’s based on a popular meme, featuring the sarcastic caption, “Oh look, another glorious morning. Makes me sick..” 

Coming in at #4 is Samsung, where the brand introduces the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. The ad features a luxurious close-up of the device, and simple text.

In fifth place is the trailer from The Fast Saga, promoting the F9 movie.

Top 5 Most Loved

2021’s Most Loved ads were all on Twitter. The #1 Most Loved ad for 2021 was from Apple, announcing the Apple Event. In a genius marketing move, the ad encouraged readers to “Tap the ❤️” and get a reminder on the day of the event. 

In 2nd place was T-Mobile, where fans were asked to choose #TeamApplePie or #TeamPumpkinPie for a chance to win $300 towards a holiday dinner.

In 3rd place was American Express, with its collaboration with Kehinde Wiley on Twitter. The ad copy promises “Like this tweet to reveal a surprise!” which is part of the reason for the positive sentiment around the ad. 

In 4th spot was Best Buy and its collaboration with Rome Green Jr for a cute “same-day delivery” ad, featuring a gift for Mom. 

Coming in at #5 was Nissan, featuring its collaboration with Brie Larsson for its All-New Frontier. 

Top 5 Spenders

First place in “Top Spenders” for 2021 goes to Blankos, the multiplayer online game that features digital assets and NFTs. 

In second place is Speechify, with its campaigns around helping different types of people by reading text out loud. 

In the third spot is Honey, with the brand’s collaboration with Linus and its $5,000 PC giveaway.

Fourth place goes to Shopify, which shows how to start an online business in just one ad, and features a four-legged friend to guide you along. 

In 5th place is Discover, with an innovative video campaign – that features no video. This audio-only ad showcases the brand’s Cashback Match. 

Trends and Learnings

Many of the trends identified in the full Top 10 Ads report point to what are likely going to be even bigger trends in 2022. The report also highlights which industries and segments are likely going to be the most hotly contested.

Want to read the full report? Download it here.