How Chinese Short Video Platforms Are Changing The Game

Menswear KOL Douyin

As the world’s largest mobile phone market, China is leading the way with innovations and changes in how people use their phones. The country has seen an explosion of video content on social media platforms such as WeChat, Douyin, Red, and so on. Brands need to pay attention to what this means for them and be prepared to adapt accordingly.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how short videos are changing the game in China, so you can take advantage of it too!

Why Have Short Videos Picked Up So Much as a Communication Tool in China?

China is proving to be a major player in the luxury market and all brands want to have a piece of the pie. They invest a lot and expect a high return on investment. In the new digital era, we can see that brands are trying an ineffective way to raise consumer awareness through various campaigns.

The new generation of Chinese consumers is young, dynamic, and eager for novelty, so brands must ensure to implement new strategies to attract customers. The Chinese social media scene is overflowing with new brands and products, but the average person can’t keep up.

Brands are now using video on social media platforms as a way to get in touch with their consumers through social media sites like Douyin and WeChat Channel where they upload short clips often featuring celebrities wearing or using items from their brand.

Chinese social media landscape

The arrival of short-form video apps such as Douyin and Kuaishou in early 2017 has led to an explosion of user-generated content for a variety of purposes, from entertaining and informing the masses.

As of 2023, the most successful Chinese social media apps have a short video feature for causes. By the end of this year (2023) China’s short video market is expected to be worth 400 billion RMB, while In 2019, 880 million people in China viewed short videos on various platforms.

Chinese social media users

Why is a short video a good marketing tool in China?

The reasons for such growth are heavy promotion by the such of Douyin (Chinese version of Tiktok) and Kuaishou combined with a strong targeting algorithm and the reduction of users’ attention spam, making short videos a perfect media consumption format, easy to digest and that does not require any form of creation.

At the same time, the many tools offered by this app, allowed users to easily edit entertaining videos that they could share with their peers.

With so many short video apps seeing the light of day, and always expanding Chinese users base, brands naturally started to implement short videos into their digital marketing effort in China.

Keep in mind that short movies and video ads were always a thing, and every major brand present in China will release a short movie during the Chinese Spring Festival.

Despite the rise of short videos, long-form videos continue to be prevalent. Short videos, however, have a more organic and genuine feeling that is extremely appealing to Chinese consumers.

In brief, short videos are an increasingly popular form of content for marketers because:

  • it’s informative
  • entertaining
  • engaging
  • have a high sharing potential.

China’s Most Popular Short Videos Apps

Chinese short-video platforms: statistics

Douyin (Chinese TikTok)

Douyin, also known as TikTok everywhere else in the world is now the biggest social media in the world ahead of Facebook! TikTok/Douyin is a social media app made for creating and sharing short videos, users also have the possibility to broadcast live content.

The app allows users to watch short musical videos, lip-sync to songs, film short videos, and edit them with built-in special effects and filters. The consequent number of TikTok users allows the platform to be used as a medium to spread news and information directed to a massive audience at a very quick pace.

Chinese short-video platforms: Douyin

The Beijing-based short video app, Douyin, is growing in popularity. As of 2023, the app has 700 million monthly active users, who are mostly young and come from first-tier cities, being the perfect audience for luxury brands.

The reasons behind Douyin’s success are:

  1. Helping users grow their community: TikTok actively promotes creators’ videos by increasing traffic on their page.
  2. Unleashing ordinary people’s sense of creativity: Many viral Tik Tok videos are not created by celebrities, but instead by ordinary people exhibiting creative or impressive talents or skills that impress other users.
  3. Thematic hashtags: TikTok regularly launches specific hashtags that serve as trending topics or themes on the platform for users to create videos around.
  4. Make content creation easy and accessible: TikTok provides a predefined toolkit in order to help content creators to make videos almost very easily. Indeed the app allows users to access a large library of background music, filters, and editing tools for all users to use in the creation of their content.
  5. Comment section: TikTok has a comment section available underneath each posted video, these comment sections are usually used by users to discuss and exchange about the video, on many occasions the comment section is as funny if not more than the video itself.
  6. Personalized content: TikTok’s main strength is its ability to determine what kind of content appeal to particular users solely based on their past viewing behavior as well as their likes and dislikes.

TikTok and Marketing

While the average Douyin creator and users are part of Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2010), TikTok is now beginning to attract an even wider user base, indeed according to a study, almost 38% of TikTok users are above 30.

If you are looking to promote a business Douyin marketing could potentially be a great way to create your brand’s visibility and create user interest. However, it is important to keep in mind that TikTok is not meant to be used as a way to increase sales, but rather as a way to show your business’s personality.

Paid Advertising on Douyin/Tiktok

There are currently three types of ads available on TikTok :

  • Brands ads: This is a full-screen short static or animated ad that appears when a user opens the TikTok app for the first time in a long time. When clicking on the screen these brand ads direct the users to a webpage or TikTok account.
  • In-Feed Native Video Ads: Auto-playing full-screen ads that show up between videos of user-generated content, this is similar to Instagram’s story ads, these ads will link the users to a landing page or an app store.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenges: These are themes generated by brands or businesses associated with a promoted hashtag. The goal is to entice users to create videos around the hashtag’s theme and share them.
Lining on Douyin
Lining on Douyin

Kuaishou: Short Video and Live-streaming eCommerce

The company was founded in 2011 and started out as a mobile app: GIF Kuaishou, where users were able to create short animated images called GIFs. Kuaishou app now has 769 million monthly active users.

Originally launched solely as a GIF creator the app has since well evolved to become one of China’s biggest short video platforms where users can record and share short videos. Users can also buy products from the app through stores and partnerships with Chinese e-commerce platforms, such as, Taobao, & Pinduoduo.

Kuaishou short-video platform can be compared to Douyin/TikTok but the main difference is their user base, indeed Kuaishou users tend to behave less spending power than Douyin/TikTok users moreover, for a majority of them Kuaishou users tend to reside in smaller cities. An interesting thing to note is that live streaming is also more consequent on Kuaishou than on Douyin/TikTok.

Kuaishou and Marketing 

  • Create content with a business account: Kuaishou is the ideal Chinese channel to reach young consumers with attractive content. This implies producing creative content such as videos and live streams that engage users and result in raising the online brand presence in Kuaishou. Examples of content ideas to use on Kuaishou: Creating specific topics & hashtags, Posting content that shows products in action, and Running product giveaways to attract customers and KOLs.
  • Advertisement: Kuaishou offers a wide range of paid advertisements, these include: Display ads, Newsfeed ads, and Discover ads. All of which can be in the form of short video clips or banners. These can be used to direct traffic to account profiles, specific videos or live streams, games, external websites, and e-commerce stores. Brands can also promote their own topic tags (or hashtags) on Kuaishou that raise brand awareness among users.

Different types of accounts on Kuaishou

  • Individual creator accounts: can share and create content and interact with friends & followers.
  • Business accounts: can be opened by brands and companies to promote their products, raise their brand awareness and engage directly with followers.

There are various subcategories for brands and companies to register their accounts in Kuaishou. Business accounts can use the platform as standard users however business accounts can also be verified by Kuaishou, who will then place a ‘V’ logo next to the account name as a sign of authenticity.

Douyin vs Kuaishou – which platform is better for your brand?

Although both platforms available in the Chinese market focus on short-videos and user-generated content, they serve different purposes and it’s important to assess which will serve your brand’s promotion better.

As you can see above, Douyin is centered around first-tier cities, so it’s a great app for luxury brands and niche companies, while Kuaishou is more day-to-day products, and live-streaming, perfect for cosmetic brands and lifestyle content.

Other Popular Chinese Short Video Apps

Apart from Douyin and Kuaishou, that are solely dedicated to short video content, there are other popular social media apps and e-commerce platforms that introduced short-video features to adapt to consumer needs in recent years.

Short video on RED aka Xiaohongshu

Short videos are another popular feature of the Chinese app Xiaohongshu which has more than 200 million users. Just like Douyin and Kuaishou, the app has recently launched its own live-streaming service. The recording function is also available, which can be very useful if you want to show your followers the process of cooking a meal.

The app displays nearby places and users usually record videos while on the go around town. Even though it is not as widely spread as Douyin yet, the Xiaohongshu app reflects an alternative way to create social media content on camera for Chinese online celebrities with no need to use professional cameras or lighting equipment.


Short videos on DouYu (for gamers)

Douyu is a Chinese gaming live-streaming app most used by gamers. Users can also it Livestream their games or gaming gameplay with up to 10k concurrent viewers watching each streamer’s screen in real-time as they play a chat and comment in the chatbox. Other features include reply text from the app’s library of music 3 million songs. Players can also filter their audiences’ comments to remove vulgar content or answer questions directly through the live chat.

Like many Chinese streaming apps, DouYu earns money from video ads shown at designated time intervals during streams, however, it is not as popular as YY, Kuaishou, or Huoshan because most viewers come to watch a favorite gaming channel; hence they don’t have too much interest in seeing advertisements.

WeChat: Should brands use WeChat Channels?

WeChat Channel is a relatively new WeChat feature, it was launched as a beta at the beginning of 2020 and has quickly become a staple for users and brands, and the app. To answer the question, YES, brands should absolutely use the WeChat channel.

Wechat Channels: info

Here are some of the reasons that WeChat Channels is great for communicating with your target audience:

  • Major brands have adopted WeChat Channels and publish content there regularly
  • Wechat Channels is increasingly popular with WeChat users
  • The Wechat channel offers more visibility than other WeChat features because of its trendy section that can help users discover their new account,
  • Wechat channel can provide a direct link to the official brand website, profile, or product-related microsite. It also increases conversion rate as compared to other channels such as being distributed in WeChat Moments for a limited period of time
  • Brands should use the Wechat channel because it’s easy to create an account and publish content
  • Moreover, brands could invite star marketing members (influencers) to publish content on their high-end accounts (public accounts), i.e., brands may promote their campaigns by asking influencers.
Gucci on WeChat Channel

Tips for businesses to create a successful WeChat channel

  • Brand should update their content regularly so that customers can always find new things on your brand’s channel. Businesses should know that if they are not updating their WeChat channel every now and then, people will lose interest in it quickly.
  • Collaborate with Kols
  • Post entertaining and original content
  • Use trendy hashtags
  • Optimize videos description for Wechat SEO
  • Use video to WeChat official account/mini program

We are Experts in Short-Video Marketing!

Recent years have witnessed the rise to the top of short videos app and the way people consume content on social media. With a better engagement rate than pictures, text, or audio, short videos offer content creators and brand more flexibility than most communication formats. In China, short videos have become so mainstream, that most apps have adopted them as a way for brands to monetize this feature.

If you’re looking for creative ways to reach your audience through digital platforms, short videos are the way to go. With so many consumers of short videos as well as platforms that offer so many editing tools, there really is no excuse anymore for brands to jump on the video bandwagon and use short videos to complement nicely your digital marketing strategy in China.

Looking for an agency to help you promote your brand in China through short-video marketing? Drop us an email, we have solutions to assist you with the whole process, from video writing to editing and promoting.

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