From Job Loss to a Multimillion-Dollar Business
In 2008, Melissa Ben-Ishay faced the daunting prospect of unemployment, yet her ensuing journey led to a remarkable transformation. From joblessness to the helm of Baked by Melissa, a flourishing enterprise celebrated for its delectable bite-sized cupcakes, Melissa’s path was characterized by unwavering self-assurance and relentless dedication. Devoting up to 13 hours a day to perfecting recipes in a commercial kitchen basement, Melissa’s narrative stands as a testament to her steadfast resolve.
A TikTok Triumph: 2.4 Million Followers and Counting
Now, jumping ahead to 2021, Melissa, who is now steering her dessert empire, accomplished an unforeseen triumph—going viral on TikTok. Remarkably, it wasn’t her cupcakes but a salad that garnered the attention. Baked by Melissa’s TikTok account now boasts an impressive 2.4 million followers. It features Melissa herself, who is now 39 years old, as she creates a diverse array of recipes, spanning from delectable sweets to savory burgers, including the famous green goddess salad that captured the hearts of countless viewers. By January 2022, the salad video that went viral had accumulated over 22 million views, a clear testament to the widespread popularity of her content.
Authenticity Overrides Corporate Social Media Strategies
In a conversation at the Atlantic Festival, Melissa confronted a prevailing misapprehension in the sphere of social media marketing. She fearlessly asserted, “If you possess a social media strategy, you’re facing difficulties.” Her unorthodox viewpoint contradicts the conventional corporate strategy in the domain of social media. She stressed that larger companies, in particular, find themselves restricted by inflexible strategies, while she advocates for authenticity and community-oriented content as the guiding principles.
Baked by Melissa’s TikTok Journey
Melissa faced challenges during her TikTok journey. Initially, TikTok wasn’t a top priority for Baked by Melissa due to limited resources. Melissa recognized the strong customer engagement on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and aimed to be among the first to adopt the next social media sensation.
However, her team didn’t initially align with her vision for TikTok and resisted. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Melissa found the time to dive into TikTok. She began experimenting, sharing her love for desserts and food through videos, initially on her personal account.
Authenticity as the Cornerstone of Success
Melissa’s journey underwent a significant transformation as her TikTok content began to gain traction. She transitioned to posting on the official Baked by Melissa account, breaking free from the limitations of cupcake-centric content. Her choice to showcase aspects of her life beyond baking, including the crafting of salads, was fueled by her genuine passion and a desire to create a virtual scrapbook.
At the core of Melissa’s TikTok success lay authenticity. People resonated with her sincere love and passion for her craft. She refrained from emulating other accounts or blindly following trends, believing that authenticity is the true driving force in social media resonance.
Customer Feedback Reinforces Authenticity
Interestingly, customer feedback strongly supports Melissa’s strategy. Researchers employed by the company found that customers highly valued Melissa’s authenticity. The idea that “Melissa is genuine” became one of the brand’s most beloved aspects.
Balancing Tradition with Innovation
Melissa’s unwavering belief in her genuine approach empowered her to remain resolute when her team raised concerns about sharing content such as salad videos. Her primary goal was evident: establishing a community and providing reliable content that entices followers to return for more.