Tech Bound #34: The number one app in app stores right now

6 min read

Hey friends,

I will spend some time in good ol’ Europe in the last week of June and would love to meet you! I’m in Amsterdam from June 25th – 28th and in Helsinki from June 28th – July 1st. Hit me up if you want to grab lunch, coffee, or dinner!

I’ve also written a monstrous article about a triple-looped Growth Model for newspapers. I want to write more about actual Growth Systems. “Growth is about systems, not tactics” is something I and many other preach all the time. But we hardly ever show what these systems look like. This is a first stab at bringing more light into the nebulous discipline.

Thanks for reading and have a nice day,


– Case Study

Tik Tok – the most downloaded free app in the world (Q1 2018)

The most downloaded free app in Q1 2018 (worldwide) comes… from China!

Tik Tok, “Douyin” in Chinese, is a short video social network for (funny) music videos. It has video filters and is basically a crossover between Vine and Snapchat.

Tik Tok (Douyin)

This contender comes from ByteDance, which also makes Toutiao, China’s biggest news platform. It’s a serious rival to Wechat, Tencent’s app protege.

Since the app launched in Q3 2016, it has reached 150M MAU and was downloaded 45 million times in Q1 2018 alone. Outside China, in Japan and Thailand, it has reached #1 in free app category, as well.

Users spend more than half an hour on the app per day, with 93% of users being under 30. That’s the format of the app: killing a few minutes. The videos are only 5-15 seconds long and users can scroll through a feed like on Instagram. It’s not coming at a surprise that ByteDance merged with last November.

Users can share their videos with other apps, like WeChat or Weibo. That’s a classic distribution strategy that social networks like Instagram used before: “56% new users download the app because they see their friends resharing their videos on other major social platforms (WeChat / Weibo).

(Tencent recently started to block links to Douyin, starting a ping-pong game of lawsuits)

So, where is all this growth coming from?

First, Douyin actively pushes its power users and helps them to get money, traffic, and followers. They even went as far as recruiting new power users from music schools and work with agencies who build and grow social media influencers.

Second, users started to generate all kinds of helpful videos about life hacks, cooking, etc. Douying didn’t forbid that but embraced the content.

Third, other than other social networks, Douyin launches “hashtag challenges” that serve as creative input for video makers. That’s a smart idea to keep retention high by engaging users over and over.

Fourth, friction is really low on Douyin because it’s so easy to create videos. Users get libraries of filters, background music, and editing tools.

Fifth, a social network would be nothing without interaction. Douyin puts interaction into the center of the app by showing comments while the video is running. They’re as legendary as on Youtube, apparently.

Sixt, personalization is a must-have nowadays and Douyin prides itself on showing a great mix of AI-driven content based on users’ viewing behavior and new recommendations.

Seventh, Douyin has found smart ways to monetize. Users can add links to products in their videos that can be bought in the app, while the video is running. Don’t forget: acquisition > activation > retention > referral > revenue (classic Growth funnel)

Eight, Douyin would have never worked in international markets with Chinese content. Instead, every market has country-specific music and video effects to build a local audience.

Key lessons

  1. Focus on your power users
  2. Find a flywheel to keep retention high
  3. Always seek ways to reduce friction
  4. Never limit interaction
  5. Build a product with monetization in mind
  6. Don’t’ translate, Localize

Credit to:


– Q&A

How to improve content experience

“How do you improve the content experience on a site?”

As always, thanks for asking!

Content experience means every around content that impacts consumption. The goal is obviously to make it as easy as possible to consume the content, whether it’s text, video, audio, or images.

First, I think mobile-friendliness has a huge impact because more than 50% of web users are on mobile devices. So, type “google mobile friendliness tool” into your browser (or click here) and check your site. Also, check the Mobile Usability report in the Google Search Console.

That being said, Usability is always such a “fuzzy” term. It’s not clear what’s meant with it.

Here are some concrete points you can improve:

  • Avoid pop-ups, or at least trigger them when a user scrolls all the way to the end. Popups that cover the whole screen are a no-go!
  • Make the font on your site bigger than 14p! I can’t tell you how often I see text that’s waaayyy too small.
  • Make your site responsive, of course. Check out CSS grids.
  • Use as much whitespace as possible. Increase the line height to leave more space between paragraphs and keep the content width low (800-1000px).
  • Use only images in a high solution.
  • Be descriptive in your headlines and navigation. Don’t call a blog “discoveries”, or so. Call it “blog”.
  • Use as many visuals and images as reasonable.

In doubt, get inspiration from the best-performing sites in your industry, for example, Amazon, Facebook, Slack, & Co. Look at what they do. Don’t blindly copy it but look for inspiration. Test it and make a data-informed decision.


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