In May 2020, the short video app TikTok took the top spot in the global mobile app (non-game) revenue. That makes its owner ByteDance the only other tech company besides Apple to have more than 100 million users in both China and the West.
Now according to Reuters, ByteDance has agreed to completely divest the US operations of the app in a bid to save a deal with the White House, and Microsoft would take over TikTok in the United States.
Why has TikTok been so successful overseas? Chinese securities firm CSC Financial explained in a late 2018 report:
In August 2015, the news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao overseas version of TopBuzz was launched in North America, kicking off ByteDance's overseas expansion.
Subsequently, ByteDance spread its products to North America, Japan, India, Brazil, Southeast Asia, and other countries and regions rapidly by means of "overseas expansion of its own products + acquisition".
After 2 years of exploration, ByteDance's overseas market has only grown by leaps and bounds.
Questmobile Q3 2018 data shows that the Jinri Toutiao app has 112 million daily active users.
Its active users spend an average of 81 minutes reading the news and watching videos, which is more than the 50 minutes a day Facebook users spend visiting the app.
ByteDance's short-form video Douyin is quickly gaining global popularity and becoming the new king of short-form video.
Douyin's overseas versions of TikTok and Musical.ly reach more than 150 countries worldwide, making it the fastest-growing mobile app in the world.
In the first half of 2018, Douyin's overseas offerings, including TikTok and Musical.ly, have reached 150 countries with more than 100 million monthly active users and are continuing to grow at a rapid pace.
ByteDance's overseas user base is close to 20% of the overall user base, and in July, Douyin had more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide.
Douyin is expanding overseas and gaining popularity around the world
Acquisition of Musical.ly and successful entry into the US market.
The best-performing Chinese publisher in the US in 2018 is none other than ByteDance, both in terms of the number of product releases or downloads on the Top List.
In the first half of 2018, the best-performing Chinese app on the US free list was ByteDance's short video product Musical.ly.
Musical.ly is the most popular short video app for young users in the US, ranking first in the short video sector in the first half of the year, as it is within the Top 40 on both the US IOS & Google Play free charts.
Musical.ly is one of the earliest short video products in China to expand overseas.
Musical.ly officially appeared in the North American market in the second half of 2014 and has since grown in popularity, once topping the US App Store.
In early November 2017, Jinri Toutiao acquired Musical.ly for a high price, the largest acquisition in its history, and the most important acquisition in the short video space to date.
Musical.ly also lived up to its high expectations, holding on to the #1 spot in US short-form video.
With more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide in July 2018, Douyin has also become the most successful mobile app to expand overseas in recent years.
According to data firm Sensor Tower, TikTok had more downloads in the US in September than popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and YouTube.
Faced with the continued popularity of short videos, Facebook recently had to launch a short video app to counter TikTok.
TikTok's success in the US is just a microcosm of its global footprint. According to data from the app market research company Sensor Tower, TikTok was downloaded 45.8 million times in the first quarter of this year, surpassing Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram as the world's most downloaded iPhone app.
In the Q3 2018 global ranking of products on the non-gaming app list, TikTok managed to reach the fourth spot on the global download list after merging users of music social short video app Musical.ly during the quarter. This represents a 15% increase over the previous quarter and a 440% increase over the same period last year.
The reason for TikTok's global explosion
I. In line with the contemporary trend of content consumption evolution
How the times change is the fundamental reason for an app's popularity, and behind TikTok's popularity is the overall rise of the 90s and 00s.
The rise of short videos is in line with the current trend of the 90s and 00s, whose demand for personalized expression is getting stronger and stronger, and whose interests and hobbies are more and more diversified.
Douyin was launched in September 2016, when short videos were at a high fever stage, fragmented use of time and low threshold low-cost to share information about life has become a favorite Internet product for many people.
From the strategic level of Jinri Toutiao, Toutiao chose All in Short Video from 2016 onwards, after having already successfully laid out a graphic text track.
Douyin, Xigua and Huoshan Small Video are three mobile applications that have been deployed in the short video field in China. xigua is a PGC information short video, while Huoshan and Douyin are UGC short video communities.
Douyin is a short video product that is relatively niche and refined.
Douyin provides a unique soundtrack and auxiliary gadget support, allowing users to continuously produce interesting and short video content.
"Douyin's new brand slogan, "Recording the Good Life", was launched in March this year. The most fundamental reasons for standing out. In brief, these include.
(1) Super filters and beauty features make short videos "exquisite", while high-quality and novel short video content makes short videos "interesting".
(2) The production incentive mechanism is "centralized" and the content distribution mechanism is "decentralized".
On the one hand, Douyin signs up a number of netizens and MCNs to ensure the continuous output of quality content and incentivizes them through advertising and other means.
On the other hand, Douyin adopts a "decentralized" content distribution mechanism and uses an algorithm to continuously mine popular content from ordinary users to maintain user activity.
(3) Continuously guide and create topics to induce the spread of short videos.
Douyin stimulates ordinary users to participate in content production by means of "challenges". On the one hand, it increases the stickiness of user participation, and on the other hand, it provides the platform with a constant flow of fresh content.
(4) Super immersive experience. Unlike Kuaishou, Douyin uses full-screen immersion directly on the homepage after opening, using algorithms to push the content of interest to customers directly.
Immersion is the ability to focus on the current situation to feel pleasure or satisfaction and forget about real-world situations.
(5) Powerful personalized algorithmic recommendations, which is one of Douyin's most core technical strengths.
Relying on Jinri Toutiao's rich experience in the algorithmic recommendation and powerful technology, Douyin determines users' interests based on their browsing history and operational behavior and then recommends content that matches their interests, which drives user growth and strengthens users' reliance on the platform.
(6) Fully utilize the "dopamine stimulation mechanism", using music templates as background music to stimulate the production of dopamine.
Different video content with the same background music can make users unconsciously recall the pleasure they had when watching short videos with the same background music, and simultaneously realize the secondary stimulation of short videos.
(7) Perfect reward mechanism. "Praise" is the "cocaine" of the information age.
In Douyin, the average user's high-quality content can also get a high probability of home page recommendations, so that in the absence of expectations in the case of less than a few hundred thousand more than hundreds of thousands of praise and views.
Without any certain expectation, users suddenly get the attention they can't get in reality, and their brains will secrete dopamine in large quantities to increase their pleasure and happiness.
This creates a virtuous circle, and users will be more motivated to make quality videos.
Localized operation strategy: globalized products, localized content
ByteDance's layout strategy and product operation are inseparable from Douyin's ability to become a global hit.
ByteDance mainly acquires huge market share through massive mergers and acquisitions, star & netizen streaming, and localized operations.
1, US: mainly through the acquisition of mature short video apps.
In February 2017, ByteDance fully funded the acquisition of the US mobile short video creator community "Flipagram".
In November Jinri Toutiao further wholly acquired North American music short-video social product Musical.ly.
In August 2018 the Musical.ly app was officially merged into Douyin's international version, TikTok.
Musical.ly's ability to grow is closely related to its understanding and respect for local users in the US.
Firstly, it has a very thorough understanding of the users, which significantly lowers the threshold for users.
Secondly, it doesn't make too many decisions for users and leaves more of the choice to users.
American teenagers are very individualistic and independent, and they are more willing to make their own decisions. They like to express themselves, and they are confident and open to show others their likes and dislikes.
Statistics show that over 90% of the users on Musical.ly were under the age of 21 at the time, which is a major reason why Musical.ly attracted so many teenagers.
In order to gain more popularity among American teens, Musical.ly launched a number of community events to increase user engagement and create a sense of community.
In the early days of its operation, it launched a campaign called #dont judge me, which resulted in nearly 30,000 new short videos (on the same topic) in one night.
In less than a week, the number of videos under the hashtag reached more than 200,000.
Musical.ly is no longer just an app, it is becoming a cultural and entertainment brand with a high reach within the American teenage population.
When Musical.ly pushes its own T-shirts, many kids buy them on Amazon and wear them to the market.
Many teenage users think it's cool to be a muser.
2, Japan: pulling stars to incubate traffic + local transformation.
Douyin officially landed in Japan in August 2017 and took just three months to reach the number one spot on the Japanese app store free list for the first time in November last year.
Japan has a flagging culture and corporate conservatism, so it's quite difficult for Chinese companies to open up in Japan.Douyin was able to make it this far, to the surprise of many.
During the first six months of hibernation, Douyin's domestic team did a lot of work - everyone on the operations team had a job to do.
They poached influencer from Weibo, Musical.ly, and art schools to create content under this framework as a way to complete the content launch.
This involved two important components: finding influencers with the ability to create content, and the eye-catching and unique gameplay that the Douyin product itself can create.
With a few artists on board, it has since become progressively easier for TikTok to knock on the doors of other entertainment agencies.
Japanese singer Vivian Peng, who has more than 5 million followers on Twitter, Japanese idol group E-Girls, which has been ranked in the top three of Japan's Oricon newsletter list for years, and Youtube blogger Ficher's, who has 4.5 million followers, have all become TikTok users.
Douyin has been localized in Japan to take into account the fact that Japanese people are more shy than Chinese. For example, they tried to simplify the movements to make it easier to imitate.
In addition, Douyin tapped into Japan's crowd mentality by releasing games that are suitable for group challenges, so that the games that everyone is playing are popular in Japan.
3. Southeast Asia: content operation + local netizens breakthroughs
On the day TikTok launched in Indonesia, it hosted an offline party that gathered over 100 celebrities and bloggers as a way to gather this important group of content producers.
At the same time, the Thai operations team has been able to find a steady stream of quality creators from Instagram to become TikTok's seed users.
Douyin's method of running a community through meetups, which Douyin had developed in his home country, allowed the creators to fully share their video creation experiences and, more importantly, to develop a sense of belonging and loyalty to the platform.
In Indonesia, TikTok is the most popular and commonly used social networking application for video, with 90% of Indonesian respondents aware of TikTok and 55.2% of respondents using it.
Other popular platforms include Kwai, Musical.ly, and Dubsmash. the most popular TikTok video content is comedy (71.6%), followed by dance (68.3%), fake singing (58.1%), and freestyles (48.2%).
According to APP Annie, TikTok has been downloaded by more than 10 million people in Thailand, a country of 68 million.
CAMIA selected the top 40 apps and games from the Google play store's Thailand and Philippines free charts on July 10, respectively, and statistically ranked their downloads for the week (2018.7.4-2018.7.10) to summarize the top 20 downloaded games and apps for the week. See the following infographic for details.
Q&Me, a Vietnamese market research firm, has captured the top apps on the APP Annie download chart on September 10 and summarized their rankings from June to September.
On September 10, the most popular apps on Android devices were quite different from those on iPhone devices.
Vietnam's VNG flying chess game 60 mobico ty phu and social networking app Hago and TikTok were the top 3 most popular apps for this category.
Shopee and Lazada are also in the Top 7 for Android devices, and the difference between them seems to be not too big when looking at the overall rankings from June to September.
TikTok has three main initiatives in its international rollout.
(1) Large acquisitions to seize mature markets and stifle future competitors.
In order to enter the mature US market, ByteDance first acquired the US mobile short video creator community "Flipagram", and then spent US$1 billion to acquire Musical.ly, a North American music short video social product.
On the one hand, the US is a mature market for short video, and it will be very difficult for new products to enter and capture the market, and competitors will take countermeasures, which may be very costly.
On the other hand, it has successfully stifled competitors in advance, and can fully learn from the local operating experience of Musical.ly and Flipagram, and copy them to the world.
2) Integrate social and offline traffic. They represent local cultural labels to a certain extent and have mature content channels and fans of their own.
In Thailand, the presence of well-known artists has attracted numerous fans.
In Japan, Douyin has entered into a partnership with HORIPRO, the country's second-largest talent agency, and artists from HORIPRO have been stationed in Douyin and released their work.
TikTok uses traffic to entice users to sync their filmed videos to social software such as Instagram and Twitter, and more and more followers stream back to TikTok from social software platforms, thus making customers stick to TikTok.
In overseas markets, the mutual streaming effect of these channels is very significant.
3) Localized operation. Firstly, we increase the investment in local online channels, secondly, we do localization renovation, and thirdly, we employ international talents who are familiar with localization.
In the channel investment, the growth of user data and influence is behind the increase in investment efforts.
Many of the overseas users saw TikTok ads on Twitter and then tried to download and use it.
In terms of localization, TikTok incorporates the local song and dance cultures of many countries into its mini videos.
If the content is a hit in China, operators will determine if it is suitable for other markets. If so, the content will be promoted to the global market, such as OGGM, Dura Dance, etc. Meanwhile, any popular content in overseas markets will be recommended to the local operators.
In terms of local talents, TikTok usually recruits a large number of international talents with cross-cultural background and familiarity with local culture to develop overseas markets.