If you’re wondering what douyin actually is, then don’t worry. China marketing experts from tenba group have experience with this tiktok brother in the middle kingdom.
We reveal the differences and similarities between the two platforms and delve into features like payment and how to create douyin ads to reach your target audience.
what is doujin?
with more than 550 million monthly active users (mau), douyin (抖音, “shaky sound”) leads by far the universe of short video applications in china. its main competitors are kuaishou, xigua, weesee (weishi) and huoshan. At 600 million, douyin’s number of daily active users (dau) is even more impressive.
douyin is very popular among young women (25-30 years old) from third and fourth tier cities (55%), a trend that is increasing. by comparison, users from first- and second-tier cities account for only around 45%.
a brief history of doujin
Launched in September 2016, douyin reached a 100 million user base in its first year of existence. Chinese users’ favorite features are short video creation (lip sync, comedy, viral challenges) and live streaming.
To date, the app has been downloaded over a billion times. By comparison, TikTok launched internationally in 2017 and has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times to date.
Owned by Chinese tech giant Bytedance, Douyin is often billed as the Chinese version and TikTok as the international version of the same short video app. but in reality, they are actually two separate entities. depending on the app store you use (in china or outside), you will be able to download douyin or tiktok. Please note that in some areas like Hong Kong or Taiwan, no app is available.
to give you an example
Among the most popular douyin accounts is Chen He (陈赫), a Chinese actor. On douyin, he has more than 50 million fans, while on tiktok only a few unverified accounts appear when searching for his name.
why does bytedance separate these platforms so strictly? The main reason is to adhere to China’s strictly controlled online environment. By having two separate platforms, bytedance can allow more user generated content on tiktok and follow the required restrictions on douyin.
why is doujin so popular in china?
As you know, most western social media platforms like facebook or youtube are not available in china. surely this is one of the reasons why Chinese social networking applications like wechat and douyin have sprung up and won the hearts of Chinese users.
The second reason is that these super-popular Chinese media apps tend to offer much more than just social interaction, from research, shopping, and ticketing to payment services and transportation. there’s almost nothing that’s technically possible that china’s super apps don’t offer (yet).
Finally, the popularity of douyin, in particular, can be traced back to many Chinese celebrities who enthusiastically use this platform, either for fun or as influencers.
- 搜索: search bar
- 开放平台: open platform
- 抖币充值: douyin coin → payment wallet
- 创作者服务: creator service
- 发布视频: publish video
- 登录: login
- 首页: home
- 直播: live streaming
- 娱乐: entertainment
- 知识: knowledge
- 二次元: second element
- 游戏: gaming
- 美食: food
- 体育: sports
- 时尚: fashion
- 音乐: music
- payment: launched in January 2021, similar to alipay or wechat pay. users can buy products in native or live stores.
- shop: douyin was the first platform to offer a direct purchase option on taobao/tmall in its videos or natively. e-commerce promotion is becoming more and more popular.
- entries & Booking: You can book hotel stays or take restaurant tours.
- long videos: Although it is a video platform for 15-second clips, douyin also offers full-length movies.
- Official Account: Brands may list their previously sponsored hashtag challenges and their ranking on the douyin top account list, as well as a link to the brand’s official site.
For the application, we have chosen the popular luxury company, prada, to show you the design.
At the top, there is the follow button (关注) and the private messaging function (私信). Below the company name, the blue check mark indicates that it is a verified account.
After a brief description of the brand (bio), there is a link to the official website (官方网站).
Below this, 665.3w 获赞 refers to 6.5 million likes. the 0 关注 next to this indicates the number of accounts prada follows (zero/none). next to this, the 48.9w 粉丝 refers to almost half a million fans/followers.
next, the three current trending hashtags related to prada are listed. at present, these are #prada2022春夏男装时装秀 (spring and summer men’s fashion show) and #p家音乐情书.
finally, at the bottom of this screen, “作品 372” refers to the number of posts prada has created since you started your douyin account.
at the top, there is the search bar which includes the last searches of the respective user.
In the middle are the douyin (猜你想搜) search suggestions, based on the user’s interest and previous searches. or click 换一换 (change) at the top to see new suggestions.
At the bottom is the ranking of the currently most popular search topics (抖音热榜). currently, these focus on the henan/zhengzhou floods in july 2021.
at the top is 同城 (the same city), referring to what other nearby users have posted. next to this is 关注 (following), the posts of the people you follow. and next to that is 推荐 (recommendation), the feed where douyin provides content suggestions based on what users might like.
Below this is the current video/post.
At the bottom, there is 首页 (home) on the left and 朋友 (friends) next to it. in the middle, you can create a new video with the + symbol. On the right, you will find 消息 (messages) and 我 (me), the individual profile information.
Next, let’s take a look at the history of douyin, the popular video platform that allows users to create and share short video content.
douyin against tiktok
Although the applications have many similarities, there are many more differences. Let’s look at these aspects in more detail.
Both platforms are owned by bytedance and are focused on communities that create and share short videos or broadcast live. the interface in both apps is pretty much the same: on the home screen, you’ll usually find brand recommendations/advertisements.
In addition, both platforms have recently added a video search feature. users can search someone’s face to find more videos and products and buy them directly.
douyin’s user base is a bit older, though still young, compared to tiktok. therefore, douyin also offers micro-vlogs, lifestyle content, business tips, and videos from local authorities.
while douyin is only available in mainland china and respective app stores, tiktok is only available internationally, e.g. in the google and apple app stores. this means that even with a vpn you cannot download and install tiktok in mainland china and vice versa, because a chinese phone number is required for this.
While both platforms focus on the use of hashtags and trends, their actual hashtags and trends differ due to location and culture. each video becomes a story, and users (individuals and brands) try to emulate popular videos to gain visibility, reach, and engagement.
Common trends on douyin include language learning videos (English), food, pets, and funny/entertaining videos, as well as business-oriented videos. by comparison, common trends on tiktok focus on dance and music, possibly due to the slightly younger audience on tiktok.
It may surprise you, but the douyin video app actually has much more features besides uploading, liking, commenting, sharing short videos and live streaming.
Now that you know the main differences and similarities between Doujin and TikTok, let’s look at running ads in a little more detail.
how to run douyin ads
first, you will need an official douyin account. While it is technically possible to download the app and register an official account from outside China (details below), it is difficult. an easier way is to contact a china marketing expert like tenba group and let them take this worry off your shoulders.
after registration, you can choose between different promotion options
- welcome ads: full screen ads that are displayed before opening the application and last 3-5 seconds. These ads can be photos or videos, but embedded external links are not allowed.
- newsfeed ads: videos autoplay when users scroll past them (15-60 second image or videos), which can include external links, e.g. product purchase options.
- targeted ads in posts
- artificial intelligence-based distribution of your ad. pros: most affordable option, wide range. Cons: Less control over the distribution of your ad.
- distribution based on criteria such as age, gender, location or interests. pro: specifically target your ad. cons: more expensive, and you need to know your target audience very well.
- Blog Follower-Based Distribution: Pro: Specifically target your ad. cons: more expensive, and you need to know your target audience very well.
- advertising through bytedance: advantages: they appear in all your applications. cons: expensive
- collaboration with influencers: kols, kocs and wanghong promote their products in everyday situations. Pros: Authentic and “organic” promotion of your brand. Cons: Not the least expensive option, finding the right influencer for your brand can be a challenge.
- create trendy stickers and challenges with hashtags: advantages: profitable. cons: reception is difficult to predict.
and this is what the douyin ad account looks like, similar to other ad accounts, where you can configure the ad group, campaigns, keywords and creative content.
advertising advantages compared to other platforms
douyin ads are more profitable compared to ppc search ads on baidu. Furthermore, these ads are beneficial for Chinese lead generation as well as e-commerce conversion.
Finally, douyin is kol’s premier platform for engaging with a young, ready-to-buy audience. In our own experience, a combination of douyin and baidu ppc ads works best.
download douyin & register an official account outside china
In the past, it was possible to download an .apk file for douyin to use on android phones. the updated Chinese privacy law no longer allows this option. Although some sites still provide .apk files, the mandatory use of a Chinese mobile phone number makes this option obsolete.
so, to download the app, it is now mandatory to have a Chinese phone number and access to a Chinese app store.
Once you have the app on your phone, creating a regular account is easy, just like with any social media platform.
However, to register a douyin official account, you need to go to https://renzheng.douyin.com/ and click the 立即认证 (authenticate now) button to start the verification process. scan the qr code to complete authentication.
trading account requirements
- a mainland china business license
- an icp license, if you want to link to your website
- letter of request
- annual fee of 600 rmb (~90 usd)
- Please note that Chinese censorship is quite strict. for example, no health benefits can be mentioned or that a product has a certain effect after a single application. Also, you can’t use words like “best” or mention celebrities unless it’s in a paid collaboration. Also, ads may not mention ghosts or spirituality.
- douyin not ideal for luxury and high-end products, because younger, lower-end consumers have less money available to spend
- instead, douyin is attractive for affordable and trendy items in the cosmetics, fashion and accessories niche (sneakers, bags, etc.).
- Similarly, fast/trendy food and western food/drinks like pizza hut and starbucks are well received by douyin’s gen z audience.
- Lastly, keep up to date with the app and its user base as the app develops rapidly. As soon as features and apps come out, be sure to check if they’re relevant to your brand.
After you have submitted all required information, verification must be completed within five business days.
This brings us to the end of this introduction.
Now that we have answered what is douyin in detail, you are ready to use this platform for your brand and business.
So, here are the main differences between tiktok and douyin, how to download the app, register and verify an official account, and how to post ads that include popular products and genres.
Are you ready to boost your brand in the middle realm? Get started with your free consultation from Tenba Group, your trusted marketing advisor in China.