Tik Tok vs Douyin: Overseas Vs Chinese version? NOT REALLY


The app Tik Tok has been a very popular topic during these last few weeks, which not only confirms the commercial value of this app in the international market, but it also makes it a significant representative of the overseas success of Chinese products. Especially during these past few days, there have been a lot of questions about Tik Tok and Douyin, with many wondering whether they are the same app or somehow different. Overall, we could say they are similar but also different in many ways. You want more details? Keep reading!

Registration 注册登录

Because Tik Tok and Douyin are used in different networks, the accounts that can be used for registration are different. On Douyin you can register with mobile phone numbers, WeChat, QQ, Toutiao and Weibo, while on Tik Tok you can use an overseas mobile phone number, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Line and KakaoTalk to register. In addition, on Douyin there are two different kinds of accounts distinguishing between individual users and enterprises, but on Tik Tok there are mainly personal accounts, with a few enterprise accounts but with no public authentication channel available yet.

Searching Rules 搜索规则

Searching on Douyin mainly depends on keywords. In the same search section, accounts with more fans and likes will be ranked first and, if the account is verified as an enterprise account, it will also rank higher than general accounts. On Tik Tok, users can search for global accounts, but the algorithm will give priority to local content.

Visibility Rules 推送规则

Because the traffic assignment of Douyin is decentralized, this algorithm gives everyone the chance to gain a lot of traffic on the platform. The visibility settings are influenced by engagement, recommendations, virality and user habits.


Engagement 流量池

The evaluation of engagement is mainly about the number of likes, comments, reposts and completion rate. After the initial release of a video, Douyin will intelligently direct dozens to hundreds of traffic to the video according to the region and followers. According to the performance of the video in this “flow pool”, Douyin will decide whether to recommend this video to more people.


Algorithm recommendation 叠加推荐

Under the comprehensive evaluation of the number of likes, comments, reposts and completion rate, if the engagements reach a certain degree, a video judged as popular and of high quality content by the system will automatically be added to the recommended section.


Viral posts 热度加权

Only videos with high comprehensive data will enter the popular recommendation section, and the criteria of judging the popularity is in the order of repost > comment > like. Moreover, the evaluation of its virality will also take into account timing in order to ensure that there will be a continuous influx of new content.


User habits 用户心理追求

This is similar to the big data analysis of user habits. The system will intelligently recommend the content that users may be interested in according to their search history and previous engagement with other posts, among others.


That said, Tik Tok works a bit differently. Tik Tok will give priority to the content of the local area. For accounts with large traffic, they can be spread to similar cultural regions, but accounts with small traffic are basically limited to the country or region where the user is based. In addition, users will mainly see comments posted by users from the same region/country, even if the video has spread to several different places across the world.

 Content Style 内容风格

Douyin’s feed is characterized by an endless stream of videos with content related to education, comedy, adorable pets, and food, offering interesting content for users from every age range. In contrast, the content on Tik Tok is more popular among younger generations, and videos from different countries and regions also have their own local cultural characteristics and styles. This explains why according to recent reports, the age range on Douyin is different from the one registered on Tik Tok, with people mostly ranging from 30-45 years old using Douyin and users under 30 using Tik Tok. 

E-Commerce 变现方式

Douyin offers the great option of being directly linked to Chinese e-commerce platforms. In fact, both Taobao and JD.com can be used as landing platforms after choosing the e-commerce function. However, and this might be one of the biggest differences and current weaknesses of Tik Tok when compared to Douyin, Tik Tok has a higher level of restrictions, as the app can be linked to Amazon, but this option is only open to some areas and certain users.


In conclusion, if at first sight Douyin and Tik Tok might appear similar, there are many differences that are clear to see, from the algorithm, content style and users. Tik Tok’s international popularity definitely places it in a great position to keep innovating the platform and increasing the features available, but it’s also true that the political pressure received in many countries, along with the new competition of some big players such as Instagram’s Reels, are putting its survival at stake.