The charm of short video

the logo for massively popular App TikTok,By Juhi Sidral,all rights reserved


As social media continue to evolve, now people are not satisfied with just posting photos on social platforms, but making some short videos to share their life and some interesting things that they found. In contrast to words and pictures, voice, music and video are more able to record and express some abundant and wonderful contents. In the instant music video, everyone can be the director and first protagonist of their own lives. 

In China, the short video has always been a hot trend, but 2018 is undoubtedly the year that short video outbreak and popularity. Short Video refers to the video content which is played and spread  through various new media platforms, and suitable for people who is on the move and have a short time for leisure, and high frequency pushed. Furthermore, the content of videos combine skills sharing, humorous, fashion trends, social hotspots, commercial advertising and so on(Wochit Team, 2016). Due to the content is quite short, therefore, it can be made into separate pieces, or be a series of columns as well. Now, it is a new forms of socialising and entertainment.

Except for Weibo and WeChat, Tik Tok is the most popular social media platform in China, because it includes rich contents, and people can interact and communicate with others,  and listening to music and watching videos and so on. This essay will discuss the historical development of Tik Tok, moreover, this paper tries to analyse and research its business model and internet ecology. At last, the influences of Chinese society, culture will also be discovered.


What is Tik Tok/ Douyin

Tik Tok is a music creative short video social software that can shoot short videos. The software was launched in September 2016 and is a short video community dedicated to young people(Tik Tok, 2018). Users can use this application to select musics and shot the short video(about 15 seconds) to form their own work, additionally, users can make the video more creative through video capture, video editing, special effects (such as, repetition, flash and slow motion), rather than simply on the mouth. Meanwhile, people also make more friends and know all kinds of anecdotes. In addition, Tik Tok provides a variety of the hottest songs, including Hip-hop, rock, rap, country and so on, or emojis and filters are available for free for over 100 as well(Itunes, 2018). This APP has been launched in all major Android app stores and app stores.



The headquarters in Los Angeles, and has satellite offices around the world, such as London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and other places. In early 2018, TikTok was one of the most downloaded apps in the world(Tik Tok, 2018). TikTok will remain a standalone app in China, where it operates as Douyin and boasts over 150million daily active users and monthly active is over 300 million(Brinksley, 2018). Among them, users aged between 24 and 30 accounted for 40% of the total number(Brinksley, 2018). In less than a year, Douyin defeated other same types of short video apps, and become the most popular social media platform in China.

Apps by Worldwide downloads, by Zheping Huang, at Sensor Tower


The gender and age of Tik Tok’s Chinese users, by Brinksley, at Quora


The historical beginnings of Douyin

Although Douyin took less than a year to become very successful, However, there are many difficulties were encountered in the process. Douyin has been in the process of continuous development and innovation. According to Graziani(2018), the development process is mainly divided into three stages.

The first stage: polishing the basic functions (2016.9-2017.4)

At this time, the product is in the stage that a tool for shooting short video with positioning, which is mainly optimized and upgraded for each function of the shooting function. However, the initial positioning of the application is very clear, that is a instant music video community which is suitable for the young Chinese, and people can enjoy the creative freedom. Furthermore, it begin to lay out gradually towards the social direction. Although the shooting function has been gradually optimized, compared to other short video software there is still a certain distance.

  • Prominent Events:

1. Improves Functionality: Find contacts friends, and invite QQ or Weibo friends. It helps develop more potential users.

2. Change the product name: When the APPS launched at the first time in September 2016, it named Until December, it changed name to Douyin. This is the initial adjustment that based on the market positioning to make users have a clearer understanding of the product, more suitable for the characteristics of the target users, and facilitate the brand proliferation.

3. Marketing events: On March, 2017, Yunpeng Yue who is the most popular crosstalk comedian in China reposted the video that have the Douyin watermark on Weibo, which caused a heated discussion among the users. This is the first time Douyin into the public eye, that led to the first rapid users growth. People do not know whether this behavior is intentional or unintentional, in general, this zero cost launch was a great success. Since then, there are a lot of celebrities join in the Douyin and attracted more followers.

Key Opinion Leaders of Douyin,by Twoeggz


The second phase: Exploit Features(2017.5 – 2017.12)

This is an important period in which the number of users of vibrato has exploded. This stage focused on operation and promotion, accumulates users, and comprehensively deploys the Douyin market. Despite many difficulties, the team is still trying their best to improve properties of the product, creating a more cool and handsome video gameplay, and a smoother user experience. For example, added more 3D effects, stickers and cool props, and continuously enhanced the beauty and filter effects, and created Douyin story, Augmented Reality camera and so on, to make users create more interesting works. At the same time, Douyin has also increased its operations, such as invested heavily in a various of TV shows, and planned lots of marketing activities. In November 2017, Today’s Headlines completed the acquisition of and combined it with Douyin(Wang, 2018). 


The third stage: the future of Douyin (December 2017 to today)

As the major giants have deployed the short video industry, all kinds of short video apps have entered the market, and the short video competition has entered the white-hot stage. In order to achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to ensure a large number short videos that have of high quality, while short videos rely on music, and the copyright and quantity of music are also necessary factors to consider. Therefore, Douyin needs to foster and support the original musicians who have the potential, thereby enriching Douyin’s music resources. However, as the number of users has increased dramatically, and the quality of users is also uneven, It’s hard to avoid some vulgar contents. Therefore, controlling the quality of short videos and comment area comments is also an aspect that the platform needs to focus on. Douyin team should optimise the features of report and comment, allowing users to maintain the content of platform spontaneously, thus reduce the platform pressure effectively.

Business Model 

The most important way to profit from short video is monetisation, including traffic becomes available: custom vertical screen ads, custom in-site challenges, paid promotions, live streaming gifts, video rewards, etc. The second way is value-added services, including purchase of special effects props, priority recommendations, etc.

  • Live Streaming

The short video platform has launched live broadcast functions, and the vibrato is no exception, but the vibrato live broadcast is not essentially for the platform to realize. This is because live broadcast is a kind of strong interaction, which can well maintain the relationship between fans and people. In addition, many people have accumulated a large number of fans, they have the need to monetisation, and users of Douyin are mainly distributed in first-tier and second-tier cities, and their spending power is relatively strong(Chernova, 2018). Virtual gift rewards are the main way of profiting the live broadcast platform. Many people think that live broadcast is the fastest way to make money.

  • Vertical short-screen video ads: commercialization cuts the focus.

Too much contents will distract users’ attention, for  the brand owner, turn advertising into content can  capture the user’s eye in a short time.What’s more, future brand marketing will be more unique and personalized, and 15-second Douyin is in line with this trend. For example, the three advertisements of Airbnb, Harbin Beer and Chevrolet are the first attempt to stream information, and the first time that advertisers try to stream a full-screen vertical screen. For Douyin, the first is a quality content, followed by an advertising. Young users and fashionable products make it easier for the vibrato to become the platform of choice for brand advertisers, because it has highly activeness, the precise users group, and the great advertising value(Digital Marketing China, 2018).

  • Key Opinion Leaders(KOLs)

Increasing the exposure of Douyin through the influence and appeal of key opinion leaders, thus there are a lot of people will use Douyin. In addition, some brands also use Douyin to release the product’s advertisement. After watching the video, the user can click the “new product” button on the page and then go to the related product page on the online platform(such as Taobao) to purchase. Douyin also can launch a special challenge that users participate in advertising creation actively, the perception of advertisers will be deeper (Fung, 2018).

  • Music Copyright and Promotional Realization

Musicians collaborate with music player software, For example, NetEase Cloud Music has also appeared on the BGM’s included song list, using big data to promote high-quality original music videos and discover new people, and according to the user’s clicks and interactions, distribute the advertising revenue to the musicians according to a certain proportion. Protect the copyright of the artist’s work through original certification.

Internet Ecology

Douyin as the most popular short video software in the world, other short video apps like Kuaishou  and Tencent Weishi are direct competitors of Douyin, I think some social media platform like Weibo and WeChat also its competitor, However, Douyin allows the user to use a third party to log in, like QQ, Weibo and WeChat. Meanwhile, it support payment with WeChat Pay and Alipay. Moreover, It also works with music player software and news platforms, such as NetEase Cloud Music,  Today’s Headlines and so on.



What is its the impact on the Chinese Society?

Where there are people, there is a market, there will be transactions in the market, and then there will be commercial value. Douyin has a great impact on e-commerce, tourism and physical stores, because the vibrato has a fast spread speed. When people see food and beautiful scenery, they can’t help but want to see it. Drive the development of the local economy. Secondly, We can learn more life experiences by Douyin, such as cooking and some life tricks. In addition, we have another

window to see the world, because we can see the scenery, food, culture and lifestyle of different places through video.

On the other hand,  Douyin successfully attracted our attention, therefore, we spend a lot time to watch videos. If people stare at the phone for a long time, it will damage our health. Mobile phone users are younger. Most of them are underage. The vibrato team can’t guarantee that every video content is full of positive energy, so some yellow videos will have extremely bad effects on underage. Not only that, some irregular and unreasonable preaching may lead to imitation and harm, in this mixed environment, there will be many short videos that are harmful to society and individuals. Secondly, as a social platform, our privacy cannot be well protected.



As one of the most popular social platforms, Douyin has great influence and communication ability, and its impact on people and society is also good or bad. Therefore, the Douyin team should strengthen the background management to ensure that the content of the video does not involve illegal and bad information, and strengthen the protection of user privacy.










Reference list

Chernova,M. (2018). ”How to Make Money Streaming: 6 Ways to Go Live and Get Paid.” Epiphan Video. July 03, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018.

Graziani,T.(2018). ”How Douyin Became China’s Top Short-video App in 500 Days.” WalktheChat. October 21, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018.

Fung Business Intelligence (2018) “Uncovering the emerging players in China’s e-commerce – Issue 1,Short video platform – Douyin” Accessed November 08.

“How to Leverage Douyin for Advertising ?” Marketing China. July 07, 2018. Accessed November 09, 2018.

Marszałek, W. (2018). “How To Use Short-Video App, Douyin, For Your China Marketing.” Nanjing Marketing Group. June 14, 2018. Accessed November 09, 2018.

Newby, J. (2018). “How Douyin (TikTok) Became the Most Popular App in the World.” RADII China. October 23, 2018. Accessed November 09, 2018.

Team, Wochit. “Why Are Short-form Videos so Effective on Social?” Wochit. February 05, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018.

“TikTok – Video Social Network.” TikTok – including Accessed November 08, 2018.

“TikTok.” App Store. April 02, 2014. Accessed November 08, 2018.

Wang, Yue. “Upstart ByteDance Challenges Tencent With Its Douyin Music App.” Forbes. June 06, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018.

Weixuan Li
About Weixuan Li 6 Articles
Hi, guys. I'm Brittany and I come from China. I'm studying in bachelor of arts, majoring in digital culture. Nice to meet you.

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