Growth Diaries: Challenges Faced by Happy Human
In this article, we're diving deep into the challenges faced by Happy Human and the solutions we planned to tackle those with the Growth Grant!
TikTok is a daily ritual of mine. It’s one of the first social media channels I look at when I wake up, and the last one I scroll through before bed.
Over time, I started to notice a pattern: I tend to automatically skip most content from a brand account. But, there are a few brands I don’t swipe up on. Either because the founder is using a personal account to share the company’s story, or they’re acting as the face of the brand by posting personal content on the brand account.
Honestly, I feel the same way about every social media channel I’m on. That’s why I believe if you’re only broadcasting generic, salesy content from your brand account on social media, you’re doing it wrong.
In this article, we researched and interviewed five ecommerce experts who are personally active on social media:
Let’s dive into their opinions and tips.
“I wasn’t interested in being the face of Curie—mainly because it feels like brands with a female founder have had teardown pieces written about them. But once I knew we were gonna be airing on Shark Tank, I didn’t have a choice. I thought, ‘It's happening, might as well lean into it.” - Sarah Moret, Founder of Curie
The truth is, highly polished content from brand accounts just isn’t working like before. Instagram was full of this content—popular influencers living unachievable lifestyles that “regular people” could only dream of.
But the more unrealistic it got, the less people cared. It was difficult to feel connected to a brand that felt fake.
Braxton Manley of Braxley Bands explains it well: “The new generation of conscious consumers is attracted to brand transparency. They want to feel connected to the founders and the mission behind the products they are buying. Meaningfulness sells.”
As a founder, getting on social media and being honest and authentic about your experiences is a better way to connect with today’s consumers.
“Our social media manager sends us a report monthly of our most popular Instagram posts and those that are founder posts do best. We saw the writing on the wall and realized our customers love the human connection,” said Sarah Moret of Curie.
Getting cozy with your audience personally on social media is a great way to humanize your brand. But there are many other reasons as well. Here are four benefits our experts shared:
Adding a personal face to your brand allows customers to look behind the curtain and see what you’re all about. You can share your personal values, why they tie in with your brand’s values, why you built the brand and the mission behind it, and show customers the team working hard to give them a great experience.
These provide customers with reasons to support your mission, and reflect why you’re an authority in the industry. For example, Sarah Moret uses her personal TikTok not just to talk about her products but to show her authority as an expert in the ecommerce space.
One video that did well was Sarah’s story about how creating a hand sanitizer product saved her company from going out of business. Why do videos like these work? Sarah explains, “Our customers love the human connection; they love the story. People love following brands that they're inspired by and can support. Having a face to the brand that inspires you or is a familiar face goes a long way.”
“Gen Z is attracted to authenticity and the emotional drive behind brands. I think many traditional methods of branding are too dull to speak to the younger generation. They want soul!” - Braxton Manley
Unfortunately, algorithms on social media platforms aren’t always kind to brand accounts—unless you have money.
When was the last time you shared an organic post on Facebook that drove a lot of traffic?
Using a personal account, you can “Increase the orbit where your work can travel over social,” said Andy Pearson of Liquid Death. Additionally, he shared that “On a personal level, it’s fun to see people react to your work.”
You also have an opportunity to overwrite certain restrictions that brand accounts get. On TikTok, brand accounts aren’t able to use trending songs in their videos. Since these trends and songs affect whether your video goes on the FYP, it restricts brands from having the same reach as a personal account.
Jon Shanahan, the Co-Founder of STRYX, hopped on the brand’s TikTok to educate people about their products because he knew it would help the brand stand out. But what he didn’t expect was how it helped him meet other experts in the industry and form strong relationships together.
In fact, before STRYX, Jon was actively creating content on YouTube. Here, he made a personal connection that changed his career:
“In the end, we're all trying to do our best work. Unless you promote yourself a little bit, it's tough to stand out. I actually met my co-founder for STRYX through my YouTube channel. If you want to be able to make connections that way, do it through social media and a personal account,” he said.
Now that you understand the benefits of actively being on social media to represent your brand, let’s check out the social accounts of the experts we spoke with for this article.
Fiona Co Chan started posting content on Youthforia’s TikTok to show a different perspective of what it’s like to run the brand and her passion behind the products. Here, for example, in a video where Fiona explains her excitement about their upcoming product and how she and her husband would test Youthforia’s products together.
“Our products are very visual, and with TikTok, you get the opportunity to be demonstrative in your content. TikTok is also a very fun place for discovery and the trends are fun to do,” Fiona said.
In addition, she has videos where she shares what it’s like bootstrapping a small business, causes she’s supporting, and educates people about her products and their benefits.
You’re probably wondering, “How has this impacted Youthforia?”
Here’s what Fiona said: “We’ve seen a lot more brand awareness. We've grown mostly through organic social media, so that trickles into conversions over time.”
“Find a content type that works well for you that you can quickly produce at volume and be authentic.”
When Braxton Manley first created his Instagram account, it was geared toward sharing life updates with family and friends. But since starting Braxley Bands, he has almost 2,000 followers—many of which are customers.
“I think Instagram is the best app for building a personal brand. Or a brand of any kind, really,” he said.
Even though it’s his personal account, he shares about his brand, including new collaborations, products he’s launching, events he’s at, and more. According to Braxton, “You never know who's seeing the post. It could fall into the feed of the person who could take your career and mission to the next level.”
“Put effort into finding and following founders that inspire you. Do what they are doing but be authentic to yourself. You are the best in the world at being you. Instagram is a good long-term play to build a personal brand, and I’m trying to brand myself as a multidisciplinary designer. As Naval says, ‘Productize Yourself.’”
If you ever thought LinkedIn wasn’t a good channel to personally promote your brand, you’re wrong—and Andy Pearson can prove it.
LinkedIn is known for being a bit more “stiff” than other social media platforms, but leading with his personality, Andy found a way to stand out with Liquid Death.
“LinkedIn is honestly a pretty hilarious platform to me for a multitude of reasons. Everyone's so serious and self-promotey. It's ripe for people to come in and have some fun with it. In that setting, Liquid Death does it,” he explained.
Check out this post that Andy wrote about Steve-O getting a tattoo… using Liquid Death water.
According to Andy, LinkedIn’s algorithm is similar to TikTok’s. Posts have better chances of going viral than platforms like Instagram and Facebook. This means reaching people outside of your follower bubble to organically get more eyeballs on your brand.
“Because Liquid Death's content is built for that kind of thing, it makes sense for us to get different entry points into people's feeds. As part of a startup, I'm always looking to raise the profile of our brand—not just amongst the general population but also thought leaders.”
“I don't think you have to overthink. Get credit for the good stuff you're doing. Just do it with some levity. LinkedIn (and the world) are a serious enough place as it is.”
Sarah Moret uses two channels to share what it’s like growing her brand Curie: TikTok and Twitter.
On Twitter, she talks about the tech tools she’s using, recent wins, her opinion on other brands, new products, and more.
Her content on TikTok is similar. She dives in deeper on her hot takes about other brands, her experience on Shark Tank, and life lessons as an entrepreneur.
Sarah’s personal account doesn’t only talk about Curie and its products—she’s actively giving advice to other business owners. However, she said that her being personally active on TikTok has helped Curie grow:
“TikTok is a huge part of our sales. Our organic TikTok is driving a lot of traffic to our website. It's hard to tell if it's coming from the Curie TikTok or the Sarah TikTok, but we think of them as connected,” she explained.
“Authenticity is important. Don't try too hard. In half of my videos, I'm wearing no makeup with a greasy bun. It's not high production value. It's just … Boom, here are my thoughts. And I post it. Those are always the ones that do the best. Also, talk about what you're excited about. Chances are, other people are too.”
Mentioned earlier, Jon Shanahan isn’t using a personal account on TikTok. Instead, he’s become the face of STRYX’s brand account. On TikTok, Jon shares tutorials for masculine makeup, product education, and behind the scenes of the brand. The brand doesn’t even use its logo on their profile—it’s a picture of Jon.
“I have yet to find a successful brand on TikTok without a face or personality because TikTok is a very personal channel,” said Jon. “I haven’t found another brand in my space (men’s skincare and makeup) that has been able to get nearly the attraction that we have. And I account that to the fact that I'm the founder making videos talking about the brand from a wider customer perspective.”
With 243K followers and 8.9M likes, Jon’s strategy is working effectively. According to Jon, TikTok is STRYX’s number one growth channel. STRYX was even featured by Business Insider as one of the top 25 fastest-growing DTC brands.
“There’s nothing else growing our company like TikTok right now,” said Jon.
“If you're a growing brand, you have a competitive advantage against giant companies that are afraid of these channels. You just have to get the bad videos out; I probably have 50 YouTube videos before I found my groove. Also, there's never been a better time to jump into TikTok to grow the audience. ”
One key takeaway is a quote from Andy at Liquid Death: “Platforms want brands to pay for eyeballs.”
With that, it’s helpful to create a personal account on 1-2 channels your customers are active on and become the face of your brand. With consistency, authenticity, and passion, you can find a niche audience that becomes extremely loyal to both you and your brand.
If creating a personal account isn’t something in your plans right now, you can put yourself on your brand account instead like Jon and Fiona.
Either way, with the massive growth of TikTok in recent years, it’s a channel you should consider. We have a detailed guide on TikTok for businesses here to help you get started.