by Katie Nalle
Before TikTok, there was Douyin. These apps' interfaces are virtually identical. Both are even run by the same company. ByteDance is one of the largest tech companies in China and although they created both Douyin and TikTok, only Douyin is actually available in China. The Chinese version of the app has been around quite a bit longer than TikTok. In fact, around 150 million of TikTok’s user base actually came from Douyin, but TikTok has now long surpassed Douyin in the number of active accounts on the platform. While TikTok has over 800 million users, Douyin remains at roughly 300 million. However, despite this, Douyin currently remains more technologically advanced than TikTok. We can expect to see more and more elements of the Chinese platform make their way onto TikTok.
While TikTok is generally considered a platform for teens and young adults, there have recently been more adult and middle-aged users joining and becoming popular on the app. This suggests that TikTok’s user base is becoming more similar to Douyin as the Chinese app primarily attracts Gen-Z and Millennial users. This may be due to the fact that China limits the use of other social media sites due to their censorship laws and since Douyin is available, it is more widely used.
On TikTok, you may notice companies or well-known content creators having a blue check mark next to their name. This means that their account has been verified and affirmed as an official account for a major brand company or a popular content creator. These major brand companies used to repost videos from content creators that featured their brand. Brands on Douyin, however, value the business that the content platform brings in and have used it to post original content promoting their products or company. Popular brands, sports teams, and companies are now using the TikTok platform to reach out to creators. They create a positive impression on viewers for videos that they aren’t even producing. This advance in marketing is coming significantly closer to the videos we see on Douyin.
Ads on Douyin are currently much more ingrained into the platform, allowing users to buy products featured in videos in just a few clicks. TikTok has been trending in this direction as well. Companies frequently work with popular creators to make sponsored content that will reach a larger audience through the platform’s algorithm. Recently, videos that look like user-created videos, but are actually ads, have begun to pop up on the app. These videos are equipped with a like, comment, and save button just like any other video, but the actual video content is about what you would expect from a commercial. Even movie trailers will sometimes be shown as an ad video in between original content, similarly to how ads are shown on YouTube.
TikTok is evolving and making the creation of videos easier by adding a text-to-speech option for automated video narration. Since the addition of this feature, TikTok creators have mainly transitioned to using this automated narration rather than narrating their videos themselves. Douyin has always had the text-to-speech option available and the majority of the videos on the platform use this feature.
Videos ripped directly from the Douyin app have also begun to appear on many people’s For You pages. These videos are usually makeup or home improvement related. Makeup transformation videos, which are also popular on TikTok, are taken to the extreme on Douyin by using professional cameras, intense makeup, and prosthetics to alter the users' appearance for a more striking transition. Videos with titles such as “Recreating Douyin Trends” have been popping up on the app as well. The more creators recreate content from Douyin, the more similar the content of the two apps becomes.