This pencil went viral on TikTok in 8 seconds, how?

From zero followers two months ago to now being used by Richard Branson and Michelle Obama. How did this pencil rise to fame, and at a skyrocketing pace?

An experiment on TikTok for plantable pencil company SproutWorld, resulted in more than 100,000 followers and tens of millions of views in just four weeks, with website visitors up by 1,400% in four days alone.

“We decided to give TikTok a try and experiment – simply play with it based on what we liked and seemed to work on the platform,” said Klaus Vemmer, CMO at SproutWorld.

“It has worked surprisingly well, it's been pretty crazy! The sales figures were 10 times as high as in the same period the year before.”

SproutWorld, the eco-friendly brand behind the world’s first plantable pencils and makeup liners, went from zero to TikTok hero by completely changing their strategy.

Challenge: breaking into TikTok

With over 1 billion users, TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. It is a powerful marketing tool for creating genuine engagement, brand awareness and sales and has become an important channel for many brands, including SproutWorld, that debuted on the platform in August 2022.

However, social media managers cringe when they are given the seemingly impossible task to ‘go viral’. But in this case, it seems there is a formula for success.

@sproutworldofficial Besvarer @cheese 1. Use 2. Plant 3. Grow ♻️�� (the green tip should be covered in soil. This is just to show how it works) ���� #Plantablepencil #secondlife #SproutWorld #basil ♬ sos - evie

Understanding why content goes viral on the platform and what the algorithm likes is the first step, and then you capitalise on it. SproutWorld recognised that for TikTok success you must keep the videos short, engage with the community through comments, streamline your site so the path to purchase from social engagement is easy, create a hook and don’t go big budget.

Most people barely make it past the first three seconds of a TikTok video. SproutWorld stuck to 8-second videos and only posted organically as TikTok prioritises organic discovery. Using trends like using popular songs and audio on TikTok make videos instantly recognisable to a large audience.

“As an old marketer, I wanted to have 'a concept', but I could see that things were happening in a different way on TikTok – sounds, quotes, music, trends you have to catch. It is demanding,” said Vemmer.

The algorithm also prioritised replies to comments as it demonstrates engagement. The brand’s most viewed video created a 10 second video response to a comment capitalising on a catchy TikTok song, ticking three boxes for TikTok’s algorithm and giving them 11.9m views in one video.

@sproutworldofficial Reply to ♬ sweetest pie by doja and dua - ash !!

Results: a business that grows

The brand’s most viral post (above) generated the most impact in the first four days. Website traffic rose 1,400% and sales by 10-fold.

After 7 days, SproutWorld had amassed more than 30,000 new followers. By comparison. It took the brand four years to achieve 15,000 followers on Instagram.

SproutWorld has now reached more than 100,000 followers and tens of millions of views in less than four weeks. In addition, it kicked off a stampede of B2B inquiries, despite the social media platform being a platform for consumers mostly.

“We have hit on something without really knowing anything about it,” continued Vemmer. “So, we’ve now changed our strategy. We’re changing focus so that in future, we will put 80% of resources on TikTok, and less on Instagram and Facebook.

“Where previously we ran marketing plans with so and so many posts and reels on Instagram and Facebook per month, in the future we will run something that looks like two or three TikToks a day.

@sproutworldofficial Did you already know about our plantable ✏️ with cherry tomatoes? Start growing your own - They are seriously delicious ���� #Plantablepencil #secondlife #SproutWorld #plantsoftiktok #tomatoes #growyourownfood ♬ original sound - Max and Cali

“We’re aware that TikTok can produce strong results in the short term, and this is something we will cultivate much more. But we can also see that the platform's premises and the users' approach are very different. On Instagram, the numbers may not be as wild, but we do experience greater loyalty from the users there.”

@sproutworldofficial What’s not to like? �� #Plantablepencil #secondlife #SproutWorld #fyp #plantsoftiktok ♬ It's Corn - Tariq & The Gregory Brothers & Recess Therapy