Your brand’s TikTok account might not make nearly the same impact as a personal account.
For years, TikTok has been a popular space for businesses trying to market their brands. According to the social media giant, nearly five million businesses have joined the platform and created brand accounts to market themselves through crafted, polished content.
However, founders are increasingly shifting toward using personal accounts to get real about themselves and their organizations. And that content — from “a day in the life of a founder” videos to “get ready with me” videos that focus an entrepreneur’s life story — is resonating with viewers. So much so that earlier this month, Maureen Kelly, the founder and CEO of Tarte Cosmetics, used her personal account to respond to backlash about an influencer trip that her company had organized.
“Social media allows us to be closer, supposedly, to people than we would have before,” says Jessica Maddox, an assistant professor of digital media at the University of Alabama. “A brand is more accessible, and people may feel more likely to engage with it if they see a person as opposed to a company or a product.”
Here’s what you need to know about creating a personal account on TikTok.
1. Personal accounts have better reach and engagement
Jade Beguelin, the co-founder of New York City-based e-commerce skin care business 4AM Skin, says 88 percent of purchasing customers heard about her company on TikTok. She suspects many of those customers came from her personal account, not her company’s brand account. 4AM Skin declined to provide annual revenue.
Beguelin’s personal TikTok account has more than 65,000 followers and 3.4 million likes. Her brand’s account, on the other hand, has over 13,500 followers and 428,000 likes. This disparity in metrics between personal and brand accounts is not uncommon.
Maddox says personal accounts perform better than brand accounts because they tap into para-social relationships. This sociological concept, exacerbated by social media, is where followers feel closer to an individual than they are in reality. Ultimately, this leads to better engagement on personal accounts because the relationship between follower and founder feels authentic and close.
Alex Weitzman is the founder of Amori, a Miami-based audio dating app. She was able to onboard 3,000 users from a single TikTok with 2.3 million views on her personal account, and those users became highly engaged with the brand. “We ended up getting a really strong set of users from it that built, like, an entire community,” Weitzman says.
2. Authenticity comes more naturally to people than brands
Authenticity is a social media marketing buzzword for a reason — it draws people in. But content posted through brand accounts is, almost inevitably, less authentic than content that would be posted through a personal account: Videos posted on a brand account have to align with the company’s voice and follow its guidelines.
But recently, Maddox says, content posted through brand accounts has become even less authentic. TikTok content overall has shifted toward “highlight reel performance,” she says, and videos — especially those published by brand accounts — are becoming much more polished and less “raw.”
Personal TikTok accounts are an easy way to return to a focus on authenticity. Maddox recommends that entrepreneurs portray their true selves and demystify the founder lifestyle through popular TikTok formats such as storytimes.
Beguelin has adopted this technique on her account. She says her broader strategy is “more about getting to know me, and sprinkling 4AM in there as naturally as possible.”
3. New networking opportunities are emerging
LinkedIn and email are still staples for networking, but personal TikTok accounts are quickly emerging as an avenue for opportunity and connection.
“TikTok has this way of bringing together people who have similar problems in life, or are going through similar things,” Weitzman says. “I see it as a great way to target a certain audience, and also work with people who are in the same space.”
Weitzman has used her personal TikTok account to connect with the startup community and find “other dating TikTokkers” interested in content collaborations and marketing opportunities. Weitzman has filmed on-the-street interviews with entrepreneurs she’s connected with on TikTok and plans to host events with other TikTokkers in the future.
Beguelin says she has secured some opportunities as a result of her brand account but receives more requests — including for investor meetings and retail opportunities — through her personal account. She says this is due to a very simple fact: People can see her face.
“I think that it has given me a way to, like, get into a lot of rooms that I maybe wouldn’t have been able to be in otherwise,” Beguelin says of her personal account.