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TikTok for Personal Branding in the New Normal

TikTok for Personal Branding in the New Normal

By Kaartheik Geiyan & Hu Hui Hui (BAC Apprentices)


From Facebook to Instagram, social media is no stranger to brands. But what is this new app by a Beijing-based company that has led to rave reviews by millennials?    

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. It is a platform which sparks creativity by allowing users to create fun and creative content in the form of 15- second videos (up to a maximum of 3 minutes) for their audiences.  


 How professionals in the legal field have been utilizing TikTok   

TikTok’s diverse content kept Cecillia Xie, an associate at Morrison & Foerster, entertained as she sheltered in place during the early wave of Covid in hard-hit New York City. “People want to know what the truth is and what is the good and the bad about the legal profession,” she said.  Her video poking fun at the different ‘work from home’ realities of lawyers and marketing professionals was an instant hit, racking up more than 900,000 views. The fun pastime became a window into Xie’s New York City lawyer lifestyle as she debunked the myths of law school and the law profession.  

Joanne Molinaro, a bankruptcy litigator in Chicago who also downloaded the app in quarantine, started her TikTok journey with similar lawyer lifestyle videos and a dash of commentary on the Trump presidency and mass pandemic denial. Accompanying each video of hers are stories from the daughter of Korean immigrants’ childhood and family, meant to spread compassion for the immigrant experience. She now shares these stories with some 2 million followers. “The Korean Vegan (the name of her food blog) will always take a backseat to my clients,” she told Bloomberg Law.   

“Fumnanya” Ekhator, was already an internet creative before she joined TikTok. The seven-year YouTube veteran’s channel features makeup tutorials, dating guides, and law school advice, among other videos. Ekhator’s videos on the app have evolved like those of many of her Big Law peers, morphing from law school jokes to social justice advocacy amid last year’s protests. Now she’s focused on lifestyle tips, relationship advice, and mental wellness.   

The three women say clear social media guidelines, such as omitting affiliation with one’s firm online, keep them in check. Most political commentary is acceptable if shared solely as one’s own opinion, Xie said.  


 Now the question is:  Why TikTok for brand recognition? 


  1. A huge audience reach      

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok’s popularity has been growing tremendously. Reportedly amassing over 1 billion active monthly users, it is no surprise that TikTok has been topping the list of the most downloaded apps in 2021. A user is said to spend about an average of 52 to 80 minutes on the app daily.   

With TikTok’s recommendation system, there is no need to have a strong base of followers to go viral. With the appropriate hashtags coupled with the use of trendy songs, and of course interesting content, the algorithm will enable engagement with your targeted audience to easily bear fruit. Good content is also essential and in that regard, one should adopt the same approach used when coming up with blog post ideas. It should be about some of the current issues or topics that interests your target audience.  


  1. Genius algorithm  

    Connecting with audiences is key to marketing.   


Everybody loves a tailored experience. TikTok’s #ForYou feed is designed specifically for a calibrated and personalized experience for its users.   

How it works: What appears on your feed is curated based on user interaction; i.e user’s level of interest. For example, if a user watches a video from beginning to end or is responsive (by liking or sharing it) of a particular genre of content, it indicates where the user’s interest lies and therefore, your feed is personalised based on such data.   

With this in mind, a brand’s focal point, to maximize performance, would be to notice how users are interacting with their videos and to curate their content based on the engagement.   


  1. Advertising 

And then there is ‘TikTok ads’. With this, you don’t have to spend a lot of time building an audience. You set up an ad campaign, and you’ll be able to reach your target audience—often within 24 hours. With custom audience targeting, you’re able to target people who have already interacted with your brand. There is also something known as lookalike audiences. With this targeting method, you’re able to reach people similar to an existing audience.   


  1. Creative features 


 With TikTok’s whole list of creative features (i.e music, special filters, visual effects, sound effects, reactions etc), businesses can go wild with their creativity and be as authentic as possible in showcasing their branding.     

It’s a good idea to create a detailed bio though, so people have some context on who you are, and what your business is about. You can use the bio to encourage a certain kind of action, such as joining your email list or following your account. If you want to add a link to your website, you should use the dedicated website section in the “account preferences” area.   


All in all, Malaysians should  utilise  the opportunities that come with TikTok and a general social media presence during these unprecedented times; while those in the legal line would also do well to keep within the guidelines set out by our Bar Council, as well as the Legal Profession (Publicity) Rules 2001.