Douyin vs TikTok – The Differences You Never Knew (Updated 2022)

Highlights
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    Both Douyin and TikTok are social media apps that allow users to create, edit and share short videos and livestreams with the special effects, audio and music. The main difference between them lies in the functions, features and availability across the different regions in the world. 

    For instance, the Douyin app is only accessible to those who are physically based in Mainland China and it can only be downloaded from the Chinese App Stores. Similarly, Chinese users can not access TikTok, the international version of Douyin. Tiktok can be downloaded from Google Play Store or overseas Apple Store.

    Did you know that over 670 million individual users log onto Douyin each month? Even with its geographical accessibility limited to China, Douyin app’s user base in China is still about a fifth of TikTok’s global monthly active users. 

    Let’s have a quick look at some of the key differences between the two apps. 

    Are Douyin Vs TikTok The Same App?

    Even though both the platforms are owned by the same Chinese tech company Bytedance, Douyin and Tiktok are two completely separate entities. Users on these two short video apps cannot interact with each other. The Chinese and international version of the app also have very different registration processes, policies, and content. In fact, the same search words result in completely different content and profiles on both apps.

    User Content – Douyin vs Tiktok

    Both Douyin and TikTok have the same signature straight-to-video opening screen format. If you compare their homepage, TikTok’s homepage appears to be much more basic than Douyin’s. 

    Both short video media app homepages include trending hashtags, banner ads, and links directly to short videos. However, Douyin also features rankings of top accounts in a range of categories including celebrities and brands including luxury, beauty, electronics, and the like. 

    When you start looking at the content on the two platforms, more differences start to emerge. 

    Popular Content Types on Douyin

    1. Any content that improves personal skills and contributes to overall growth in everyone’s life can be regarded as ‘pan knowledge’ content. With over 1 million pan-knowledge content videos, it accounts for 20% of the total broadcast volume on Douyin.

      Current categories include : life skills, popular science, humanities and arts, education, sports and workplace.
    1. Most videos on Douyin have a computerized voice that narrates and this automated voice offers no personal touch. 
    1. Douyin’s keyword search algorithm ranks accounts with a larger number of followers and likes higher. The content from verified enterprise accounts ranks higher than content from basic accounts.

    Popular Content Types on TikTok

    1. TikTok videos mostly have the poster narrating their own video. Due to this, TikTok has led to the popularity of many amateur singers, rappers, dancers, and artists in the international market.
    1. TikTok’s top posts are arts-based, featuring lip-syncs and trending dances.
    2. TikTok’s content ranking algorithm is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the number of likes, comments, reposts and engagement rates on a global scale.
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    User Demographics and Interests – Douyin vs Tiktok

    Douyin has a unique user demographic as compared with many other Chinese platforms. During the early days, the majority of its users were female with ages between 18-24. They were mostly from first-tier Chinese cities. Since the explosive growth of the platform, the demographics have also changed drastically.

    Likewise, international version TikTok became a popular Gen Z social media platform for dance challenges in its early days. But today, it has grown to encompass every kind of content and community. Now, brands are looking to leverage both Douyin as well as TikTok to connect directly with customers.

    Douyin 

    1. Chinese young people between 19 and 40 years olds account for about 80% of Douyin users.
    2. 35% of Douyin users are located in China’s richest cities, also known as ‘super-cities’ and ‘first-tier cities’ (i.e Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen).
    3. Douyin is also experiencing an upcoming growth of third-tier city users (like Zhongshan, Zhanjiang, Shaoxing and Huizhou).
    4. People in first-and second-tier cities prefer finance and economics related content, people in third-and fourth-tier cities prefer educational content, while people in lower tier cities are more keen on arts.

    Source – Statistica

    TikTok

    1. TikTok has now surpassed Instagram in terms of popularity among Gen Z users (born between 1997 and 2012) in the United States, with 37.3 million users as compared to Instagram’s 33.3 million.
    2. However, TikTok is quickly growing its popularity in other age demographics. For instance, in the first quarter of 2021, 36% of TikTok users were between 35 and 54 years old, as compared to 26% in 2020.
    3. Tiktok is more popular among females, especially in the US. Worldwide, TikTok’s user base is 57% female. However, that figure rises further to 61% for TikTok users in the US.
    4. As per a 2022 GlobalWebIndex survey, the majority of TikTok users use the platform “to find funny/entertaining content.”

    E-Commerce Features – Douyin Vs TikTok

    The Chinese version of Tiktok, Douyin has much more advanced e-commerce features. Users are able to directly link to products on Taobao, JingDong and the like when publishing videos or hosting a livestream. With just three clicks, users can buy a product featured in a video.

    Douyin is also a much more powerful marketing platform for brands and advertisers. Brands are able to partner with KOLs not only to build awareness and consideration for their brand, but also to get direct sales for their products. 

    Moreover, Douyin has now launched mini programs which allow brands to create their Douyin stores. This will allow users to complete their purchases within the Douyin app, thereby improving conversion rates. Douyin recognises the power of video sales, and doesn’t want customers to leave the app to complete their purchase with a third-party provider.

    However, on TikTok, the feature to link to Amazon and Shopify is only restricted to certain areas and users, which limits its use for e-commerce. 

    Douyin’s users also have stronger purchasing intent than TikTok users. Douyin consumers are well-educated, come from metropolitan areas in China, have a high purchasing power and are well-exposed to foreign consumer brands. This makes the app successful for brand marketing. 

    In January 2021, Douyin also introduced Douyin Pay even though it banned links from livestreams to third-party e-commerce sites (unless pre-approved and run through Douyin’s KOL-run service). Douyin Pay would compete with other Chinese giants like Alipay and WeChat Pay that enable E-commerce sales.

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    Brand Marketing – Douyin Vs TikTok

    The two platforms have different features, interests and demographics. Therefore, brands need to craft their marketing strategy in a way that caters to the unique needs of the users on these apps.

    To appeal to the Chinese audience on Douyin, brands must curate and localize their content specifically for the Chinese market. While promoting on TikTok, brands need to focus on encouraging users to create fun, engaging and spontaneous content. 

    On Douyin as well as TikTok, the hashtag challenges by brands are popular. However, on Douyin, the brand hashtags also appear on the brand’s profile. When you click on the hashtag, it takes you to the hashtag challenge page. While on TikTok, the hashtags don’t appear on the brand’s official account. 

    On both the platforms, brands can use paid advertising options to reach their target audience. They can also collaborate with bigger, popular accounts in their niche (‘influencers’ on TikTok and ‘KOLs’ on Douyin) to promote their brand.

    Here are some ways to market your brand on Douyin –

    1. Custom Stickers

    Douyin users are known to engage well with brand-sponsored animated stickers. For instance, Pizza Hut’s campaign featured their iconic red hat, sunglasses and shopfront stickers that users could add to their own videos. They partnered with two Douyin KOLs to promote the campaign which resulted in the stickers streaming over 1 million times. 

    2. Hashtag Challenges

    Hashtag challenges inspire mass participation and content creation that ends up creating a social buzz around the brand. For instance, one of China’s leading travel agency created a hashtag challenge around National Day holidays which is a peak travel season. The challenge encouraged the users to share videos of their travel experience with Ctrip’s stickers and tagged cities. This campaign resulted in over 4 billion views within a week. 

    3. Paid Ads

    There are several different types of paid advertisements that can be used to target users on Douyin. 

    Splash Ads – These are full screen ads that pop up each time the app is opened. These video or still pictures content ads can last three to five seconds. However, no external links can be added to these apps. There is no limit to the number of times the ad can be presented to a user. These ads are billed per thousand impressions (CPT).

    Feed Ads – Feed ads are video auto-plays or images that appear when users are scrolling their feed. The video ads can be upto 60 seconds long. These ads can include messages and external links to stores or products. 

    Brands can create upto 60 ads to be displayed on feeds. If users link the ad, they can also share it to other Douyin users or even across different social media platforms such as WeChat, 

    4. KOL Advertising

    Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) can help you promote your brand further with Douyin advertisement. KOLs are Chinese influencers across different domains. They can be popular actors, singers, bloggers or media personalities who can exert a strong influence on the consumers.

    For instance, German automobile company BMW carried out a number of successful ad campaigns on Douyin. In its ad campaign for the BMW 1 Series launched on Valentine’s Day, it  partnered with Chinese singer and dancer Jackson Wong. The ad campaign received over 100 million viewership and thousands of comments.

    Here are a few successful brand marketing examples to take inspiration from –

    Top 10 Successful Douyin Brand Marketing Campaigns 

    “We have a brand account TikTok, so we know how to use Douyin.” Not true!

    One of the biggest mistakes that any brand can do while marketing on Douyin is to repost the same content as their TikTok account. Once you create your brand’s official Douyin account, you need to devise the right content strategy to grow your reach.

    1. Starbucks

    Starbucks has a different content strategy for Douyin and TikTok. For instance, it doesn’t post any original videos on TikTok. It only reposts the customers’ videos talking about their favourite coffee or experience with the brand.

    However, on Douyin, it posts a lot of original content like educational videos about coffee and new product releases. 

    Starbucks also takes note of important dates and events in China for their marketing campaigns. For instance, their ‘#Bring your own cup’ (#自带杯#), that encouraged users to bring their own cups to Starbucks was very successful and hit 196.5 million views on Douyin. Starbucks was one of the few brands that received a very high engagement for its Earth Day campaign in China.

    2. Gree

    Another inspiring example of a brand marketing strategy on Douyin is of Gree, a large home electronic brand in China. The brand took a unique approach by hosting a livestream with the company’s chairwoman, Dong Mingzhu, who is one of the most famous Chinese entrepreneurs.

    Even though the reach and sales conversions numbers were small compared to livestream campaigns with popular KOLs on Douyin, it was still a successful campaign. Gree was able to sell 232k RMB of products. The average basket amount was 900 RMB, including the sale of 3 air filters worth 12,000 RMB.

    3. Colourkey

    Colourkey’s success with their KOL campaign with popular actress Li Xiaolu shows that lower priced products perform better during livestream product sales. Moreover, offering heavy limited period discounts helps get more sales. 

    For Colourkey, the livestream sale with Li Xiaolu resulted in over 309% ROI. She was able to sell a total 86.4k Colorkey lip glosses, each lip gloss was sold for 49 RMB (discounted from 69 RMB).​New brands must take discounts into consideration when pricing for the Chinese market.

    4. Michael Kors

    Brand Micael Kors was able to get over 5 million views and 30,000 user-generated videos from its challenge on Douyin that asked the followers to show off their street style. The brand collaborated with Douyin KOLs to promote a “city catwalk” hashtag challenge on the platform. This campaign promoted the brand’s ‘The Walk’ Shanghai event by targeting over nine million followers. Yang Mi and Mark Chao were among the many influencers involved in the campaign.

    5. Haidilao Hot Pot Douyin Recipe

    A popular hot pot chain Haidilao created a buzz in Douyin by asking customers to create their own DIY dishes and posting them on the platform. The chain was popular for its user-oriented, customized services and was able to provide the best culinary tools for the campaign. Within a year, this campaign generated 1.8 billion views without any advertising budget. Some of the DIY dishes became so popular on Douyin that they were added to the menu. 

    6. Lancome

    On its official Douyin account, the French brand Lancôme not only has video content, but also has direct product links and the origin of the products presented. Due to this, the account catches attention of the public eye which leads to an increase in the purchase volume.

    7. Adidas Neo

    Adidas Neo is Adidas’s brand for the younger generation and its Douyin account reflects the same. The brand teamed up with Gudetama, the popular Sanrio character to launch a summer dance challenge on Douyin. The challenge encouraged share their own interpretation of a lazy laid back summer dance video and adding the hashtag #goodday大妈舞.”

    8. Peacebird x Susan Fang

    One uncommon strategy to market your brand on Douyin is to create a collection in collaboration with another brand. This strategy was adopted by Fashion company Peacebird, well-known for its shirts and suits, by partnering with a local designer label Susan Fang that is famous for its aesthetics.

    The latest collection of seven items combined the styles of both the brands. The collaboration news quickly picked up on social media and the hashtag #The cool collaboration of Peacebird(#太平鸟神仙联名) generated 22.87 million views on Douyin.

    The pricing point also played a huge role in the success of the campaign. Users were able to buy clothing with the Susan Fang logo for $125 (RMB 799) from Peacebird — a fraction of the price.

    Source – JingDaily

    9. Dior

    Launching fashion shows on Douyin is another way to reach a wider audience. Dior’s broadcast of the release show of the Autumn/Winter 2022 womenswear series on Douyin attracted nearly 40,000 viewers. Luxury brands are now opening up to experimenting with short-form video content type in China through Douyin to build an engaged audience.

    10. Prada

    Prada’s fashion spring 2022 campaign on Douyin featured four acclaimed Olympics athletes to represent a wide range of beauty standards. 

    The campaign was well-timed to tap into the growing pride of Chinese consumers for sports with the Winter Olympics just around the corner. The athletes are now referred to as nation’s heroes and more brands are seeking to partner with them. The campaign also gained popularity for being inclusive, brave and empowering. Consumers were able to connect to the brand as it broke fashion stereotypes by not limiting itself to celebrities and models. 

    Source – WWD

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