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How to Use Douyin for China Online Marketing

Maria Krisette Capati, Author

16 August 2019

WeChat remains indispensable in the lives of Chinese consumers. But there’s an app that’s reinventing how brands engage with followers.

Say hello to Douyin. WeChat will always be an unbeatable mobile app as you can almost do anything and everything with it. But the popularity of short video apps also pushes brands to explore the key features.

In this blog post, you’ll learn more about Douyin and how you can use it in your China online marketing efforts. These insights will also help you gauge if Douyin is for you or relevant to your marketing strategies.

READ MORE >> Should Global Brands Invest Efforts in Chinese Short Video Apps?

What is Douyin and How Does it Work?

how to use douyin for china online marketing

Douyin is more than just a social app. It’s a short video app with a ton of features, including e-commerce suitable for brands. With this app, they can explore other creative ways of engaging with followers.

Douyin is the Chinese version of TikTok or that allows users to share 15-sec of videos. It’s a short video app that’s popular among the young people in China.

Douyin’s localized features are only available for Mainland Chinese users. ByteDance, the Beijing-based company launched Douyin in September 2016. Tiktok, the English version, and Douyin are the same. But each platform uses different servers to follow the government censorship restrictions.

Tiktok uses servers outside of China or where the app is available. It means that TikTok features are only available overseas. And Douyin’s features are available to Chinese users.

douyin features in china

The emphasis on the differentiating these two is significant. Because if you want to engage with Chinese users, Douyin app is your best bet. It would be a waste of time to use Tiktok, although both have the same features because it’s not accessible in China.

As of this writing, Douyin has 500 million monthly active users. Most of them are ages 18-30 years old and living in top tier cities in the Mainland.

What makes it addictive is the infinite scroll and auto-play of videos while the user binge-watch them. (I tried it myself, and indeed, there are a ton of videos to watch and to laugh at).

How Do Brands Use Douyin?

Most brands feel the pressure to stay active on social media. Others use all the available and accessible accounts to get started. But being active doesn’t mean that it can generate sales instantly. So, you really need to choose which one is relevant and is helpful for your industry.

For example, industries like fashion, beauty, and cosmetics, fitness and health, food, education, lifestyle are some of the industries that can benefit from Douyin’s features.

What makes Douyin unique is that it’s AI and algorithm-driven. Users see a bunch of endless videos, which are based on Douyin’s algorithms. Unlike other social apps, your browsing feed is based on your network or whom you follow or your friends. So, on the user’s perspective, it’s zero effort for them to build a list to follow.

what brands are using douyin

Douyin’s algorithm can help brands tap specific users. But there are also challenges as a publisher of videos on your part. For example, on how you can grab the attention of these millennials and Z generation in less than 15 seconds.

The videos are in vertical format, occupying the entire screen. That’s why the transition into the next video is crucial. The user can swipe and skip your video if it’s annoying. But as a brand, you must also have an identity and what you would like to project to your audience.

Douyin’s features and tools such as background music, GIFs, filters, and many more. The app will push you to be creative on your content.

But let’s see how these brands are leveraging the features.

#1 “The Challenge” Theme Content

Michael Kors started a challenge, #城市T台,不服来抖# to encourage followers to post similar or imitating videos to get a UGC. The campaign collected 30,000 short videos from users in just one week, and the total views exceeded 200 million.

Another one is MaiDong, a sports drink company that launched a contest. The company encouraged its followers to create videos using the BGM provided by the brand and publish them with the hashtag #StartYourSpectacle.

The winner of the challenge, the one with the highest number of likes, got an iPad Air. Meanwhile, the top 30 challengers received a box of MaiDong’s new drink. More than 74,000 users joined the challenge. Plus, MaiDong gained more exposure through them.

#2 Creativity and Innovative Content

Publishing content on Douyin is emotionally liberating for users because they can express themselves using the app. It’s the same thing with brands, you can be as creative as you can but making sure it’s still relevant with your brand identity and values.

Airbnb, for example, encouraged users to post the “Expectations vs Reality” videos. What a great way to connect its services to that theme while at the same time, the results of the campaign boosted its brand visibility.

Pizza Hut, on the other hand, has sponsored animated stickers to engage with Douyin users. The iconic red hat can be embedded in the post or video and other accessories like sunglasses, too. Michael Kors is also using stickers as a way to engage with users and publishers.

#3 Collaboration with Key Opinion Leaders

Brands can work with KOLs who have a huge following and of course, related to their industry. This strategy works with fashion, beauty, and cosmetics. The influencers review or feature the items via videos or live stream and vlog about it.

But keep in mind that working with KOLs isn’t free. Depending on the number of followers or fans, the rates could be around 6,000 RMB up to 100,000 RMB or more.

One of the key advantages of working with KOLs is that you have a secured group of followers. When your influencer launched a campaign or a challenge, just imagine the exposure the brand will get from the 1 million fans of that high-profile influencer.

If you want to work with KOLs, you can use contests and challenges to engage with your audience. For retailers in beauty and cosmetics, this usually works well.

Keep in mind that you need to be picky with the KOLs. Be alert with overnight success stories. Douyin is also making sure the popular KOLs have control over what they post or promote via signing up contracts with them.

#4 E-commerce Integration

In-app links in the caption are rare in social apps like on WeChat. When you post a link on Moments, it’s not “clickable.” Meanwhile, Douyin knows the importance of e-commerce.

To connect the loop, it now supports e-commerce links of Taobao, or Tmall where a shopping cart icon is visible to the user’s interface.

Luxury retailers can take advantage of this feature, where they can showcase their new products to followers. Beauty influencers can review products and then add links that direct the followers to the shopping page.

Paid Marketing on Douyin

If you want to elevate your digital marketing efforts, you can move on with paid marketing on Douyin. Paid ads are available if you’re going to maximize its features and pursue the youngsters.

There are three ways on paid ads

#1 Open-Up Display Ads

Users will see open-up ads whenever they open the app. It has two types, one the static form (photo or graphics) and the dynamic form (video). The dynamic type supports full-screen. So, it feels as if the user is only watching a video, not knowing it’s actually an ad.

Meanwhile, the static image shows up to 3 seconds (which is obvious it’s an ad), and the video form of about 4-5 seconds. These ads run via CPT or CPM. Usually, if you’re new in business and you want to build traffic, this can be your option.

#2 Sticker Ads

As mentioned earlier, some companies sponsor stickers. Users can embed or add into video clips. Global brands like Pizza Hut, Michael Kors, and others have beautiful stickers for users to add on videos.

Stickers are also used to make a campaign viral, such as launching a challenge or a topic. Users will come up with fancy, creative ways to create videos and win prizes.

#3 Feed Ads

There are two things to consider with feed ads. You can do a soft sell and hard sell. These are the ads that you see when you browse on Facebook. Usually, they are visible on Recommend Page.

The ad (video) plays once per day with about 5-30 seconds and can only be played and seen with the same user. If you want to do the soft sell, you can use ad videos to blend well into the user’s feed as if they’re just watching an entertaining video.

What is the Cost of a Douyin Ad?

Keep in mind that Douyin app is only available at Apple App store and Chinese Android app store. ByteDance is also catering to the needs of brands via business accounts.

how much does douyin paid ads cost

For paid ads, you can browse

Yes, if you’re a brand owner or a business, you can sign up or register a business account. It has more comprehensive features than the personal account. But you need to verify your account.

For Douyin ads, you can get started for 500 RMB, which is the basic package. According to ByteDance, you can gain a +117% click rate, 68% conversion rate, -21% conversion cost. The second package costs 1,500 RMB, which offers 146% click rate, +54% conversion rate, and -47% conversion cost.

The third package cost 2,500 RMB. If you want to maximize your ads on Douyin (provided that you already understand how the features work) you get +212% click rate, +97% conversion rate, and -35% conversion cost.

How Can We Help?

Now you’ve learned so much about Douyin, it’s still your call if you want to go the extra mile with this app.

If you’re in the following industries, you may want to think about it before you take a big step. Most of the popular and viral videos on Douyin are:

  • Beauty & Cosmetics
  • Fashion & Lifestyle
  • Food & Beverage
  • Education
  • Health & Fitness
  • And other creative, funny videos from all walks of life

At AZ-Loc, we can help you build a social media strategy and also work on the translation and localization of your marketing materials. If Douyin is something you’d instead set aside, you can always explore other social media apps like WeChat, QQ, and Weibo.

Aside from social media, we can also work on the translation of your website and copywriting of your pages in Chinese if you wish to elevate your online efforts.

Short video apps are becoming popular these days and are bound to shape the e-commerce industry. The host of features that Douyin offers can’t be overlooked.

But of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s working for some, it’ll work for you and deliver success instantly.

So, make sure you work with local talent and Chinese marketing specialists who can assist and advise the best practices fit for your needs and industry.

Fill in the form below and we will get back to you with a quote on your project.

As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who are already decided which projects to prioritize and understand the importance of translation and localization efforts.

china market writer

Maria Krisette Capati

Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad. 

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