#ShotoniPhone: A Picture Perfect Campaign

Hayley Carter
5 min readSep 19, 2020


Businesses are always looking for ways to stand out on social media. We’ve discussed the need for an overarching social media strategy to create a set of goals, roll out a content plan, and optimize results. Within this broader marketing plan, companies will also implement smaller, coordinated operations to achieve specific, measurable goals over a set period of time. These are known as social media campaigns.

A successful social media campaign promotes a product/service, builds awareness around the company, and creates a sense of community. With ideal results, it stands out and gets people’s attention. We’ll take a closer look at Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign, which successfully caught the attention of millions of users around the world.

Apple on Social Media

Apple has a unique social media strategy. It is unique in the fact there doesn’t seem to be much of one, at least compared to other companies. There are no Facebook posts by the company on a central page, but Apple does incorporate occasional Facebook ads. Similarly, there are no tweets on a central Twitter page, but they have recently introduced a customer service page where questions and comments can be addressed. Apple does not push out a ton of social media content, but a closer look reveals its strategy relies on content generated from its users. That’s where Instagram comes into play.

Apple’s Instagram is completely devoted to the “Shot on iPhone” campaign. In March 2015, six months after the iPhone 6 launch, the campaign was launched to highlight the phone’s new camera. On initial launch, photos were used from 77 users, across 25 countries and 73 cities. It was a worldwide challenge that invited users to submit their own best photos using the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. From these photos, Apple selected images to display across media outlets and on over 10,000 billboards around the world.

Brand Awareness and Engagement

The goal of this campaign was simple: get people talking about the new iPhone. And that they did! According to TBWA Media Arts Lab, the campaign was mentioned by 24,000 opinion leaders, with an estimated 6.5 billion media impressions and 95% positive mentions. Since then, Apple regenerated the competition with the iPhone 7 and X, indicating that it met Apple’s criteria for a successful campaign.

The campaign was touted as well-aligned to Apple’s DNA: “It is all about lifestyle, imagination, liberty regained, innovation, passion, and power-to-the-people through technology.” Apple was not only trying to gain attention for the camera quality of the iPhone 6; it was also trying to gain attention for its stance as a new and innovative company. Apple wanted existing users to be part of and take pride in their product launch, but they also wanted to introduce new users to the excitement of being a member of the Apple community.

Apple has now posted 671 times, all posts that have been submitted by users of the iPhone, and the account is followed by a staggering 23.8 million people. There are currently over 16 million mentions using the #ShotoniPhone hashtag. Users are aware of Apple and are more engaged than ever.

A User-Generated Community

By launching this campaign and focusing on user-generated content, Apple created a community of users all working together. It wasn’t just about taking a picture. Users were now part of the brand; when they saw their pictures or videos posted, they felt like they were helping contribute to the company’s success. The company and the users essentially became one. This sense of community led to a brand retention rate of a staggering 90%.

Beyond building a community, user-generated content also leads to credibility and trust. Even though this campaign was run by Apple, all content was generated by actual people. People trust people. Content created by peers is more influential than brand created content; users are more likely to engage with UGC and to view it as authentic. In the case of Apple, individuals see amazing photos being taken by people just like them, and they believe they can do the same. Apple capitalizes on this.

A Sales Driver

From the #ShotoniPhone campaign, Apple raised brand awareness, encouraged brand engagement, and successfully built a loyal community. All of this can be measured by media attention, followers, mentions, impressions, shares, comments, and other various KPIs. As previously mentioned, Apple knocked all of these numbers out of the park. But what are all of these goals for? Ultimately, they are meant to drive sales.

Along with the 2015 campaign launch, Apple sold over 231 million iPhones, up 62 million from the previous year. Are all of those extra 62 million from the campaign? No. But the campaign clearly had an impact. People around the world were talking about Apple’s contest, current users were participating, and non-users either followed along or became users themselves. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world, and it has done so with a concentrated social media effort built on its own users.


There is no singular method of achieving social media success. Companies can follow in the footsteps of Apple and create campaigns centered around user-generated content, or they can generate brand-created material and advertisements. Regardless, they need to be specific about the goal(s) they choose, measure accordingly, and adjust continuously.