What Is Toutiao? (Chinese Social News Platform)

Sat, 11/21/2020 - 00:32
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It’s been about two years since I had Toutiao on my phone, but I gave it another try this week.

I’ve got to say that it is a very interesting app, and it’s more than a bit addictive too.

It’s known as a news platform, and that was my impression when I downloaded it way back in 2018.. But trying it out in late 2020, I see that it has a wider variety of content on it then it did back then. And it just feels smoother and more fun.

In this post, I’ll give you a brief overview of how it works for users, and some of the options available for marketers as well.

Launched in 2012, the official name of the app is “Jinri Toutiao” (今日头条) and it’s one of China’s major digital technology conglomerates ByteDance’s main tools.lAccording to Statista, Toutiao has over 270 million monthly active users. 

A few other stats:

  • Users make up to 600,000 posts per day.

  • About 60% of it’s users are male.

  • 85% of usersare age 18-30.

 

What’s It Like Using Toutiao?

When I open up the app, it’ll show me a content feed. It’s as simple as that.

It’s known for having a magical algorithm and suggesting content that I might find interesting. How did it know that I like 酸菜鱼 (pickled-veggie fish soup)?.

The types of content that Toutiao shows me are rather broad. Rather than zooming in on one or two topics, it displays content from a range of topics s I’m interested in. Plus, it seems to have a way of predicting random content that isn’t at all related to the usual topics I follow. 

Toutiao works in different ways to WeChat, where the Moments feed is just everything my friends have posted in chronological order. Many of my friends post promotional content, and the feed often turns out being pretty boring.

If I were to compare the feel of Toutiao’s algorithm to something from the Rest of the World, I’d say it’s somewhat similar to YouTube. It’s smart, shows a variety of content and is sometimes unpredictable. But that’s where the comparison to YouTube ends.

Unlike YouTube, Toutiao has a range of content types within the feed:

  1. Articles with text and images.

  2. Videos.

  3. Livestreams.

  4. Answers.

  5. Microblogs (微头条).

 

Articles will sometimes have videos within them too.

toutiao_feed.jpg

The above screenshot contains a video about alien lifeforms,  an article about the Mongolian economy, and an article about a Japanese film. These are all actually things I might actually want to check out.

If you would prefer a 10-minute video tour, check it out here:

 

 

 

How To Add Content to Toutiao

Toutiao isn’t the place to add your family photos or random tweets. But it is a place to share newsworthy content that you would like strangers to see, and maybe a LOT of strangers.

Both individuals and business can sign up and start posting. But to sign up, you’ll require a Chinese phone number and Chinese business.

If you’re doing other content marketing in China, the quickest way you can benefit from Toutiao is to start an account and repost content. I am seeing other accounts do this.

For example, my company has invested more in developing content for the Q&A platform Zhihu. When we create a great article on Zhihu, we can also share the same article on Toutiao.

With so many different platforms out there, marketing teams need to decide where to invest their time. Because Zhihu is better suited to my company’s clients, we prioritize it, and create unique high-quality content specifically for Zhihu. But, once that content is created....might as well share it on other platforms too, right?

Here are a few tips for helping your content spread:

  1. Don’t use clickbait. The title should match what’s in the content.

  2. Don’t jump straight into a hard-sell.

  3. Create content that you think your target customers will love. If they do, Toutiao will realize it and share the content with more people like them.

Advertising on Toutiao

Toutiao earns money via advertising. So it offers a variety of targeting options. I haven’t used them myself, so I’ll share a translated excerpt from the Beauty of Marketing WeChat account.

Toutiao has three options for driving traffic.

One - “Toutiao Account Extra”

This ad product lets you pay for however much traffic you want.

As you can see in the example images below, your ad will be placed within the news feed. You can use any media type—article, image, video, microblog, etc.

You can target users based on:

  1. Gender

  2. Age

  3. Phone type

  4. Geography

  5. Profession (job role)

  6. Industry

  7. Brand preferences

  8. Other

toutiao_ads.jpg

Two - “Toutiao Fan Boost”

This ad product is built to help you reach, and distribute more of your own content to a bigger number of your fans. It’s said that you can expect to reach up to 65% of your active audience.

Toutiao’s “Fan Boost” can only be used to promote articles or microblogs. If you have access to it, it’s easy to turn on to give your content an extra boost.

Three - “Toutiao Gas Can”

This is a new ad product that is similar to Douyin’s “Dou+”. It will help spread your organic content to fans and strangers alike.

None of these advertising options give you a way to spend money to drive conversions. All of them still need you to create great content that your potential customers will love.

Toutiao Ad Conversion Cards

Within your advertised content, you can insert one of three types of conversion cards:

  1. Product card.

  2. Mini-program card.

  3. Video card.”

toutiao_2.png

 

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