Short video app Douyin, known as TikTok overseas, has won over young people around the world since its 2016 debut. According to mobile research firm Sensor Tower, TikTok was the fourth most downloaded non-game app in 2018 and has already been downloaded around 80 million times in the US. What does the story of Douyin tell us about China’s digital media and their audience?

Douyin has a large base of young users: over 40% of users were aged 24–30 years as of June 2018, according to the company’s data (Chinese link). Chinese state television channel CCTV selected Douyin as the exclusive social media platform for its Spring Festival Gala this year, in an attempt to revive falling viewership and interact with the digitally native young audience.

Users want to have fun—but sometimes Douyin has to show them how. Videos are generally limited to 15 seconds. It offers a range of dazzling filters and stickers and preset background music to make compelling videos. Users can give “likes” and post comments on the videos and share the videos on other social media platforms, forming an interactive community where short video messages spread quickly.

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Deborah Weinswig

Deborah Weinswig is CEO and Founder of Coresight Research, a research and advisory firm that provides future-focused analysis and consulting on the intersection of retail, technology, and fashion. Deborah...