“Personal branding” is a term that has grown in relevance in recent years. But what is it? Personal branding refers to the narrative around how others perceive you based on your area of expertise, personality, influence, experience, and more. With social media giving us a glimpse into the lives of millions of people around us, your presence online becomes the first impression to many and, ultimately, your personal brand. Whether you are looking for a new job, reaching out to new clients, or partnering with someone in your industry, your personal brand can play a crucial role in giving you that extra leverage you need.
Personal Branding & Social Media
While this might seem like a new phenomenon, personal branding has been around forever. Celebrities, politicians, news reporters, and more all have their own personal brands, making some more desirable than others. The only difference is that in the past, only public-facing individuals had the opportunity to introduce themselves to millions of people at once. Today, one post on TikTok can go viral and introduce your brand to the masses, even with minimal followers.
How can you decide which social media platform you should dedicate your time to with so many out there? Johnson & Wales University marketing professor and online instructor Kristen Regine, DBA, believes that individuals should think of each of these platforms as tools. Each app provides value in its own way, and it is how you leverage these tools that can help you grow a strong personal brand.
Why You Should Build Your Personal Brand on TikTok
Depending on your industry and target market, TikTok might be a good place for you to cultivate a social presence. Statista reports that 62% of TikTok users are aged between 10 and 29 years old, so clearly, the demographic skews to a younger population. With that said, the advanced algorithm that TikTok uses helps its users grow by placing content in front of people who may be interested. This means that whether you sell life insurance, are a graphic designer, or participate in the viral dances, TikTok will help get your content in front of the users who want it most. This is called organic reach, and it is what sets TikTok apart from other social media platforms.
If you want to grow your brand fast on other social media apps, you likely need to pay for targeted ads to get your message in front of the right users. TikTok seems to do that for its users for free, so it can be an essential tool for someone just getting started.
“It’s about breaking through the clutter,” Regine said about leveraging social media to build your personal brand. According to Regine, your name recognition when someone sees you on their feed is crucial to your growth. With influencers, businesses, friends, and more filling up your timeline, you need to find a way to stand out. TikTok, more than any other platform, gives content creators every opportunity to breakthrough. In fact, the social media platform offers free courses through the TikTok Business Learning Center to make you a bona fide expert of the platform.
How TikTok Capitalizes on Authenticity
I know what you might be thinking: isn’t TikTok just for dancing? Actually, no! While the platform uses viral dances to grow its own brand, you don’t need to post videos of you dancing to grow yours. All you need is short, digestible snippets of you talking to your audience and sharing your expertise. If you are not comfortable getting in front of the camera, you can record your voice's audio with stock videos and captions. The key to TikTok is authenticity. Be honest with yourself whether video, audio, or written word is your strength, and lean into it. Trying to be something you are not will not look good for your personal brand.
Building a personal brand that represents you is a never-ending process. Leveraging the tools that are out there to get you in front of the right people is the first step to building your personal brand.