More Than Just TikTok, What you Should Know about Chinese Short Video Apps

Business & Technology
Sponsored by Ping Pong Digital

While Douyin and its international subsidiary, TikTok, get most of the headlines, China's short-form video app universe is more competitive than most people in the West realize. Here's the low-down from Ping Pong Digital, the authorities on China's digital ecosystem.

A cell phone displaying the shortcut icons for China's most popular short-form video apps, including Douyin and Kuaishou.
Short-form video apps are coming to dominate China's social media use. Competitors such as Kuaishou, Huoshan, Xigua ("Watermelon" in Chinese), and others are still mostly unknown outside of China.

By now, everyone has heard about TikTok. The hit short video app is already defining a generation of young, creative social media users. But you would be wrong to assume that TikTok is the only popular app China’s creativity and consumer technology companies have to offer.

PingPong Digital has been an official partner of Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin, since 2019. We’ve seen the immense value of these platforms first-hand when integrating them into our clients’ own campaigns. But the success of TikTok in the US and other Western markets didn’t come as a surprise to us, as Douyin had been dominating the download charts in Mainland China for some time. However these two apps are not the only platforms you should consider when looking at your Chinese marketing tool box.

If you look closely, young internet users from all over the world are swamped by short video content distributed by Chinese apps. While TikTok conquered the first world market, making it arguably the flag bearer of this advancement, other Chinese video apps are quietly but effectively transforming the way people in other markets consume short video content.

 

 

There is Kwai, a global version of Kuaishou, the biggest rival of Douyin (TikTok) domestically in China. Kwai reached 3 million DAU (Daily Active Users) in 2019, and dominated the Google Play Store’s list of free apps in Brazil for four straight days.

Kuaishou’s other ambitious attempt was to use its short video app Zynn to overtake TikTok and it almost did it before Apple removed it temporarily due to its paid-to-watch user acquisition model.

And there is VMate, spearheading the short video market in India. Developed by the renowned browser maker UC Web, now owned by Alibaba. VidMate has garnered over 50 million monthly users. Don’t forget Likee, or Like Video, the short video making and sharing tool created by China’s live-stream service leader JOYY and is much loved in Southeast Asia and Russia.

When talking about short video apps today, it is important to discuss platforms outside of the very successful TikTok. China has been exporting some of it’s innovative tech, and has certainly revived (remember Vine anyone?) and reinvented modern-day video consumption.

Western apps are quickly jumping on the bandwagon as well. For example, Instagram released Reel, a self-proclaimed analogue of TikTok, this year.

 

 

All this is pointing out a simple truth for brands: If you wish to reach your audience — no matter where they are — via short videos, you’d better understand how to work with these phenomenal short video apps created by Chinese companies.

In the early days of PingPong Digital’s partnership with Bytedance, almost every brand we worked with would ask us what is the difference between TikTok and Douyin, and it is still the case that where Douyin leads in new features and functions TikTok is sure to follow, but most importantly it’s the users, Douyin is only in China. We have been working with a global athletic wear manufacturer who has a cult like following on TikTok because of their fun and engaging content, for China we didn’t look to just copy what worked on TikTok but instead had to localize and adapt this content for China, this strategy has not only worked in terms of the rapid growth of their Douyin account but also feeds into the local algorithms that drives organic success.

 

 

For businesses, it’s not only key to understand which platforms there are, but how to leverage some of the unique content and ad options these platforms offer. If China is leading the way in some emerging digital platforms arenas, then being China ready can give you a leg up when it comes to leveraging these in the West.

PingPong Digital has been a global partner agency of Bytedance since 2019. If you are interested in learning more about how to reach your global audience through TikTok or Chinese audiences through Douyin and Toutiao, please contact PingPong Digital. They are the leader in Chinese digital marketing having serviced hundreds of brands across a wide variety of industries.