TikTok (Douyin抖音): How to use it for Marketing and Branding in China

Recently some of our customers called us and asked us why platforms like WeChat and Weibo do not guarantee satisfactory marketing results as before. The answer we always deliver is: in China, things change quickly and we cannot rely on a single platform. Today we need to concentrate on Douyin and Zhihu and here I will explain why Tik-Tok (Douyin) is the best choice to reach new Chinese online communities.

What is it?

Tik Tok or 抖音 (Douyin) is a far-famed and fast-growing Chinese platform for short videos mostly 15 seconds long, but with the possibility to make up to 60 seconds long clips. While using this platform, you are supplied with a number of songs and many filter options to customize the videos.

It burst out in 2018 and became the most downloaded iPhone app, getting the nickname of “China’s Snapchat”. Chinese adore it and they use it to show their life, passion, and talents.

Its audience is extremely young and active. According to a survey by research (, nearly 67% of Tik Tok’s users are under 30 and 56% of them are students. At the same time, Jiguang data shows that 43% of Douyin users live in first- and second-tier cities, the developed metropolitan areas.

There are so many users and they are so different, different ages, have different revenues, different interests, that almost any brand could find here its target and any creator — his audience.

As far as it’s a short-video app, it is often compared with Vine, a US-based short-form video app that was actually acquired by Twitter in October 2012 prior to its official launch. In 2016, however, thanks in part to growing competition from other apps including Instagram and Snapchat, it was shut down.

Vine became popular with content creators who used it to create comedy and music shorts, and it eventually grew to 200m active users. Not surprisingly, brands were eager to get in on the act as well.

Will TikTok repeat Vine’s depressingly short story?

We think – no.

Despite the quick sketches, DIY-aesthetic, and Vine-like dry humor, the app itself is way more complex than Vine ever was. TikTok’s timing also appears to be good. Videos are well-established and booming, and younger generations appear especially entranced by the kind of short-form video content that TikTok is focused on.

Moreover, thanks to its popularity in China, TikTok already has some 500m active users – more than double that of Vine at its peak. So while the app is only now making headlines in the West, its spectacular growth is coming on top of what looks like a pretty solid foundation.

Finally, TikTok is owned by ByteDance. That’s the privately held company, which was founded in 2006, is,according to reports, now the most highly-valued tech startup in the world, having just raised a $3bn round of funding that valued it at $75bn. So TikTok has a lot of capital behind it, which could make it more difficult for incumbents to quash it.

Why should I use it?

The main reason? People love videos and videos make us extremely relaxed. the Chinese company is hectic and Douyin seems to be a platform able to offer entertainment without unnecessary complications. But that’s far from the only matter.

Here you can learn about China's daily and culture.

After downloading the TikTok app, you will find yourself in the brand new world of Chinese lifestyle and culture. Actually, it’s a good way to understand Chinese, what do they want, what are they looking for, what they get used to. Just spend some time scrolling down videos and quite soon you will get the way your potential audience thinks.

TikTok can give you a fast way to share your story for branding and personal branding.

15 seconds videos are an extremely easy way to promote your ideas, make people laugh and wake up their interest. People adore such videos because they are easy to understand and can help them to relax.

By recording one’s day-to-day life and sharing unique points of view, insights, and stories via vlogs, business leaders and entrepreneurs can boost their personal brands and fill an unsatisfied educational, motivational or entertainment niche in their industry.

You can just use simple in-app tools of TikTok and create original and authentic content which immediately will be delivered to a huge number of users and your customers.

Are you looking for a fresh and young audience? They are looking for your brand here.

With the average age of a TikTok user being 13- to 24-years-old, mostly girls, TikTok is a gold mine when it comes to getting your brand in front of Gen Zers.

Very creative and active, they will promote you to their friends and families, if they like you. They are curving for new things, so you can find here absolutely new customers.

Fast and up-to-date feedback can help your marketing strategy.

Ok, you’ve started and got your first audience. And what’s next? Enjoy easy intercourse with them! This audience is so affable that you can receive feedback as soon as you post things.

The fastest and easiest way to engage them is by using daily challenges and a wide network of hashtags. Some of the big western brands already have created their own highly welcomed challenges.

Not so long ago, fashion brand Guess launched its #InMyDenim hashtag challenge, the first-ever branded partnership with TikTok. Guess posted several “Official” videos accompanied by Bebe Rexha’s “I’m a Mess,” and then let the content creators do their work. NBC Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon lauded the app and created the #Tumbleweed Challenge. Users posted more than 8,000 videos using this hashtag.

If you want to be involved with something buzzy, something shining brand new, operate in a different way and on a platform that has the potential for visibility in a less-crowded space, TikTok was definitely created for you.

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So how could I use TikTok (Douyin抖音)?

Here we come out with some easy ideas for your personal or corporate brand. Start from these and you will see results soon.

1) Show your brand.

Are you creating a personal brand? Are you an artist? Musician, dancer, artist? Do you have some other talents? Simply show it.

Are you living in a beautiful and interesting place? Show your daily life, what is going around you.

Do you have your own business or work for a corporate brand? Show how it works, just some parts of the internal working process. Show co-workers, working space, daily routine, and small achievements.

Film a few short videos about yourself, your life, your work. Make people know you, so they can trust you. Churning useful videos definitely can add value to the viewers. Tell the story others want to hear.

2) Crowdsource Feedback

One of the key points of any marketing strategy is to understand your customer. Via TikTok you can be in constant contact with your fans, and it’s absolutely easy to crowdsource some useful feedback here.

You can pose a question video or ask fans to make a choice, so they will feel engaged and loved. They will soon be faithfully following your videos and that is the marketing you need. One rule is to ask them open-ended questions regularly.

Asking people where exactly you should improve in your next contest, they would be quick to point out, and that is where exactly you had failed on. That is what you should do here for you to get honest feedback that you need to keep moving-framing your question.

3) Work with others

Collaborations with some other brands will bring you, new viewers. Actually, a successful brand collaboration can be shockingly powerful–as powerful as influencer marketing.

Nowadays, customers are presented with a lot of options and alternatives of the similar line of products and hence, the brands have been opting for the Brand Collaboration to present the new and innovative products to the customer.

So collaboration marketing is on the rise. If you get someone in the same industry as you, you can share ideas with them. This also can be someone who shares the common goals, values, target market, and business objectives with you. They could reveal the one thing you have never done which could transform your traffic altogether. They will also learn something from you which might be of help to them. Overall, you both will win here.


At the moment, TikTok is new and unfamiliar territory for marketers. Many companies are still afraid to step on such unstable soil. But for brands who are targeting Chinese users, especially young, the return on investment might be high for the months to come.

TikTok has the potential of being a major platform like Instagram and Snapchat and shouldn’t be easily dismissed. The app is still in its infancy, but the number of users joining is impressive. It’s still too early to tell the future of the app, as it may continue to rise in popularity or it could plummet.

If you are looking for your way to reach the Chinese market, that could be the easiest way to understand it and gain some interest from it.