How To Get Your Brand Viral Through Short Video Marketing In China
2 Sep , 2020


Although video marketing has been a trend in China for a while; the rise of Douyin has changed the structure of this industry to a whole new level in China. This short-video sharing platform has brought short video marketing in the spotlight. If you want to be a Chinese social media marketing savvy, short videos might be a good place for you to start. In this article, we are here to walk you through some popular short-video platforms in China, as well as to share some tips for your brand to stand out from the fierce competition!

Why is short video marketing important in the China market?

Short videos are surging quickly in the China market over the past two years. According to iResearch, the percentage of short videos in the digital entertainment market has increased almost 3 times since the first quarter of 2018, and has taken up 41.9% of the whole industry in the first quarter of 2020! This marks the importance of investing in short video marketing as there has been a speedy rise in the number of audiences.

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Short Videos are getting a bigger pie in the China Digital Entertainment Market.

Other than the users’ tendency to shift from traditional social media platforms that makes short video market an attractive mean for advertising, the annual revenue of the online short video market in China has also gone through the roof, further marking it a tempting marketing mean to attempt. According to Statista, there has been an exponential growth of the revenue generated from the short video market, from 1.9 billion yuan back in 2016, to 130.24 billion yuan as of 2019; where more than 380 billion yuan will be made by the year of 2022. The approximate 200% increase in annual revenue makes short video platforms a prospective market to focus on.

The characteristic of being fragmented of short videos might contribute to this phenomenon. With the shorter attention span of users in recent years, contents with short yet condensed information are easier to attract the public’s attention. Also, people are more motivated to share short videos with their community, increasing the mobility of short videos, and increasing the exposure rate. Brand’s messages are therefore easier to spread out, making the advertising campaign even more effective.

Douyin vs. Kuaishou – Which Chinese short video platform is better?

If you are familiar with the Chinese short video industry, you might know that Douyin is not the only player in the China market. Other platforms like Meipai, Houshan, and Xigua also attract a huge audience pool. But there is one particular player in China that plays fiercely against Douyin, which has a longer history than the ByteDance product – it’s called Kuaishou. If you are wondering which platform to leverage, this section might be able to answer your question.


Douyin has reached 400 million daily active users in the first quarter of 2020, making it the third-mostly used platform across all kinds of social media platforms in China. Other than 85% of users being post-90s and 70% users coming from first and second-tier Chinese cities, the platform consists of a slightly higher portion of female users with a percentage of 56%.

The contagious video contents, including upbeat music, outstanding visuals, and eye-catching effects attributes to the huge audience pool for Douyin; but other than musically-involved contents, day-to-day live sharing videos are of Douyin’s user interest, making up 21% of all types of content on the platform.

Douyin has become the hub of hot trends in recent years. The creation of different challenge campaigns, such as hashtag challenges, has further increased users' stickiness on Douyin. Challenges also motivate users to create and share videos in the Douyin community.

Another factor credited to Douyin's user stickiness is its video recommendation algorithm, which is based on the virality of videos from users’ engagement. The more popular the video is among users, the higher chance for it to be shown on other users' explore pages. Mixed with the automated video-playing feature, this attracts users to stay on the platform and increases users’ amount of time spent on Douyin.

img 3_Douyin's distribution of ad spend by industry-min.jpg

From research done by App Growing, in 2019, Beauty and Games are significantly contributing to ad spending. If your business involves in these two industries, Douyin could be a great place to invest in.


Kuaishou is one of the earliest short video platforms in China. Until 2019, the platform has already accumulated more than 20 billion videos in its library. Unlike Douyin, 54% of its community is from third- or fourth- tiered cities. The types of contents available are different as well: Douyin's videos focus on delivering entertainingness, while Kuaishou's videos are more of "educational" -- they focus on sharing and teaching all sorts of daily lives hacks. This gives audiences a sense of authentication, for it is easier to relate to daily lives and reality.

Given the demographics on this platform, small businesses whose targeted audiences are from lower-tiered cities would find it easier to leverage Kuaishou for content marketing. For example, businesses can create videos for introducing the functionality and the method of use of their products, which in turn attracts audiences to try out their products. It is common for small businesses to share day-to-day business operations on the platforms, thus creating a sense of friendliness and bonding between merchants and their followers.

Another noticeable difference is that Kuaishou focuses more on users' social engagement. The recommendation algorithm of Kuaishou is socially driven, with 40-50% of users watch content from creators that they already followed; Douyin focuses on algorithm-driven content suggestions, of which 80-90% of the videos users watch is viral videos on the platform with high exposure. The difference in algorithm encourages a higher engagement rate of users on Kuaishou.

Although Douyin has a higher number of users, the differences in algorithms and targeted demographics should not be neglected when choosing between platforms. There are still a lot of Chinese short video platforms to be chosen from. We suggest you do thorough researches before launching marketing campaigns.

Tips to excel in short video marketing in China

1. Fundamentals: Make sure your short videos are legit

China has one of the strictest rules for Internet censorship in the world. There are 100 types of contents and elements being banned to be shown on a Chinese short video. For example, tattoos, shamanic rituals, or materials that support non-mainstream values of marriage/ love are not allowed to be shown on the videos. Make sure your short videos are clean with no restricted contents to prevent being deleted; your account might even be banned if you constantly break the rules. For a detailed list of rules, marketers can visit The China Netcasting Services Association to check out the restrictions on short videos on

img 4_online short videos censorship rules in China-min.PNGOnline short videos censorship rules posted on China Netcasting Services Association.

Also, make sure your audios and music are copyrighted in your short videos. The majority of short video platforms give you an option to upload your own music as the background audio for the video; some of the users might oversee the importance of copyrights. This might also result in the removal of videos.

2. Choose the right China short video marketing platform

Choosing the right platform for the right genre can attract users' attention, and hence increasing your chance for making videos viral. Think about your marketing campaign objectives and study the different characteristics and demographics of different platforms to utilize your best-suited short video platform and genre.

If you would like to grab users' attention using exaggerated effects and contents in your short videos, Douyin could be a great platform for you, as Douyin's users crave for musically- and visually-appealing, as well as fun and creative videos.

Take the example of the 2017 Douyin campaign of Pizza Hut to promote its new "Black Pizza" in China. It created different sets of branded effects and encouraged users to create videos together with the upbeat theme song customized for this campaign. Within 7 days, there were 28,000+ videos made with more than 100 million views on corresponding videos.

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Pizza Hut’s Douyin campaign in 2017 was a huge success.

On the other hand, L’Oréal, the international beauty king, created a Halloween makeup challenge on Meipai back in 2016. Users are encouraged to share their Halloween makeup videos on the platform for a chance to win free gifts from L’Oréal. As Meipai being a women-dominant platform, it is a great platform for beauty KOLs to share tips on makeup. This campaign attracted more than 11,000 users to upload videos onto the platform, while the videos engaged more than 60 million views.

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L’Oréal’s Halloween marketing campaign on Meipai.

3. Create eye-catching Chinese short video thumbnails

Thumbnails leave users' first impressions on your videos. Users will click on the video if they perceive it as relatable and interesting based on the thumbnail. Effective thumbnails can deliver a clear message, and arouse users' interest in clicking. One practice is to include enticing titles on the thumbnails. For example, if you are a clothing seller, you may want to include "5 outfits created from one clothing item". This can keep users in suspense until they click on the video for an answer.

4. Content is King

Content is vital when it comes to the virality of short videos. Choose a topic that can create resonance for your target impressions. Start off by researching what problems your potential customers might face when considering to purchase your products. Leverage short videos’ liveliness to alleviate any potential customers’ possible doubts.

Also, make your videos as short as possible to increase your videos' completion rate. Cut to the chase right at the start, and include only vital information in the videos. Users expect a fruitful of information flow when browsing short video platforms, and have limited patience for irrelevant information. Viewers want to consume the maximum amount of information within the shortest period of time. Therefore, they might quit or skip the video if they realize the video is longer than they expected.

5. While upload Chinese short video timing is gold

You should also pay attention to the time of the day you choose to upload your video. Remember people tend to browse short video platforms during the fragmented time, which includes morning/ evening commuting time, lunch hour, post-dinner time, as well as pre-sleeping hours. Posting on peak hours increases the possibility for the video to be seen, which ultimately enhances your chance for having videos go viral on the internet.

6. Pair up with KOLs on Chinese short videos

KOL marketing is a common form of strategy in China's social media ecosystem in recent years. You can choose to send KOLs PR gifts in exchange for an organic product recommendation video, or simply to gain your probability in getting exposure. An organic recommendation would be more trustable from the audience's eyes and have higher effectiveness in gaining trust from platform users.

Paid advertisement is also possible on short video platforms. Choosing between top-tiered and micro KOLs depends on the marketing budget and marketing goal of the campaign. Top-tiered KOLs are most costly because they create norms for their broader fan base to follow and with a higher exposure rate. However, follower interaction could be less satisfying than micro KOLs who have a niche group of followers; the higher frequency of sponsored posts of top-tiered KOLs might also lead to a less authentic recommendation in audiences' eyes.

You should take platforms' characteristics and targeted demographics into consideration when performing KOL marketing via short videos. For example, based on the recommendation algorithm of virality on Douyin, instead of cooperating with one top-tiered influencer, you can consider diverting your marketing expense onto a few micro-influencers to increase your chance of having at least one video going viral on the platform.

We have an AI-driven influencer management platform to make it easier for you to select the right KOL for your brand. Click here to learn more about our service!

Summary of China Short Video Marketing

Short video marketing has definitely changed the environment in China's social media marketing industry. The massive potential should not be neglected, and you are encouraged to make your brand successful in China market through short video platforms. At AsiaPac, we have a team of expert in China social media marketing, contact us for a free proposal now!

About AsiaPac Net Media

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