Douyin and its rising power

The short-video content app TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is growing at a phenomenal speed.

The application allows users to create short music videos of 3-15 seconds and short looping videos of 3-60 seconds. What is behind this model’s success?


The owner of TikTok is the Bejiing-based Chinese tech company ByteDance, also known as Headlines Today or Toutiao, which is a news reading app that utilizes unique data mining and recommendation technologies in order to analyzes data from users’ social networking accounts and individual reading habits to offer customized, relevant information and suggestions that meet specific needs and preferences. It is nowadays the most valuable unicorn start-up in the digital media/ AI industries and also worldwide. A unicorn startup or a unicorn company is a private company with a valuation over $1 billion. ByteDance is ranking 1st in the list surpassing respectively UBER and Didi Chuxing (both are transportation services) with an estimated valuation of $75 Billion.


ByteDance acquired in 2017, the former Shanghainese short-video content mobile application along with other similar apps, and rolled out TikTok as the final product of the acquisition process. It is now the leading short-video platform in Asia, United States and other parts of the world in terms of downloads and monthly active users. As of 2018, it was available in over 150 markets in 75 different languages and the app had more than 500 million users globally, including 150 million users in China alone.


While keeping the app title as Douyin in China, Douyin was branded as TikTok for the international market when it started to expand into other countries in 2017. TikTok employs artificial intelligence to analyse user’s interests and preferences through their interactions with the content, and display a personalized content feed to each user.


Its rapidly growing popularity is due to its significant marketing campaigns and also to its partnership with local KOLs and brands to engage their fans’ interest. For example, its marketing campaign in 2018 Spring Festival Gala alone brought an increase of 70 million daily active users. The app also used numerous viral trends, social challenges and internet celebrities around the world in order to attract users in a directed way. Celebrities were encouraged by TikTok to post their content on other social platforms and therefore redirect followers to their own one. It is an efficient social influence tool and the integration of monetization systems within the app such as sponsored ads and banners will likely contribute to the revenue of the company starting from 2019.

TikTok “Dare To Be” Super Bowl Campaign in the US and Douyin Marketing Campaigns in China



Tik Tok announced its first fashion branded content partnership with GUESS in 2018 as a strategic move aiming to bring fashion content to the main users of the short-video platform: Millennials and Gen Z generations. This campaign was officially launched in the US on September 1, 2018 along with the hashtag challenge #InMyDenim in order to promote the brand by inspiring millions of users to participate organically in a call-to-actions goal.


TikTok partnered with KOLs to promote GUESS




In China, Douyin also launched several brand collaboration campaigns such as the Haidilao Douyin Recipe challenge. In partnership with Haidilao Hot Pot restaurants across China, users were allowed to create their own recipe with their own “style” in order to show-off their individual dining shows to their followers and therefore gain traction for the app.

A famous Haidilao recipe on Douyin


Douyin also launched its own mini-program feature at the end of 2018 (similar to the ones of WeChat), therefore attracting more luxury and other brands to its e-commerce advantages. Louis Vuitton created its own mini-program for its Christmas campaign, allowing customers to click on direct links to their online shop.

Louis Vuitton Christmas Campaign on Douyin

With innovative and trending practices, Douyin has successfully gained the interest of the youth population thus placing itself in the center of the social media world and its direction towards a more visual aspect of “social” is determining for the way companies will do business in the future. 

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