Five times social media shook mainstream media in 2021

From TikTok star, Addison Rae's Netflix debut to YouTubers taking over The Met Gala.
Five times social media shook mainstream media in 2021

2021 was another year of huge growth for the creator economy and social media.


50 million people in the world now consider themselves a creator and we’re spending an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes on social platforms each day! From Instagram to TikTok and YouTube, these platforms and their creators are becoming so influential that they’re no longer just a reflection of what’s happening in mainstream media, they’re shaping it.

So as the year draws to a close, we’re taking a look at the moments social media shook mainstream media in 2021.


#1 YouTubers take over the Met Gala 


Creators’ presence was stronger than ever at this years iconic Met Gala. Alongside the usual fashionistas and celebrities were YouTubers NikkieTutorials, Jackie Aina and Eugene Lee Yang, but belle of the ball had to be Emma Chamberlain. The YouTube sensation didn’t just attend, she represented Vogue, interviewing celebrities as they walked down the red carpet. The influencer has come a long way from her days of vlogging, starting at just 16-years-old. Now 20, she boasts over 10.8M YouTube subscribers, over 14.5M Instagram followers, is a Louis Vuitton’s ambassador, and has ticked “Attend The Met” off her bucket list. 

Influencers’ presence at the exclusive event reflects their increased value in the fashion and entertainment world, and helps make it more relevant to the Gen Z audience. 

#2 Famous TikToker lands a lead role in a Netflix movie


If you’re on TikTok then you’ve most likely heard of the name, Addison Rae. The viral TikToker started posting dance videos on the platform in the Summer of 2019 and went on to become one of the app’s most famous creators. 

After rising to TikTok stardom, Addison Rae scored herself the lead role in Netflix’s new “He’s All That” movie, a remake of “She’s All That”. Netflix has since announced a multi-movie deal with the TikTok star. This year, her TikTok fame also landed her on ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ after becoming best buds with Kourtney Kardashian. She also released her first single, ‘Obsessed’ in March. 

Rae has powerfully managed to take her social media presence and use it to transition into more traditional forms of media. This has allowed her to make a name for herself within the entertainment industry and we expect to see more from her in 2022.

#3 TikTok’s viral ‘Little Lad’ shoots for PAPER Magazine


Yet again, TikTok’s virality proves how powerful it is in influencing mainstream media. This September, we couldn’t escape the ‘berries and cream’ trend on TikTok. Our FYPs were filled with remixes of Starburst’s 2007 ‘Berries and Cream’ commercial. The character in the brand’s ad, ‘The Little Lad’, also went viral and the actor who played the character in the original ad soon after joined the platform.  

PAPER Magazine seized the opportunity, collaborating with The Little Lad on an editorial shoot, where the star wore Gucci, AREA and BODE. It’s ‘berry’ impressive watching this once-forgotten about character turn into a viral trend and a 2021 fashion icon. The power of TikTok!


THIS is fashion ✨ link in bio for all the pics #fashiontiktok #imaphotographer #littlelad @thereallittlelad

♬ original sound – Kiera Lyons 🕯🕰🗝

#4 TikTok’s most viral sister duo secures their own reality show


2021 was TikTok’s year. Alongside it’s growing popularity, the platform has been partly responsible for producing some of the most famous – and influential – Gen Zers in recent times. That includes the D’Amelio sisters, who have garnered a combined TikTok following of over 168.7 million and secured their own reality show, streaming via Hulu and Disney+. Yet another example of our phone screens influencing our TV screens.

The D’Amelio’s show follows the family as they navigate their new-found fame. Alongside the eight-part series, they’ve also landed sponsorship deals with brands like EOS cosmetics and Hollister, appeared in commercials, released music and attended Paris Fashion Week.

#5 A viral TikTok challenge inspired this US alcohol brand’s TV ad


In a bid to connect with Gen Z, US alcohol brand, Coors Seltzer replicated a TikTok trend in one of their television ads. The brand can’t organically promote their alcoholic products on the platform. So instead, they jumped on a TV version of the “Silhouette Challenge” that went viral in February this year.

In case you missed it, the empowering trend celebrated all types of body shapes. When the lights dimmed, the creators’ silhouette appeared in a doorway against red backlighting. Using the same red filter, a silhouette of a cold can of their seltzer and the remix of Paul Anka’s ‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder’ and Doja Cat’s ‘Streets’, Coors replicated the trend on a national level. To cement their position in the trending social conversation, they then added the text overlay, ‘AMERICA’S NEWEST THIRST TRAP’ and hashtag #GETTHIRSTY. Being highly aware of new social trends has become key for brands to market their products effectively in 2021. 

If you want to keep on top of what’s trending on TikTok, follow us there for updates!

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