If you’re not familiar with Zhihu, it’s time to get acquainted. By leveraging Zhihu, you can reach a vast audience of potential customers who are already interested in your product or service. In this blog post, we introduce you to social media/q&a, its main features, and show you how to effectively use Zhihu marketing to your advantage.

What Is Zhihu? 

Zhihu is a Chinese question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, followed, and edited by internet users, and the questions can be about anything. It is China’s most popular and trusted Q&A platform with 94 million monthly active users.

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In Zhihu, users start discussions by posting questions on a variety of topics. However, due to the regulations surrounding what can be said online, the administrators of the platform monitor for sensitive content. 

Users can go on the platform by signing up for user accounts. There are different types of accounts. However, for businesses looking to capitalize on the platform’s brand awareness use case, there are business user account options available. 

As with its Western counterparts, users can gain a following with their reputation on the platform. Verified users, in turn, can follow other users who have a lot to offer as regards answers or expertise. 

Users improve their standing in the platform based on the accuracy of their answers to questions. The sheer number of threads in which they take part also counts towards their reputation on the platform. Users of reputable standing receive badges that add to the legitimacy and visibility of their responses and posts. 

Beyond Q&A: Zhihu’s Features

At a glance, Zhihu resembles any Q&A forum platform. However, it brings more than a series of topical discussions to the table. Zhihu boasts added features that are not present in its Western counterparts. 

Here are some of the features of Zhihu you will not find or experience on Reddit or Quora: 

Zhihu University 

Zhihu University is the platform’s informational and educational hub, containing a vast library of resources. The resources range from ebooks to other downloadable publications written by experts in several fields of interest. Zhihu University also has a section for live seminars users can access. 

There are also educational courses that are downloadable on the platform. Some are free while others will require payment or a subscription fee.

The bookstore of Zhihu University is the platform’s one-stop-shop for downloadable books. They are authored by both users and experts in the field. 

User-targeted Interfaces

Zhihu requires users to have accounts for one reason — monitoring. Zhihu monitors the site behavior of its users to best deliver or show content that may be of interest. 

The so-called Chinese Quora has three user-targeted interfaces. Each caters to the specific interests of the user. These are: 

  • The homepage shows recommendations based on who the user follows
  • “Discover” which highlights the hottest discussions under subjects of the user’s interest
  • The topic interface, features subjects that might interest the user

Zhihu Column

The Column is the platform’s online magazine. In the Zhihu Column are blog posts from authorized users. The platform updates this section frequently and regularly. 

Zhihu Users: Educated, Young Adults from the Chinese Middle Class

Any marketing strategy should begin by identifying a target audience. If you want to promote your brand or products on Chinese Quora or Zhihu, your strategy needs to begin the same way. 

Zhihu users seem to belong to one sort of demographic — the young middle class. A look at the statistics will prove this. 

According to market studies, nearly 100% of Zhihu users are above 18 years of age. Of this proportion of the user base, 80% have bachelor’s degrees. 

Most Zhihu users also earn upwards of 10,000 RMB (around $1,570 per month). From the data, we can extrapolate that users are young professionals.

Some data can also guide your location targeting. Since the platform’s founding in 2011, residents from major Chinese cities have warmed up to it. In fact, nearly 50% of the user base comes from cities like Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai — all tier-one cities.

In short, you will be tailoring your Zhihu marketing strategy to educated young adults who have disposable income. Most importantly, your Zhihu target audience will be from China’s tier-one cities, meaning that you need to be targeting these localities. 

Signing up as an Overseas Business

Using Zhihu requires a verified user account. A business account will grant you access to the platform’s marketing and advertising functionalities like newsfeed ad banners — that is if you have registered on the mainland.  

Unfortunately, Zhihu business accounts are only available to businesses that have registered on the mainland. Luckily, there is a way to work around this. 

While businesses overseas cannot register for a business account, there is no rule banning individuals from signing up. After signing up for an individual account, you as the account owner will be able to act as a representative of your company. With a Zhihu individual account, you will be able to promote your brand to as many as 420 million registered individual users. 

  • Step 1: Enter a Mobile Number. The first step is visiting the Zhihu site to register. The first piece of information the sign-up prompt will ask for is a mobile number. This number is where you will receive your verification code. 
  • Step 2: Enter Your Verification Code. After performing step 1, you will be redirected to a page that will request a verification code. Once you receive the code, carefully enter it. Upon your entry of the code, you may now set your account information. 
  • Step 3: Provide Your Account Details. Your account details will include your desired username and password. Once you set these, your account will be ready for usage. 

Zhihu Marketing: Organic and Ad-driven

Given the type of platform, Zhihu is, your brand promotion needs to be centered around relevant content. Contributing to accurate and timely responses and threads that are relevant to your industry or niche is key. With enough contributions, you will gain a following and draw more eyes to what your business has to offer. 

On the advertising side, Zhihu has two options from which you can choose. You can advertise on the platform’s newsfeed or in the forums. 

Display/Open-screen ads

Appears upon opening the Zhihu app. Users have a choice to skip the ads if they wish to. Publishers have the choice between a picture or a video format for this type of ad and can link to a landing page of their choice. On the picture above, for instance, the link sends to Pamper’s Tmall Chaoshi page.

Newsfeed Ads

Newsfeed ads are exactly that — ad banners or pop-ups that show up on the users’ screen as they visit the site. There is more to it than this. Due to Zhihu’s user targeting capabilities, ads appear on user accounts based on a registered business’s niche or industry. 

Zhi + Ads

Zhi + ads allow you to advertise or link your brand somewhere in the forums. The link or banner may be part of your answer or constitute the entire response to a question. Of course, it is crucial that the ad is relevant to what a user is looking for. 

Compared to Zhuhu newsfeed ads, Zhi + ads are cheaper. This is especially the case for the next answer ads that cost only about 0.30 to 0.60 RMB (half a penny) per click. 

Tips for Zhihu Marketing

Unlike most methods of marketing in China, Zhihu marketing is something that is surprisingly familiar owing to its method — organic content marketing. In Zhihu, users (marketers included) thrive on the content of their responses to threads. This brings us to the first tip for a successful Zhihu marketing strategy: 

Build Official & Users Accounts

You want an official account for credibility – it gives you a way to use all the tools available on the Zhihu and engage directly with your target audience.

What do you want for several users’ accounts? why rely on another influential account on the platform when you can build your own. This way, you control what is said and how often. Comes in handy when you launch a new product or are facing a PR crisis for instance. It allows you to keep the discussion about your brand alive when users are not organically doing it.

Optimize Content

When we talk about content, we refer to the answer to a certain inquiry. Of course, because of Zhihu’s other features, you may also produce content that appears in places like the Column or Zhihu University. 

SEO aside (which we will get to next), optimizing content involves making it accurate, timely, and readable for the target audience. For this reason, it is key to have a Mandarin-speaking team on the ground for this purpose. 

Optimized content goes a long way in building a following in Zhihu. As you might imagine, the more followers you have, the larger the top of your sales funnel will be. 

Baidu SEO

Baidu is to China what Google is to the rest of the world. Hence, the approach will differ, especially in terms of language. 

Optimized Zhihu responses will be able to have a place in the Baidu SERPs following optimization. As a result, more traffic can come from the search engine to your Zhihu content, gaining you visibility beyond Chinese Quora. 

There are many moving parts to optimizing content for Baidu’s search algorithms. However, the best place to start is to build content around keywords. Once again, a marketing team on the mainland that speaks the language will prove valuable for this very reason. 

Enlist a KOL, Play with Live Streaming

No marketing strategy in China succeeds without the endorsement of a key opinion leader (KOL). KOLs are valuable to a marketing campaign, with thousands of followers on their lists. 

When it comes to Zhihu marketing, the trick is to find a KOL that resonates with the target audience. That is, your KOL must also have the same qualities — young, educated, and preferably a resident of a tier-one city. Obviously, Zhihu Kol does not have a massive following and is more akin to micro-Kol but they have influence in their niche.

Want to get started with Zhihu Marketing?

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We help you build a strong online presence in China with the help of Zhihu – one of the most popular and credible Q&A in the country. Through our services, you can improve your reputation and credibility with Chinese consumers, while also increasing your online visibility. Contact us for more information.

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