[Beginner Guide] Douyin Marketing for Brands & Marketers

Douyin, known as TikTok outside of mainland China, is a social media app that is quickly gaining popularity all over the world. In this guide, we will introduce you to the basics of Douyin marketing and give you some tips on how to make the most of this powerful platform. Whether you are a brand or marketer looking to reach new audiences or increase engagement with your current followers, this guide has something for you! So let’s get started!

We will be looking at:

  1. What is Douyin?
  2. How to get a verified Douyin account?
  3. What are the different types of ads on Douyin?
  4. “organic” ways to reach your target audience on Douyin
  5. Douyin Case Studies

What Is Douyin?

Known as China’s version of TikTok, Douyin is one of the fastest-growing Chinese social media platforms, empowering its users to become content creators that share their passions and creativity through short-form video content.

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Unlike other short-form social media, however, Douyin is not positioned as a lifestyle application. Instead, it markets itself as an entertainment hub for millennials and Gen Z users, with its fun and easy-to-use yet powerful video editing capabilities.

If this all sounds familiar to you, then that’s because Douyin is managed by the same company that gave birth to TikTok: ByteDance.

With as many as 600 million users already using their platform, Douyin’s most trending videos easily get 30 to 200 million views in just a day.

Due to its large consumer base, Douyin is naturally one of the best Chinese social media platforms to use if you want to expand your brand in the middle kingdom. Douyin marketing, therefore, is a no-brainer if brands aim to penetrate the Chinese demographic, especially its Gen Z and millennial population.

For instance, due to the rise of eCommerce in China, and in extension, the world, social media platforms have integrated eCommerce marketing as part of their features. Douyin is no exception in this as they signed deals with Taobao, T Mall, and other online shopping platforms.

Content Categories in Douyin

Like global brand TikTok, Douyin divides its content into categories that allow its users to sift through the content that they want to watch and consume. Users take a selfie or a video of themselves and then add music on top of it to create their content.

Categories in Douyin include:

  • Comedy
  • Dance
  • Pets
  • Education
  • Celebrities
  • Makeup

As we said before, Douyin has integrated eCommerce and other brand growth features in their app that helps marketers to reach their target audience.

Firstly, they have developed a payment platform within the application that is similar to existing platforms such as AliPay and WeChat Pay. Users will then have the ability to purchase a product from inside the app through a brand’s or KOL’s live stream or a native store.

Douyin also makes it possible to integrate your Taobao or TMall store within your videos so people who watch your videos can automatically go to your shop and buy the product.

Furthermore, like TikTok, Douyin also now offers long-form videos instead of just 15-second clips which means that you can create longer video content for your audience.

Lastly, Douyin also offers an Official Account verification for brands that enables them to run sponsored hashtag challenges and link their brand store in their bio section. Official account status makes you less vulnerable to account imitations which are notoriously popular on all of China’s social media platforms. Users are more likely to engage with your brand if you have the Official Account status as well.

Getting a Verified Account in Douyin

Getting a verified account in Douyin is relatively easy. For individual accounts, all you need to have is:

  • At least 10,000 followers
  • At least 1 video published
  • A linked phone number

For businesses, however, you still need to get the following:

  • A Chinese Business License
  • An ICP license (if you want your Douyin account to be linked to your website)
  • An application letter
  • And pay an annual fee of CNY 600

After these requirements, you can now proceed to the verification process. You just need to go to Douyin’s official account platform and complete the verification form which asks for your:

  • Account Type
  • Category
  • Scanned of Business License
  • Name, Phone Number, Email Address
  • Place of Operation

Getting a verified account helps bolster your branding and grants you access to paid Douyin advertising, longer videos, customized stickers, and priority over other video content in the same category of the platform. This in turn maximizes your brand’s reach within the platform.

Different Advertising Tools of Douyin and How To Use Them

There are a number of benefits to running paid ad campaigns on Douyin, one of the most popular social media platforms in China. For one, paid ads give you access to a wider audience than organically grown followers. And because Douyin is extremely popular with young people, running ads on the platform is a great way to reach this highly coveted demographic.

Additionally, Douyin offers very sophisticated targeting options, so you can make sure your ads are being seen by the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service. Finally, running paid ads on Douyin can be relatively inexpensive compared to other social media platforms like Weibo or WeChat.

Douyin offers three types of advertisement to use for brand marketing:

Open Screen Ads

This type of ad is paid per cost of impression or CPM. Open screen means that an advertisement will be displayed as the user opens their Douyin app. You can either use dynamic or static ads for an Open Screen ad.

This ad type, which lasts between 3-5 seconds, can be very effective since this leaves a strong impression on users. Furthermore, open-screen advertisements can be displayed to users for unlimited amounts of time every single day.

Feed Ads

Feed ads function similarly to Open Screen ads. The main difference, though, is that they are not displayed immediately as the user opens their Douyin app.

Feed ads are seamlessly integrated into the user’s feed as if they are just an ordinary Douyin content video. Unlike Open Screen Ads, however, feed ads can last for a minute. 

Sticker Ads

Remember when we told you that you could create customized stickers for your brand? Well, these custom stickers can be used as a tool for your marketing campaign on the platform.

Users can then use these stickers as some sort of filter in their content, contributing to the awareness of your brand or the product that you are promoting.

More Way To Reach Your Desired Audience on Douyin

Because Douyin does not provide stable statistics like Instagram and Facebook, leveraging content on this platform is harder than it seems. However, there are a few proven ways to succeed in Douyin and reach your desired audience.

The first and most effective way to increase your brand’s reach is to work with already-established KOLs on the platform. Influencers play a huge role in your Douyin marketing strategy since they can help you in quickly increase your brand visibility and expand your network.

You can maximize the use of KOLs in your Douyin marketing by analyzing their target audience and determining whether or not they’re the audience that you want to cater to. Of course, influencers who have a sizable following will charge a larger fee. So, you should carefully examine their communities before striking a partnership with them.

douyin marketing KOl

The second but more difficult Douyin marketing strategy would be to create as much content as possible. This is because it will take some time before the platform’s algorithm can recognize who your target audience is. You can help it by regularly engaging with users that you think fit your criteria of desired audiences.

Keep in mind that this strategy requires constant churning out of original, creative, and appealing content. This means that you have to research accounts that you think resemble your desired content as your inspiration so you will be able to create content that resonates with your target audience.

Brands That Successfully Used Douyin

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is one great example of a successful hashtag challenge within the platform.

Douyin partnered with this American luxury brand and hired 3 KOLs to feature Michael Kors products by using them all around the city and using the urban landscape as their version of a catwalk.

This challenge invited other users to do the stunt with the same hashtag promoted by the brand and the KOLs.

Brands like yours can use this as part of their Douyin marketing strategy. In fact, instead of going through Douyin, you can go directly to your target influencer for a partnership deal.

Adidas neo

Adidas had a different take on using Douyin. Instead of making a challenge by using KOLs for their marketing, Adidas used the platform’s short-form capability to exhibit their brand personality.

They hired local celebrities and KOLs and used their products as accessories for their active lifestyle. AdidasNeo’s younger audience is more likely to respond to this type of marketing since KOLs lead the way in fashion in China.


Oreo presents a successful case study for a brand that uses the Feed ads feature of Douyin.

Instead of relying solely on the reach of influencers, Oreo invested more in creating ad content that will seamlessly appear in a user’s news feed, presenting dessert ideas, and even encouraging users to make their dessert-making moments.

Pizza Hut

Like Oreo, this food brand did not invest much in KOLs. Instead, they used customized stickers to promote their brand.

They made a sticker for their iconic red hat, sunglasses, and their shop signs for millions of users to use in their video content.

Douyin Marketing: our Final Thoughts

China has a vibrant social media landscape, and it’s no surprise that Douyin has already gained a lot of users in just a few years.

This calls for brands and even other social media networks to adopt a brand new strategy if they want to stay relevant in front of many users, especially the millennials and Gen Z, who are the primary user demographic for Douyin.

Want to set up your Douyin Marketing Strategy?

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