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Douyin – THE Chinese social media to reach a young, and wealthy audience

Douyin – THE Chinese social media to reach a young, and wealthy audience

Before getting started, let’s see what Douyin is about

Douyin is a short video platform belonging to Bytedance, just like Toutiao and Watermelon. The app was established in September 2016 and currently attracts 140 million monthly active users. Douyin is also famous in the U.S., where it is named “TikTok”. This rapid development took place in less than two years, leaving us with the question why it is so successful.

Douyin is considered as a copy of its Western counterpart musical.ly because it works the same way. Users choose a background sound, record a 15-second video, edit it with filters, stickers and other effects to then share it on the app or other platforms like WeChat. When watching videos, users can switch to the next clip via swipe function. However, unlike musical.ly, Douyin is not only focusing on singing but on general entertainment covering more diverse topics such as cooking, fashion, and traveling.

The parent company of Douyin, Bytedance, is known for its effective implementation of AI  and thus users receive highly relevant recommendations about what to watch. Nevertheless, there are also some restrictions like the inability to search videos filtered by topic. Instead, users only see currently hot topics. Plus, there are strict content rules that can lead to an immediate erasure of videos.

Here are some examples of short videos on Douyin:

China’s short video market: rapid growth and high competition

China’s short video market enjoyed a strong growth during the last years. As indicated by iiMediaResearch, currently 240 million users watch short videos and the number is assumed to surpass 350 million in 2018. This development leads to high competition that constantly sharpens by the arising of new entrants. For example, the major players Baidu and Tencent want to introduce their own short video platforms. The trend of short videos is supported by the high amount of mobile users and the wish of consumers to enjoy their limited free-time and to try out new apps. The currently most popular video platforms are Douyin, Meipai, Miaopai, which is belonging to Weibo, and Kuiashou, also known as Kwai.

Who uses short video platforms?

Short video platforms usually comprise a younger audience. This is particularly true for Douyin since 70% of its users are aged 18-35. Its users are mostly women living in first or second-tier areas and thus have a higher income and education. These demographics are linked to a more highbrow content. Kwai, for example, is rather popular among males living in rural areas.

How does Douyin work for brands?

So we already figured out that Douyin represents a great chance to reach a young audience. But now how to make the most of it?

  • Own engaging content
  • Challenges / Video competition
  • In-stream ads
  • KOLs

Of course, to gain and maintain followers, own engaging content is essential. Next, to the condition that it needs to fit a brand’s products, companies can analyze current hot trends to adapt their content strategy.

Besides, Douyin enables brands to initiate “Challenges” which are basically themed hashtags that are used to engage users to create own content and share it. To increase participation brands usually, offer a prize to the provider of the most liked video. For example, the fashion brand/designer Michael Kors launched a challenge for which users were meant to record their own catwalk in a Michael Kors outfit in order to win a prize.

As for advertising, brands can place in-stream ads within the recommended videos section. Video ads are restricted to 30 seconds and in order to receive more information users simply swipe right.

As on all social media platforms, working with KOLs is a profitable way to attract new customers and strengthen brand image and loyalty. On Douyin KOLs with more than 50.000 followers can access the live-stream function as well as live Q&A. Unlike on Western media, users have to pay on Chinese platforms to receive an answer. However, on Douyin it is cheaper than on other platforms.

Furthermore, since March 2018, products promoted on Douyin can be added to the user’s shopping cart, facilitating a smooth purchasing process. Users simply have to click on the shopping button indicated on a video to get instantly directed to the detailed product information page on Taobao.


Tips for Western social media brands for using Douyin to reach and engage its audience:

  • Collaborate with KOLs that appeal to your desired target audience
  • Create engaging challenges/competitions to boost user-generated-content and exposure
  • Connect with users by providing own useful, funny, or emotional content
  • Discover customer insights by monitoring what your target audience likes to watch
  • Place advertisements based on videos your audience is likely to enjoy











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