Sarah Cooper’s Rise to Fame | A Guide to TikTok Marketing

Rising to fame in April 2020, Sarah Cooper’s success came from her TikTok popularity. Earlier this year, Cooper posted videos of herself lipsyncing to Trump’s interviews, and they went viral. One of her videos based on an audio recording of Trump discussing disinfectants to treat the coronavirus has been viewed more than 20 million times. 

So who is Sarah Cooper?

She’s a bit older than other new faces, but when it comes to entertainment, age is not a factor. In her early 40s, Cooper is an American author and comedian. She formerly worked as a UX designer at Google for many years before quitting in 2014 to focus full time on writing and comedy. 

During the lockdown this year, Cooper was at home playing around with TikTok. She continued posting videos of Trump impersonations, and after raking in millions of views, she signed with WME, appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, and hosted an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! 

Her recent accomplishments don’t stop here. Netflix has also given her her very own comedy special due to air this month. CBS is currently developing a TV series featuring her as well.

TikTok has been the perfect platform for her, having opened many doors for her comedy career. The widely popular video-sharing social networking service has close to a billion users and has surpassed Instagram, WhatsApp, and Youtube in monthly downloads. But why is it so popular? Take a look at this brand expert’s take on the trending app:

TikTok’s success can simply be attributed to how it flips what we think of as social media on its head, while at the same time returning us all to roots of the original appeal–the ability to go viral. We’ve all gotten so caught up in maximizing reach by growing a massive fan base through subscribers or followers, so it’s refreshing to have a platform with an algorithm that rewards content above all else. – John Holdridge, the GM of Fullscreen

If you’re looking to market your brand or yourself, TikTok is definitely a platform worth trying. In a matter of months, Cooper has found tremendous success. Let’s take a look at how she did it and how your brand could learn a few things from her. 

6 Effective TikTok Marketing Tips

1. Experiment, experiment experiment

Don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to marketing. You never really know what the market likes. Since TikTok is a video-sharing service, an excellent strategy would be to test the waters with three different videos. Also, check out what’s trending at the moment, with each video following a different trend.

Trends matter and they quickly come and go. According to influencers, TikTok usually has eight popular trends per month, and all you have to do is choose three for your experiment. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do anything that is oversaturated. As with Cooper, when she first started using TikTok, she tried to follow what others were doing – dancing.

There was and still is this whole dance craze going on. However, after trying it, she found that it wasn’t for her and moved on to try another activity – lipsyncing. At the time, Trump was also trending heavily with his daily press briefings. And it all started when Cooper found herself frustrated by the president and the words that came out of his mouth.

“He reminds me of these guys in meetings that I would see who would come in and just kind of bullshit their way through the meeting, but somehow make people think that they were paying attention and knew what they were talking about.”

And so she began her journey lipsyncing on TikTok, combining two trends. 

2. Use analytics to measure success

As you continue to experiment, you’ll finally figure out what works for you. Based on certain metrics, you’ll be able to measure how successful your marketing campaign is. Track the right metrics, and you’ll be able to tell a lot about your campaign. If you’re new to TikTok, analytics will help you to stop guessing and strengthen your content strategy.

Here are the key metrics you should be measuring: 

  • Video views
  • Profile views
  • Likes, comments, shares
  • Followers activity
  • Videos your followers watched
  • Sounds your followers listened to

Numbers won’t lie to you. Knowing your statistics will help improve your campaign’s performance. After multiple experiments, you’ll get to narrow down and focus on the things that work for you. In the comedian’s case, she began impersonating Trump just for the fun of it. Little did she know that her impersonation of Trump suggesting absurd treatment methods for Covid-19 would skyrocket her to fame.

It was her husband that urged her to do a video on this ridiculous Trump statement. In the clip, she’s dressed in a suit at home using props such as her living room lamp and household cleaner. Although it wasn’t a fancy production, people loved her for teasing the president, and the clip went viral. It now has more than 750,000 views on TikTok and more than 21 million on Twitter! Check it out here:

3. Post content that reflects your beliefs and values

A brand’s values could be anything that positively pushes the company into taking morally correct actions. It could cover feminism, sustainability, accessibility, equity, and so much more. There is no limit to brand values. Integrating these values into your marketing campaign will add creativity and personality to your brand.  

Consumer behavior is more complex these days, and so should our marketing be. Consumers are becoming more and more aware of a company’s social impact, citing it as one of the reasons they would buy from you. This is very obvious in the millennial demographic. According to a 2017 Cone study, 87% of people preferred to buy products based on a brand’s values.  

What we can learn from Sarah Cooper is how she channeled her frustration with Trump into her clips. She got so sick of people like Trump who talk their way through things and how everyone around them seems to accept the situation.  

“I’m not trying to do an impression of Trump,” she says. “When I do these videos, I’m trying to say, like, what if Sarah Cooper was this person who could get away with talking like this?”

As a woman, she believed that she wouldn’t be able to get away saying the same things as Trump, which led her to impersonate him. She had to play this character to prove her point and draw attention to the amount of negligence out there in the world. 

4. Keep posting and sharing

No one ever said success was going to be easy. You’ve got to be consistent in creating content and posting regularly. It’s another strategy that will aid you in your TikTok presence and growth. Regular posts will translate into higher engagement and giving your followers something to look forward to.

Besides regular posts, you should also be sharing them on any platform you can find. You might not think that going cross-platform will be very effective. Why share your TikTok videos on Facebook or Instagram? Well, every platform has its own audiences, and posting on as many as possible will maximize your visibility. Some audiences prefer to use a certain platform, and they may use others as well, but less often. This helps you to reach a wider audience.

In Cooper’s case, she continued posting and regularly sharing until she made it. Although Cooper films and edits her videos on TikTok, she shares them across different platforms and has the largest following on Twitter.  

5. Be quick with trends

Trends move fast on TikTok, and they’re the heart and soul of the platform. Not only for individual content creators, but brands may also leverage trends to reach their audience. If you want your brand to be successful on TikTok, you’ll need to be quick to follow trends, interpret them, and create your own content.

Sarah Cooper has been latching onto the lipsyncing trend and benefitting from Trump’s spotlight. She is also quick to release fresh clips on the same day the words are uttered from the president’s mouth.

On 1 August 2020, Trump announced that the US government might be banning TikTok. Within a few hours, Cooper aired her new clips mocking Trump with her impersonation. 

 “We may be banning TikTok, we may be doing some other things or a couple of options, but a lot of things are happening so we’ll see what happens. We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok,” Trump’s voice can be heard saying.

6. Plan your content

As TikTok’s popularity continues to grow, more and more businesses are making the shift. It may not be for everyone, as the platform’s audience is young.

Creating creative content is essential to a successful TikTok campaign as well as understand what works on the video-sharing platform. Your planning efforts will guide you through creating a campaign that catches on with the users.  

Before planning a TikTok Campaign, first, let’s understand the platform from a marketing perspective. Observe what is has to offer to see if your brand must have a presence on the platform. Here’s what TikTok has to offer in terms of marketing:   

• Reaches a relatively young crowd: teens, tweens, millennials
• Niche audience
• Combines entertainment with information
• Organic growth
• Lowest saturation in the advertising industry

Here are some steps to planning your TikTok Marketing Campaign: 

  1. Create a Competitor’s Analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strenght, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis on your competitors. Observe what has worked for them and what has not. This will help take the guesswork out of your campaign.
  2. Create Content with High Engagement: Since TikTok combines entertainment with information, you’ve always got to think about entertaining ideas. Plan content that will entertain the audience and engage with them. At the end of the day, you also want to see their participation. For example, Clean & Clear’s #UnbottleApnaSwag and Flipkart’s #BigBillionStar are some of the most engaging campaigns run on TikTok which were able to attract 15.6 billion and over 8 billion views respectively. 
  3. Boost Visibility with Advertising: There are three types of ads that you can run on TikTok
    • In-feed Native Ads: Brands have to bid for a spot on the TikTok app for their ad to run
    • Brand Takeover Ads: Brand’s ad will play as soon as a targeted TikTok user opens their app
    • Hashtag Challenges: Official hashtag challenges that are paid for by brands
  4. Partner with an Influencer:
    In addition to paid advertisements, you may also choose to partner with TikTok influencers that have high organic reach and engagement. Here are some things you should be on the lookout for:  
    • What is your influencer’s audience like? How do they behave?
    • What kind of content does your influencer create (influencer’s niche)?
  5. Provide a Clear Call-to-action:
    Through an Ad or even an Influencer marketing campaign, every brand has an objective. It may be that you want the audience to visit your website or to generate leads, which is why a clear CTA is critical.   

The Jamaican-American comedian carefully planned her content on TikTok to market herself as an entertainer. Focusing on her expertise, which is to make people laugh, she scoured through Twitter to find clips of Trump. She then listened to them, imagined the setting and props, and brainstormed ways she could bring Trump’s words to life.

When she was on Jimmy Fallon’s show, she explained her process of shooting clips. She would shoot them in small segments so that she could retake them over and over again until she got it right. All her clips were compiled and edited on TikTok. Nothing fancy was used to do her clips as her main focus was on making impressions of Trump.

Bonus Tips:

Tip #1: Use relevant hashtags (catchy and easy to say)
Tip #2: Post content at peak hours and when users are available
Tip #3: Relevance is key!
Tip #4: Speak the way your audience speaks
Tip #5: Acknowledge your users when they participate
Tip #6: Make emotional and personal connections



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