Brand accounts are dead.
Well, kind of.
If you want to make social media growth as HARD as possible for yourself, here’s what I’d do:
- Start a new brand account on a social media platform of your choice.
- Make it faceless. Nobody should know who is behind the account.
- Start posting and expect people to care.
Can it work?
But it’s like the equivalent of pulling up the the gym for an already difficult workout…
And tossing on a 25lb weighted vest for good measure — because you enjoy pain.
That’s some CrossFit shit. Lmao. They’re psychopaths, if you didn’t know.
Social media managers enjoy pain. I get it. Why else would we sign up for this job? (Kidding, kidding!! 🤣)
But come on… wouldn’t you like to make your job just a bit easier going into next year?
Cool. Stick with me then.
Why don’t brand accounts alone work for new companies?
The simple answer:
You don’t have brand recognition.
People don’t know you like they know:
- The Los Angeles Lakers
These brands have decades worth of a head start and millions (probably billions) of dollars spent on marketing to make sure damn near everyone in the country is aware of them.
Your 3 month old tech startup or DTC makeup brand? Not quite there.
And here’s the thing:
Social media management for BOTH legacy brands and new startups is an incredibly challenging job. This isn’t meant to say that running a Fortune 100 brand account is easy.
If anything, that level of recognition brings its own challenges (that I wouldn’t want to deal with).
As a startup, your main challenge is:
Nobody knows who you are and nobody cares about you.
That’s the first half of the ‘why brand accounts suck for startups’ equation. The second half has to do with user behavior.
People don’t log into social media to keep up with their favorite brand accounts. Even brands with massive name recognition don’t have this luxury.
People (aka your potential customers) use social media to:
- Keep up with friends and family
- Consuming interesting content
- Be entertained
They don’t use it to search out the latest 2000 word blog post from a fintech SaaS and immediately click off site to read it.
- Your brand doesn’t have the recognition needed to stop the scroll with its logo alone
- Even if it did… people still aren’t using social to follow brand accounts
Good news: there’s a solution.
Here’s what I’d do instead (and am currently doing with success for myself and several clients)
Enter, founder-led social growth.
I tweeted a TLDR version of this yesterday:
But I’d like to expand (and show you a few examples).
Also, let me be clear. This ‘playbook’ isn’t new.
It’s been around for years. Marketing legend Dave Gerhardt even wrote a book on it.
Why does founder-led growth work?
First, it leans into a core behavior on social media: people follow people, not brands.
Think about it.
I’d bet good money that you follow + consume content from a decent handful of creators (or influencers or whatever you call them now).
But brand accounts? You might not even follow any outside of ‘research’ purposes for your job. I know I don’t.
On top of that, a founder-led social presence gives your audience of potential customers someone to root for.
People love an underdog story. If you start documenting the journey of:
- building your product
- hitting obstacles
- sharing wins
Potential customers (people in your niche) will start to follow along. This is the playbook that Marcus Milione ran with his apparel brand, Minted New York — and now he’s selling out drop after drop. It’s wild.
That said… brand accounts are still needed
You’re a building a brand. You’re not trying to be an influencer.
And in the long run, your brand needs to be able to function independent from you (or your founder).
Well, if you want to exit the day-to-day operations and/or get acquired for a large sum of money at some point down the line.
If your entire brand is dependent on you as a person to be motivated to create content, this is going to be tough.
At the beginning, this is okay. Needed, even — for the reasons we just discussed.
And this stage could last for years. That’s okay.
But once you start to gain real momentum from your founder’s account, you should start to siphon off some of those followers and engagement into a brand account.
My good friend Daniel Murray ran this playbook to perfection with his media empire — The Marketing Millennials.
Daniel started off by building his personal LinkedIn account to ~70,000 followers. He was crushing and getting insane engagement on his stuff.
Then — and only then — did he start up the Marketing Millennials company page.
The MM page took off because of the momentum and goodwill he’d created from his personal account. And now…
- It’s 4-5x bigger than his personal audience
- He’s been able to separate himself from content performance on the MM page
- He’s been able to funnel tens of thousands of engaged followers from LinkedIn to an owned asset (The Marketing Millennials newsletter)
Going back, if Daniel would have started grinding away at a company page with NO personal momentum, he wouldn’t have the media empire he has now. At least not yet.
Personal social media accounts fast track success for brand social media accounts.
And a brand social media account is needed to separate yourself from the success of a business.
One isn’t ‘better’ than the other. It just depends on the stage of business that you’re in.
Examples for you to study:
Marcus started off by building an audience in the health, fitness, and fashion space during the COVID pandemic.
He then launched two businesses related to content in those niches Minted New York (an apparel brand) and Minted Health (a supplement company).
His personal social presence continues to drive sold out drops time and time again.
Like I said earlier…
Daniel started off by growing a killer audience on his personal LinkedIn sharing marketing advice and curating some of the best marketing content.
He then launched the Marketing Millennials company page, skyrocketing that to 500K+ engaged followers (using his personal audience to kickstart that growth).
Example 3: George Heaton and Represent Clothing
Example 4: Triple Whale (and our entire team)
Why did a SaaS Twitter account take off overnight?
Well, besides having a super talented SMM (😉🤣), a major driver of success on the platform is that our marketing team is active and visible on Twitter.
People know who’s behind the brand account, so it’s easier for them to form a connection with it… and this led to insane growth and engagement for an account in our niche.
TW is also a great example that you don’t NEED your founders to be the people that are front facing on social.
You can use this approach with your CMO or even other members of your marketing team.
The point is that PEOPLE from your brand should be front facing early on — founder or not.
Nick Bare is a well-known fitness influencer + YouTuber.
He parlayed his hyper engaged audience into building what is know a $40M+ supplement company, Bare Performance Nutrition.
His personal audience still serves as a huge source of top of funnel traffic for BPN.
Your next steps:
Pick 1-2 platforms:
- B2B → Twitter + LinkedIn
- DTC → TikTok + YouTube (maybe IG)
Then, start creating.
If you’re a founder or CMO — you can either start posting on your own or work with a ghostwriter if you don’t have the bandwidth too (hit me up if you need help with that).
If you’re a social media manager — start pitching the idea to your leadership team for them to be more active from their personal accounts.
I’d even recommend ghostwriting for your founder or CMO if they don’t have the bandwidth to create on their own (if Twitter + LinkedIn are your platforms of choice).
If you’re going to be more video-dominant, start with simple concepts so the friction to create isn’t high.
Just make simple talking head videos for these short-form platforms so you get the hang of being on camera. Then, level up as you go.
Again, if time is a limiting factor and you have the revenue to do so, I’d recommend working with an editor to increase output and quality of this video content.
And before we go, I’ll leave you with this:
The best decision you’ll make going into 2023 is investing into your personal social presence.
It makes everything easier for your company. Building a brand. Finding investors. Making sales.
Just do it.
That’s all I’ve got for you today.