How to go viral on TikTok

Going viral on social media is not just about pleasing the crowd, but playing the game. It is possible to plot a path to success, you’ve got to do what the algorithm wants.

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 some simple but clever tricks, the company managed to create four separate viral posts with millions of views each, with zero budget and 100% organic storytelling.

Klaus Vemmer, CMO at SproutWorld and explains how they followed a scheme that the algorithm favours.

Keep it (very) short and sweet

It’s possible to create videos lasting up to 10 minutes long, but don’t. Most people barely make it past the first three seconds. 15 seconds is a nice sweet spot but challenge yourself to tell your brand or product story in half that time. We stuck to 8-second videos and only posted organically i.e. no paid spend. TikTok prioritises organic discovery, so tell a good story, and they’ll do the work!

Be hands-on when the numbers start to take off to amplify reach and engagement

When it takes off, you have a very limited timeframe (just a matter of days if you’re lucky) to capitalise on your viral success, so you need to have your marketing funnel and resources prepared. 

Ensure your website can handle a traffic surge – a crash at the very moment you’re having the most impact is the last thing you want. Create email sign-ups, dedicated landing pages, an email for incoming enquiries if necessary and ensure you have no broken links. 

Simplify the buying journey and see if you can create upsell features on your website. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll be asked via comments where you can buy the product, even with a link in bio, so have your links ready. Also be prepared for interest in countries outside of your usual territory in case you need to ship internationally.

Respond to all comments – but don’t robotically copy and paste

TikTok users are very engaged and enthusiastic, and comments often come in quickly when a video starts to take off. It’s important that you as a company monitor comments continuously and respond to all, or as many of them as possible. This is because TikTok actually prioritises the comments that you as a 'creator' answer, and these comments will rank at the top of your video.  

If there are comments that you want others to see (positive statements, questions etc), you should answer these as soon as they are posted. It helps to connect with users. Also, interacting with your audience will reinforce the brand's identity and create a greater connection with your audience.

Create content based on comments

It can be advantageous to create content that’s based on a comment from another video. For example, if a question was raised in a video, use this comment as inspiration in your next video. It has the benefit of being a standalone piece of content but it also has the advantage of being shown as a video response under the comments section on the old video. This will generate more views for both videos – it’s a win-win. This was the case for our most successful post.

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

Turn your cliff-hanger into a hook

Even if you do end up creating 8-second videos, it’s really only the first 3 seconds that are make or break for whether people see the whole video through! So, focus on creating a snappy and catchy intro – turn your cliff-hanger into a hook.  

Tips: create curiosity at the start by posing a question or statement: "You're never going to believe what happens next", or summarise the video in the first couple of seconds: “This is how you…”. Audio, music or text captions are the best way to achieve this.

@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

You must create specific content for TikTok

Don’t take shortcuts – they won’t pay off as TikTok works differently to other social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. The same content just won’t work across platforms, we’ve seen it for ourselves.  

As mentioned, try to keep videos under 10 seconds (8 seconds works really well for us) and always try to incorporate an audio element like music, as well as text captions for times when audio is muted.

The audience on TikTok skews younger, so we specifically asked our 26-year-old marketing assistant to lead since she was more likely to have her finger on the pulse. She took the reins in our experiment and it has been her playground ever since – it has been a lot of fun for the whole team.

Choose the home-made approach over glossy productions

The great thing about TikTok is that you don’t need a professional production team to achieve success, leaving you to spend that budget elsewhere! Content that is authentic and has a ‘home-made’ quality resonates more on the platform, so be creative and experiment. Don’t create glossy, high-production brand videos or sales pitches as they are a real turn-off – TikTok is entertainment, so focus on creating entertainment value.

Bring out your personality

This isn’t the best platform for a corporate tone of voice, but if that’s your niche, then sure, stick with it. But either way, it’s a platform that works best for content that is inspirational, encouraging, positive, helpful and amusing.

Consistency – don’t give up

Content and trends are something that changes daily on TikTok. Therefore, it is important to share a lot of content regularly to stay as relevant as possible. To create the greatest organic growth, share videos 2-3 times a day, about 5-6 times a week. Don’t give up on your TikTok video if they don’t take off at first. 

Stay consistent with posting and eventually TikTok will recognise you as a regular. You only need 1 semi-viral video to grow your following base relatively quickly, so it’s worth the effort.

Klaus Vemmer

Chief Marketing Officer


Read the case study on how a pencil from SproutWorld went viral in 8 seconds.