Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, stands out as one of China's most active social media platforms. As of 2023, it boasts an impressive 746.5 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) and has generated a staggering $274 billion in e-commerce sales within the first ten months of the same year. This immense user base positions Douyin as an ideal space for brand expansion in China.
What sets Douyin apart from other social media platforms is its unique algorithm-driven content distribution system. This system is designed to assist users in exploring more content aligned with their interests. Leveraging this distinctive feature, we have compiled the following methods for users to discover brands or retailers on Douyin.
1. Discovered by Users' Interest: If a user is interested in a particular topic, there is a greater likelihood of seeing related products. Douyin would analyze user behaviour, interaction and browsing history to build up a personal interest model including content categories, topics, music etc. To illustrate, suppose a user is particularly interested in skincare ingredients. In such a case, Douyin ensures that the user receives skincare product recommendations that highlight specific ingredients. Similarly, for enthusiasts of skiing, Douyin tailors the homepage experience by featuring relevant content, including skiing equipment and apparel.
2. Discovered by Trending Topics: Sharing videos with trending hashtags significantly broadens the content's exposure on Douyin. As the popularity of content rises rapidly, it garners recognition from the platform's algorithm, leading to increased visibility. Collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to create content centred around trending topics proves advantageous, serving as a means to attract new customers and boost brand awareness. In addition to leveraging KOL partnerships, actively participating in platform campaigns and sharing creative content related to events contributes to receiving rewarded traffic.
3. Discovered by the KOLs: Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) have a fan base with loyalty and trust. Leveraging the influence of KOLs makes product "seeding" or recommendations more effective, increasing the conversion rate. However, it would cost an extra marketing fee to collaborate with KOLS. To maximize the impact, brands could adopt a data-driven and experienced approach when selecting suitable influencers. Identifying KOLs whose audience aligns with the brand's target demographic ensures a more strategic and cost-effective utilization of these influential figures, optimizing the return on investment for the brand.
4. Discovered by Live Streaming: Users can learn about a brand through live streaming. As of September 2023, Douyin reported that its live-streaming users have taken up 89.8% of the overall ones. Live streaming proves particularly beneficial for audiences who already have a certain level of understanding about the brand. Douyin categorizes this audience segment as 'A3.'
Douyin e-commerce introduces the concept of '5A Audience Groups' based on the theory of the marketing expert, Dr. Philip Kotler: A1 (aware), A2 (appeal), A3 (ask), A4 (act), A5 (advocate). The A3 group signifies users who are aware of the brand and show interest but have not yet converted into purchasers. Live streaming attracts the audience with low prices and compelling languages, leading to more sales and turning A3 groups to place orders.
5. Discovered by Search Results: Douyin is a platform with a recommendation algorithm as the core mechanism, and meanwhile creates a heuristic search. This combination empowers users not only to passively receive information but also to actively search based on their preferences.
On Douyin, users conduct searches for trending topics, products, benefits, or even pain points. According to the 2023 OceanEngine Search Value Report, the penetration rate of monthly active users on Douyin's search engine (MAU of Douyin search engine users/Douyin MAU) exceeded 92% in 2023. More than 51% of these searches were product-related. In the search result pages, they are exposed to commodity cards, brands’ official accounts or flagship stores, ongoing live streaming and trending topics etc, providing various resources for brands to promote themselves.
6. Discovered by Image Recognition: Image recognition is also a common way for brands to reach out to their users, where they could directly get access to the same products in the short videos. This helps to expose users more frequently to Douyin e-commerce stores and products, potentially increasing the conversion rate. For example, users could find ongoing live streams and products about Fear of God Essential by the outfits of certain KOLs, then directly place an order on Douyin swiftly, enhancing the user experience.
7. Discovered by Comment Section: Douyin, with its highly active user comment sections, serves as a dynamic space where users spontaneously engage in discussions and passionately recommend various products. Leveraging the potential of this interactive environment, brands can effectively tap into the comment sections of popular videos, fostering not only direct engagement but also triggering the secondary spread of the brand. This organic word-of-mouth promotion within the vibrant Douyin community enhances the brand's visibility and influence, creating a ripple effect as users share their positive experiences and recommendations.
8. Discovered by community and Friend Recommendations: Douyin's ecosystem sees a rise in intimate social groups where users share personally interesting content with close friends. This creates a sense of connection and exclusivity as users exchange content within these private circles. For brands, this trend offers a valuable opportunity as content organically spreads among friends and communities. By integrating seamlessly into these shared experiences, brands leverage trust and camaraderie, increasing exposure as users share and discuss branded content within their trusted circles. This ripple effect amplifies the brand's reach through authentic connections.
9. Discovered by Douyin advertisement: Ocean Engine, Douyin’s official advertisement platform, provides splash screen ads, feed ads, internal search engine ads, DOU+, and official enterprise accounts. Brands and merchants could select preferable forms based on their business needs. For instance, feed ads would help brands get more exposure and clicks, which is a good approach to acquiring new customers while opening and operating the official enterprise account aims at maintaining a good relationship with the consumers for building brand images, higher repurchase rate and customer loyalty.
In conclusion, Douyin provides a multifaceted landscape for brands to be discovered, offering a variety of methods tailored to user behaviours and preferences. As Douyin continues to evolve, brands that actively navigate these discovery methods would benefit from the dynamic and engaged user base on Douyin.