Launched in 2005, Douban is an interest-based social networking platform popular among younger generations.

It can be seen as a sophisticated hybrid of Amazon’s book review platform, IMDB, Blogger, Facebook, Pandora, MySpace, Spotify, and Pinterest. It is a truly unique social platform where users can share their opinions and create content related to movies, books, and music.

Principal Features

Douban movies, books, and music

The core content of Douban are the reviews generated by its users on movies, books, and music.
Movies: This section is similar to IMDB (which is periodically blocked in China) and is the main forum for movie reviews and the latest gossip.

Books: The section for users to review and discuss books as well as sharing their notes.

Music: This section is similar to MySpace, where users can rank songs on a 0-10 scale.

Douban personal page

Users can write microblogs, post photos, and comment on other publications. Users are able to follow the personal pages of others.

Douban home page 

The Douban home page consists of two sections. The section labelled “Following” allows users to follow the latest publications of their followers. The section “Recommendation” enables users to find articles recommended by Douban. The combination of these sections allow users with similar interests to find one another.

Douban city events

Douban users can view upcoming local events and create new ones as part of “Douban City Events”. Whether it’s a festival, an exhibition, a movie screening, or a live theatre performance, there aren’t many restrictions on the type of event users can create.

Douban discussion groups

Douban Groups is an online forum in Douban. They’re divided into different categories: Culture, Travel & Photography, Entertainment, Fashion, Lifestyle, and Technology. Users can create a specific theme for their group and add sub-topics.

Each category constitutes of large clusters of users, whereas individual groups are based on small niche communities serving specific interests. This clear segmentation can help marketers target specific interest groups more easily.

Main targets

Douban is based on organic content generated by users, a large proportion of which are book and movie reviews, in addition to art and hobby-related content.

Compared to other relationship-based applications in China, Douban is more focused on lifestyle and cultural activities. Such focus makes it very popular among well-educated white collar users. Those who use the platform are called Douban-ers, and they are usually considered to be new lifestyle drivers or urban trendsetters.

According to Doctor Yang Bo, the founder of Douban, most of the users live in one of China’s main cities. They are office workers, artists, freelancers, and students who share common interests in arts, culture, and lifestyle.

Brand strategies

Peer recommendations play a hugely influential role in shaping the purchasing behavior of Chinese consumers. With this in mind, Douban is an important platform for brands who want to develop their digital presence in China as it brings users with similar interests and tastes together.

Brands enjoy a variety of options when it comes to using Douban:

Card ads

These appear in the Douban homepage (following and recommendations), in a similar style to Weibo ads.

Douban city events

Brands can create their own events and invite the users to participate as part of the “Douban City Events” function.


Brands can send sample products to KOLs and invite them to post their feedback on Douban.

Discussion groups

Douban discussion groups are similar to Reddit groups. Users access groups on Douban to find out more about specific discussion topics. By providing relevant and interesting information, brands can also promote their company and its products.