What is Douyin?

July 11, 2023
By Jesse Beard

If you’re thinking of doing business in China, you may have come across Douyin. Douyin is the Chinese version of popular, worldwide, social media app TikTok.

Douyin, founded in September 2016 originally under the name A.me, is an app in which the user is a fed a never-ending stream of short videos in a scrolling format. The user is able to like, share and comment on this content. They are also able to follow creators to see more of their videos. Once a video ends, it loops back to the beginning and the user can either scroll to move on or rewatch it. The algorithm decides which videos will show up on your “for you” page by analysing the videos you have interacted with or watched to the end and choosing to show you similar types of videos. There are two main pages of Douyin: “Following” and “For you”. The “Following” page only shows you videos from accounts that you follow whereas the “For you” page shows you any content that is deemed suitable for you.

Why is Douyin popular?

Since Douyin was founded, its rise in popularity has been exceptional. Douyin now has 750 million daily active users and last year, over 30 billion items were sold on the platform. With TikTok, Douyin is one of the most used apps worldwide. As of January 2023, they are in the top 6 social media apps ranked by monthly users. But why are they so popular?

Both platforms are designed for entertainment. They allow users to create, share and watch videos and these can be focused on almost any subject; there are endless possibilities. Therefore, there are no boundaries and users can involve themselves with content relevant to themselves. Furthermore, the videos on these platforms are very short and thus can hold the attention of anyone; even those with a short attention span. As a result, users are unlikely to get bored, and the constant feed keeps them hooked. This gives TikTok and Douyin a USP which platforms such as Youtube and Instagram have since tried to emulate with “Shorts” and “Reels” respectively.

The differences between Douyin and TikTok

For the most part, Douyin is very similar to TikTok. But what exactly sets it apart from its Western counterpart?

Firstly, videos which are popular on the two platforms are different. According to AdChina.io, Douyin users favour “pan knowledge” content – anything that improves personal skills and contributes to overall growth in everyone’s life – such as education, humanities and arts, popular science and sports. TikTok users prefer art based content such as musical content and dancing. In addition, videos on Douyin are mostly narrated by an automated voice however TikToks are usually voiced by the creator. Remember as well that Douyin is only available in China and TikTok is only available outside China. They are two entirely separate entities so videos from one will not appear on the other.

The power of livestreaming

We’ve all heard of video but what is a livestream? Quite simply, a livestream is a video which is recorded live. So no edits. You can capture them through a screen record, but you can’t record a livestream then repost it on Douyin or TikTok. It is a very interactive medium; the creator can talk directly to the viewers and the viewers can respond with live messages. Good live streamers are very skilled at filming, whilst talking live, and simultaneously responding live to their audience.

How can companies use Douyin to market tourism?

Many tourism companies use livestreams and videos on Douyin to market their destinations and attractions to Chinese tourists. Short form video is extremely popular in China and a great way to inspire viewers and encourage them to get on the next plane out. The Tourism Administration of Dubai found success with Douyin as their videos (100+) accumulated over 3 million likes. They also rose to a whopping 130,000 followers as a result. In livestreaming, viewers can ask questions to the livestreamer and they can promptly respond. Live-streaming is an economical way to promote a destination. It doesn’t require the big cost of editing, so you don’t need the biggest budget. All you need is one phone and one person. With just that, you can achieve greatness.

If ever you see an attraction that catches your eye, whip out your phone. It’s Douyin time.

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