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Tik Tok-The #1 App in China (THE NEXT SNAPCHAT!)

Dragon Social > Marketing in China  > China Marketing Strategies  > Tik Tok-The #1 App in China (THE NEXT SNAPCHAT!)

Tik Tok-The #1 App in China (THE NEXT SNAPCHAT!)


Tik Tok, or 抖音 (Douyin), has become the most downloaded iPhone app in the 1st quarter of 2018. By earning the nickname of “China’s Snapchat”, when ByteDance launched Tik Tok in September 2016, no one considered it as anything but another copy of Snapchat.


However, Tik Tok saw its daily active users (DAU) more than double between December  2017 and March 2018, increasing from 17.4 million to 45.6 million. Now they are nearing 60 million users, according to recent record. Download Tik Tok app and joining in has become a new trend among Chinese teenagers.



Short videos and live streaming have become a more important focus for the market and social media agencies in the past 12 months.  According to a survey by AdMaster last year, nearly 22% of respondents said short videos and live streaming was one of the leading social media marketing tactics they used.


Fast forward one year later, and 62% of respondents said they use it. It seems to be more obvious that short video is becoming popular now. However, how could this change help investors to expand their business in China? Keep on reading!



Want to enter the China market with creative short videos?  Want to connect with 60 million people through Tik Tok? The Dragon Social team has analyzed Tik Tok’s success and sum up some tips for you to have a look!



Table of Content(Click to read)


1. What is Tik Tok? How does it succeed? Read Now


2. 4 Major Differences between Tik Tok and Snapchat Read Now


3. Case Study: Wu Jiayu Read Now


4. Why Marketing on Short Video in China? Read Now


5. 4 Steps to  Expand Your Business in China Using Tik Tok Read Now




What is Tik Tok? How does it succeed?


Tik Tok is the most popular short video platform in China now.


In September 2016, ByteDance, the parent company of Tik Tok, sensed an opportunity that short video and the live stream will be a new favorite in the internet media market.


They launched its own platform for short videos, Tik Tok. In the beginning, Tik Tok was considered by both consumers and market as “China’s Snapchat”.


The interaction and UI design of Tik Tok are just like Snapchat and Musical.ly. It is true that Tik Tok just wants to copy the successful business model of Snapchat in North America in the beginning.


However, there are three unique reasons that make Tik Tok more interesting and addictive than other similar apps in China.


Besides its power and interesting functions, Tik Tok is also very smart on marketing campaigns. It aimed at trendings in China very accurately in the past year to promote its new functions and challenges.


For example, in the Spring Festival of 2018, Tik Tok launched series of challenges with celebrities and their fans to imitate the Spring Festival Gala of CCTV(China Central Television). It also spent 50 million RMB as lucky money for its users.


All of Tik Tok’s marketing campaigns in the Spring Festival brought an increase of 70 million daily active users (DAU). All in all, the surprising increase of Tik Tok’s DAU is the result of its interesting functions and smart marketing campaigns.



You can select background music and different video filters in this page



4 Major Differences between Tik Tok and Snapchat



A Massive Number of Songs


As a short-video-sharing platform, Tik Tok offers its users not only lots of popular music with copyright but also hundreds of original music made by independent producers and reproducers.


Tik Tok also invites famous singers to create songs for its exclusive album. For now, there are about 40 singers cooperating with Tik Tok.


Tik Tok’s CEO, Zhang Yiming(张一鸣), said recently that Tik Tok is considering to invite some famous foreign singers, like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, etc., for further cooperation.



Unique Special Effects



Tik Tok provides a series of simple but awesome special effects for shooting videos, including slow motion, reversing, combining videos, etc. These special effects allow ordinary users to shoot videos just like professional visual effects artist very easily.


Tik Tok also provides specific instructions for users to manage these special effects. In fact, with the help of these instructions and other user-friendly designs, Tik Tok is very easy to understand for beginners.



These special effects and daily challenge system keeps users of Tik Tok heavily addicted



Daily Challenge System


As a user, what most puzzling  is that there are not enough ideas and materials for shooting videos. Tik Tok solved this difficult problem with a brilliant idea, the daily challenge system.


This system recommends users challenges on searching pages with special hashtags. These challenges are either organised by Tik Tok’s operation team or are popular with users.


Most of the challenges are very interesting, like the face changing challenge, dancing in public area challenge, wall squat challenge, etc. In summary, Tik Tok created a decentralized and user-friendly platform to attract everyone to present themselves freely and equally on Tik Tok.


The famous “face changing challenge” on Tik Tok



Advanced Algorithm



A promotion picture of Tik Tok



As a short video sharing platform, Tik Tok has its extraordinary algorithm for recommending categories and short videos. Unlike other platforms, Tik Tok chooses to use a decentralized algorithm, which basically allows all videos from all users to be watched by others.


Tik Tok’s algorithm will also decide whether to recommend a video to others or not by divided different users into different groups. This design provides an equal chance to normal users. In a word, Tik Tok’s recommending system is based on contents with high quality rather than the uploaders.


Last but not least, it is highly recommended to download a Tik Tok app or visit Tik Tok’s website to find out those magic functions of Tik Tok.




Case Study: Wu Jiayu


One of the Top 3 KOLs on Tik Tok,


Wu Jiayu(吴佳煜), a 21-year-old KOL on Tik Tok, just downloaded Tik Tok app and create account in August 2017. Nowadays, she has 72.2 million followers and 330 million likes for all of her short videos. And her most popular short video received nearly 400,000 likes. She signed a contract with Haier in March of 270,000 RMB/a short video for Haier’s promotion.


It is true that Wu’s success won’t happen if not for Tik Tok’s development. But she has her own way of shooting short videos to attract millions of followers in a short time.


In her short videos, there are different types of performances like dancing, singing, stand-up, imitation and so on. She is also good at using surroundings as shooting materials. The diversity of her short videos make them easy to understand and interesting to watch.


Wu Jiayu is also an important daily-challenge creator on Tik Tok. She likes to choose some less-popular challenges and make short videos to start a new trend in the community.



One of the Wu Jiayu’s short videos





Why Marketing on Short Videos in China?



The popularity of Tik Tok is already been proved by a bunch of statistics and papers but is it worthy for investors to put marketing focuses on China’s short video industry? Here is some analysis about China’s short video industry:

The ratio of the short video has a rise of 44% from 2017 to 2018-A survey by AdMaster



First of all, starting from 2016, the short videos, especially those who last for about 15 seconds to a minute, are one of the fastest-growing apps in China. Consumers prefer short videos because they are suitable for today’ s fast and fragmental lifestyle.


Therefore it is normal that marketers are focusing their attention on short videos as the ideal storytelling medium to convey their information, whether it is through endorsements from key opinion leaders or advertising.


In terms of ads that might be most effective on short video platforms, a March 2018 Tencent survey found that both male and female short video app users are most tolerant toward those that feature creative and interesting content, while they are least interested in ads that feature “traditional” celebrities.


On the other hand, the business landscape of China’s short video industry is becoming more and more clear now. Last year, the big three internet company in China, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, decided to enter the short video industry and develop their own special short video platforms and contents.


With the move of the big three, it is highly possible that China’s short video industry will be standardized and upgraded. More and more content with higher quality will be found on different short video platforms.



4 Steps to  Expand Your Business in China Using Tik Tok



So far, it is clear that marketing on Tik Tok will be very popular and effective for the future business development. But how to use Tik Tok in a smart and effective way for your business? Here are some tips for you:



Find Your Targets

According to a survey by iResearch, nearly 67% of Tik Tok’s users are under 30 and 56% of them are students. So, before a marketer wants to expand his business through Tik Tok, the very first thing he has to consider is that whether his products are welcome by young people. You definitely would not sell a hearing aid to a teenager, right?



Follow Trends


As we introduced before, Tik Tok’s daily challenging system will tell users what is trending now and what is the next trend. Catching up with daily challenges, especially those with millions of people are participating in, is the best way to follow the trend.

Moreover, keep an eye on festival and major issues of China is also helpful for marketers to seize opportunities. Certainly, the easiest way to catch the trend is download a Tik Tok app of your own to find out what’s suitable for you!



Tell a Story


Tik Tok’s short videos are literally very “short”, just about 15 seconds to a minute. So, how to promote in such limited time is the most important questions for all marketers to consider. It is suitable and wise to tell a story through short videos rather than other traditional methods like repeat and longtime commercials.

Furthermore, to promote through short videos, using Tik Tok’s special effects are much easier for marketers to interact with audiences.



Cooperate with KOLs


Like other social media, there are also a lot of active KOLs in Tik Tok. These KOLs are closer to users sometimes, and they are also key roles to start new trends. Besides, the way that KOLs promote is more low-profile and indirect, audiences are more open to this way.

For example, one of the most popular KOLs of Tik Tok, Zhang Xinrao(张欣尧), create a dance in order to promote OPPO’s new smartphone series. He managed to use OPPO’s smartphone as an element of her dance instead of just talking to people how good it is.





Although there are some difficulties for marketers to realize and seize the value of short videos. But success is always for those who are prepared. Dragon Social understands that it is not easy to find a perfect way of marketing on short video platforms.

When moving into a new market it takes a lot of time to begin to find out about the digital marketing strategies, not to mention the right short video platforms.


Dragon Social can do all of these and even more with our different customized packages, as well as our all-in-one packages. We can design different plans that will suit your company as well as make the most of your budget. If you would like to know more about what we can do for you, visit our packages page!


Dragon Social stays are up-to-date with any trends in China social media marketing.  Contact us or read more to know how to be a successful short video celebrity in China? Check them it out here:


Top 10 China Influencers (KOL) – Beauty and Fashion


Useful Tips for Short Video Clips in China (TRENDING!)




Wilson Li
Wilson Li

Acquired Master of Arts degree at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. A native of Mainland China with a strong passion for marketing and the high-tech industry in China. Currently working for the Dragon Social as a content marketer.

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