What is Douyin? (China’s Sister App of TikTok)

This article is part of a series from our latest whitepaper, the China Social Media Platforms Guide. You can download the guide here: https://www.umssocial.com/china-social-media-platform-report/2023?s=blog


Douyin is a shortform video platform that was launched by ByteDance in China in 2016. It has grown to become one of the most popular social media platforms in China. It is the Chinese version of TikTok and has similar features, such as trending challenges and direct messaging along with an extensive music library and special effects for videos. The short videos match the attention span of young audiences, but as they grow into consumers, it is a vital platform to engage them on.

TikTok is the Western, separate version of Douyin. It was launched internationally in 2017 after a merger with the platform Musical.ly. Both Douyin and TikTok started as a space for music, dancing and singing videos but have now diversified into every kind of topic online. Professional influencers gather huge followings on the platforms.



  • For You Page: The main page when opening the app is a constant stream of different videos. The platform algorithm learns which videos (and ads) to show users.
  • Profile Page: Users are prompted to record and share their own videos. The videos on a profile are often more informal than on WeChat or RED and is a space where experimentation and play are encouraged.
  • Video Editor: Powerful built-in editing tools allow for a range of professional effects, including greenscreen, adding text, subtitles, graphics and animations.
  • Filters: These use advanced facial tracking to enhance beauty or produce wild and humorous effects. Users will rush to ‘play’ with new filter and join the trend.
  • Music Library: Trending sounds and music become popular very quickly, with influencers and brands catching on and helping to create viral momentum.
  • Douyin Store: Verified users can open online stores to sell products, via video posts and live-streaming.


The majority of Douyin users are young people, particularly those aged between 18 and 24, who are drawn to the platform’s fast-paced and visually appealing content. The platform has also become popular with brands and influencers looking to connect with their audience in a more authentic and engaging way. Douyin users tend to spend a significant amount of time on the platform, with the average user spending almost an hour per day on the app.



Douyin is home to a diverse range of content, from lipsyncing and dance videos to comedy sketches and product reviews. Popular content on the platform includes viral challenges, makeup tutorials, and food videos. Douyin’s algorithm prioritises content that is relevant to the user’s interests. Users are then more likely to see content that they will enjoy and engage with, leading them to spend even time on the platform. Although users generally open the app for entertainment reasons, the platform is becoming more ecommerce focused over time, which will help it to generate revenue from its massive audience.


The two main account types on Douyin are Personal and Business Accounts. Personal Accounts are for individual users who want to create and share videos with followers, while business accounts are for brands and organisations looking to promote their products or services on the platform. Business Accounts offer features such as ecommerce integration, advanced analytics, and paid advertising campaigns. Brands can also leverage the Livestream, VIP Room, and Flagship Store functions to promote products.


Douyin offers a range of advertising options for businesses looking to reach their audience. These include in-feed ads, brand takeover ads, and hashtag challenges. In-feed ads are short video ads that appear in the main feed, while brand takeover ads take over the user’s screen for a few seconds when they first open the app. Hashtag challenges can be organic or sponsored challenges that encourage users to create and share videos related to a specific topic or theme.


The platform offers a range of ecommerce features, such as the ability to link to external ecommerce sites, in-app purchases, and social commerce tools that allow users to buy inside the app. Many brands and influencers use the platform to sell directly to their followers and run regular promotions and sale events using live-streaming. The Douyin Global Choice function allows cross-border ecommerce for brands that do not have a business registered in China.


Direct messaging allows brands to communicate with customers in real time, providing quick and efficient responses before and after purchase. Chatbots can respond to queries and answer FAQs. Responding to comments and replies on posts helps show a brand’s commitment to customer service and building trust. Hashtag challenges can offer an interactive way to engage with customers post-purchase. Regular posts to a brand account can help to keep followers informed and engaged and enhance brand reputation on Douyin.


On Douyin, brands must focus on creating engaging and authentic content that resonates with

the platform’s young and visually oriented audience. This means developing a solid brand voice specifically for the platform – not just copying and pasting content posts on social platforms. Leveraging popular trends and challenges is essential, along with investing time to produce creative and visually appealing content that stands out in the competitive environment.

TIKTOK OR DOUYIN? While they have the same parent company, both apps’ content libraries and trending pages are separate, and the data is stored in different places. Therefore, brands may need to adjust their marketing strategy based on their target platform. When posting content in China, there are more guidelines and cultural cues to follow than on Western social media. It is important to be aware of updates, and the types of content that are supported and encouraged.


With its powerful algorithm, engaging content, and ecommerce options, Douyin has become an essential platform for brands looking to express their brand values and ambitions in more creative ways than their other social media channels. Striking a balance between promotion and entertainment is key to building brand loyalty and trust. As the core under 35 demographic ages, they will become the next generation of consumers and have a significant impact on the market. By building a relationship with them now, brands can establish a long-term edge in the China market.

This article is part of a series from the latest whitepaper, our China Social Media Platforms Guide. You can download the guide here: https://www.umssocial.com/china-social-media-platform-report/2023?s=blog


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What is Douyin? (China’s Sister App of TikTok)

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For more Insights information contact guy.thompson@umssocial.com, or sales@umssocial.com