Before TikTok swept the world and ignited a global teen dance video craze, its Chinese version Douyin was already a massive force in the world of Chinese social media. While these two separate apps have the same core functions, Douyin (which now has 400 million daily active users) has more advanced features in a range of areas that could be a sign of what’s to come for TikTok. As parent company ByteDance has reached 1 billion users across all its apps, it’s likely that more development and growth are in store. Below are some of the key areas for similarities and differences between the two apps:
While both Douyin and TikTok have the same signature straight-to-video opening screen format, TikTok’s homepage remains more basic than Douyin’s. Both app homepages include trending hashtags, banner ads, and links directly to short videos, but Douyin also features rankings of top accounts in a range of categories including celebrities and brands including luxury, beauty, electronics, and more. Douyin also currently links from its homepage to an in-depth news page on the coronavirus, with a map featuring the number of new cases by province, links to the latest news on the outbreak, and Douyin videos about the topic.
Douyin was the first to offer the option to link from videos to purchase on Taobao/Tmall or directly through the app itself with its shopping cart feature. One example of this would be beauty brand Perfect Diary, which offers links to Taobao to purchase the products featured in its videos. TikTok is following in Douyin’s footsteps with its own e-commerce experimentation, as the app has recently begun testing social commerce by giving some accounts the option to offer a link to purchase from their videos or their profile bios.
Official Accounts and Sponsored Challenges
The format for accounts and brand-sponsored hashtag challenge pages is slightly different between the two apps, with Douyin’s showing a more sophisticated setup. Official Douyin accounts allow brands to list all their previous sponsored hashtag challenges, while brands that have sponsored challenges on TikTok like Burberry place the challenge hashtag in their bio line. Brand accounts on Douyin also feature the brand’s ranking if they are one of the aforementioned top account lists, as well as a link to the brand’s official site. TikTok also allows linking to site from bio, as well as to other platforms like Instagram and YouTube that are banned in China. Sponsored challenge pages are also more developed on Douyin: Burberry’s Douyin challenge featured a custom background and logo, while its TikTok challenge was on the plainer side.
Although Douyin and TikTok are known for short video, intense competition in China’s tech ecosystem means that apps generally adopt a wide range of functions beyond their main focus. For Douyin, that includes livestreaming, which can be accessed in a button in the upper right corner of the short videos on the app. Livestreaming is still in a test phase on TikTok, with availability to users with at least 1,000 followers.
In addition to livestreaming, Douyin also offers full-length movies—a feature that made the news recently when the coronavirus outbreak led to shuttered cinemas across China. The distributor of would-be-blockbuster Lost in Russia agreed to offer the film on Douyin for free instead of releasing in theaters. TikTok has yet to release such a feature.