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If you want to impress 500 million young Chinese, learn about the Douyin video app

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Although we are still a couple of months away before 2018 comes to an end, it’s pretty safe to award Douyin the “App of the Year” in China. In less than a year, Douyin has comfortably overtaken its biggest rival Kuaishou to become the most popular short video platform in China.

As of now, Douyin has an impressive 500 million users worldwide, and the number is still growing. The Chinese marketing industry even coined a term, “2W1D”, meaning WeChat and Weibo, plus Douyin, are the must-haves of any brands.

The sudden rise of an app is inevitable in the age of social media. But for brands, it’s crucial to understand the app and how people use it in order to reach targeted audience with accuracy and efficiency.

Douyin changed its tagline from a declarative “Interesting people use Douyin” to a more evocative “Everyone’s story deserves to be documented”, which motivates not only a truthful representation of their daily lives, but more interesting, fun and creative content is produced.

After analysing hundreds of Douyin videos, we found that these six types of content are most welcome by the users. Brands with ambition to build presence on Douyin could use this as a guideline when coming up with platform-specific creative propositions for the 15-second

Music and dance

The word Douyin is consisted of two characters, 抖 dou meaning “shake” and 音 meaning “music”. So music and dance are the cornerstones of the app.

Similar to the once predominant music-video making app, users of Douyin create lip-syncing and dancing along to popular music and share it to their friends for a “challenge”.

Against the backdrop of a fast proliferating music show business, Douyin has become the perfect place for ordinary people to create their own music shows.


Pranks are liked by white-collar city residents who have stressful jobs and are constantly seeking release of their pressure through lighthearted content on internet. Consumption of such content will happen most likely late at night. To some extent, it has the same social function as American late night comedy.

This category also include films of mischievous children and animal.

Skill share

From magic show tricks to yoga, from how to draw you own cartoon profile picture to cooking know-how, these short-form skill share videos are liked by many Douyin users because the content are highly relatable to everyone’s life. It’s an ideal type of content for lifestyle brands.


Though China is known for its low-profile culture, the impulse to show off what others don’t have is an instinct deeply rooted in humanity. While outright showoff of wealth is a major generator of conversation, many other things can also attract attention - exotic tourism destinations for example.

Story-driven videos

Also called “micro TV show”, such videos are edited, sometimes by professionals but can also be made by amateurs, to tell a simply plotted story in 15 seconds. Many luxurious brands will resort to such format to convey a more thorough and firm brand message. More online video platforms are also using this format to release teasers of their productions.

Product review

Directly linked to boost sales, product reviews are preferred by both brands and KoLs. With two-thirds of all users being female, cosmetic brands have made a huge success by inviting KoL’s to review their products in 15 seconds.

Arnold Ma is chief executive at Qumin