Written by: Kevin Huang
Douyin is known for its high production quality, C-drama level skits, street fashion, and attractive people. Every day, new creators go viral for their jaw-dropping creativity. Today’s story is a tad simpler than that: a Filipino-Chinese teenager from Quezon City has almost half a million total views on his Douyin profile. Meet Aaron Ang, the Chinoy Douyin ambassador!
“Let me get this straight. You went viral for greeting people?” I ask in disbelief.
“Hey! I made a peace sign too!” Aaron gives me a shy laugh. “I wouldn’t say viral, but I’m happy to represent the Chinoy community in China and grow my following!”
In the Philippines, most people (Chinese-Filipinos included) use TikTok, as evidenced by popular TikTokers @chinoy.oppa, @stefanihazels, and @richeryyy. Imagine my shock when a familiar face showed up on my For You Page with thousands of likes on his videos? This article is the result of my interview with him:
It was early February in 2020 when nineteen year-old Aaron Ang, or @aaroncai35, posted his first video to 0 followers on Douyin. It got no views in the whole week, so he deleted it. Little did he know that in just a few months time, the algorithm would change his life.
One evening while idly scrolling the FYP at 11pm, the teenager came across a sound and hashtag where foreigners were gathering on Douyin to meet each other (called #chinesealt) and decided to film a greeting video before going to bed.
The next day, he woke up to more than a thousand new followers from that one video alone. His videos climbed to the top of the hashtag, as well as on the song “Stupid Horse” by 100 gecs.
Eventually, the student became a sort of poster boy, welcoming foreigners to Douyin. If you’re a Douyin user who is not from mainland China, chances are, the algorithm will show you some of Aaron’s videos. His comments section is flooded with thousands of greetings from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, and more! People tend to duet his videos upon going into the app, pleasantly surprised that there are Chinese people who speak English on Douyin.
“TikTok and Douyin’s algorithms are so mysterious.” Aaron shares. “Sometimes, you put a lot of effort into a video and it doesn’t get views. Then sometimes you do nothing and it blows up. But there are certainly some things you can do to help you get noticed!”
With his adorable looks and lively attitude, he is able to give “comfort and energy to people around the world.” which he says was the best thing that came from his Douyin journey.
Fast forward to today, the now twenty-year old Chinoy college student shares his top tips on how to go viral on the app.
1. MOST IMPORTANT: Find your niche and fulfill its needs
“Once you have a video blow up on Douyin, stick with it and do similar things.”
After releasing a few more videos, Aaron’s niche became clear: a) foreigners going onto the app, amazed by the beauty and novelty of Douyin, and b) mainland Chinese who are curious about Chinoy people and overseas Chinese.
He made sure to use hashtags to cater to all of them. “I used Google Translate to find out the hashtags for my target audience. Then I made sure to give them tutorials on how to enjoy more Douyin content as a foreigner, like giving them translation apps, showing them how to get more Chinese celebrities on their FYP etc.”
2. Give Fanservice
“The advantage of being a smaller creator is that you can give personalized fanservice, like memorizing the countries of loyal commenters, their likes and dislikes, and making sure to do some of their requests.” Aaron shares. “So definitely do that!”
The Douyin star confesses that Douyin is better at consistently showing your videos to followers, unlike TikTok, which is really unpredictable. For him, it’s one of the top reasons that people should make the switch from TikTok to Douyin.
“You’ll have a better relationship with your followers on Douyin, for sure!”
3. Know how to deal with hate comments
“Sad. You only have one life, and were born a Filipino.”
“Act your own motherf*#$ing age.”
“Disgusting Chinoy n*gglet.”
These are real comments that still linger on the Douyin user’s videos, left by other foreigners also using the Douyin app. But he doesn’t let them get him down. As a creator, it’s your choice to make the content you want and no one can tell you otherwise (within the rules of course).
“At first, I cried a little.” Aaron admitted, laughing. “But now I just laugh at hate comments, because people who do that are really sad, and probably lack love in their lives. I just wish them the best and thank them for consistently commenting on every video. Fan behavior tbh.”
4. Don’t be afraid to make cringy content
The things that get popular on the app may be a bit strange in Westernized eyes. For example, girls dancing in school uniforms, boys in bunny hats, couples pretending to have affairs, and everyone generally acting like children.
“I think it’s important to go outside of your comfort zone, and it’s also important to be able to laugh and cringe at yourself. Be young and stupid while you’re young! You don’t need a reason to do something. If you want to do a trend, do it!”
5. Manage expectations
“There are professional teachers in China, offering CLASSES on how to go viral on Douyin. So don’t feel down if your videos don’t get traction at first. Once one of your videos blows up, it’s smooth sailing from then on.”
About the writer:
Kevin S. Huang is an aspiring Chinoy journalist, fascinated with all the latest developments in technology and social media. He likes heavy metal music, but listens to the occasional kpop song. Gym is life.