Zhihu - the Chinese question and answer platform
When people want to find an answer to their question, they most likely think of Google. This is not surprising, as Google holds around 86% of the global search engine market share (Statista 2021).
Zhihu, the Chinese Q&A website and the Chinese equivalent of Quora. In 2021, there were more than 420 million registered users, 100 million monthly active users (MAU), spending an average of 70 minutes/day on Zhihu (Zhihu 2020 Marketing & Sales Guide; prnewswire.com). When Chinese people are looking for an answer to a specific question, they turn to Zhihu.
The demographics of Zhihu users show that the service is particularly attractive to the B2B industry: 48% are from Tier-1 cities; 98% of users are over 18 years old; 80% have a bachelor’s degree or more 76% earn more than RMB 10,000 per month (source: iResearch, 2017)
In addition to the basic Q&A function, Zhihu also provides a platform for users to write articles, participate in BBS discussions, browse e-magazines, and participate in a live streaming show.
The professional user base on Zhihu helps generate a large volume of industry-specific topics. B2B companies can expect high interaction on knowledge-related topics.
Open a Zhihu account
If you want to post actively on Zhihu, an individual or a company must create an account, or a profile, respectively. Anonymous users are not allowed. This also leads to the fact that by providing specific user information, the credibility of individual responses increases, which in turn positively reflects on the image of Zhihu on the Chinese Internet. Likewise, users must verify themselves by submitting documents to prevent fake profiles.
In order to maintain an official business account on Zhihu, a Chinese business license is mandatory. Foreign companies without such a license still have the option to use Zhihu for their purposes by switching to a personal account. However, it should be noted that generally no advertising in the conventional sense is allowed on Zhihu. In order to avoid the deletion of one’s own account, the informative exchange of each profile should remain in the foreground. Nevertheless, personal accounts are also allowed to contain the name of the company.
Marketing on Zhihu - Content
There are several ways to advertise on Zhihu as a business or with a private account. It is important not to neglect the actual purpose of the platform. Every activity on the platform should have the goal of asking and answering questions or sharing
ideas with the professional audience. If an account stands out by answering more questions and being praised by other discussion participants, brand awareness and customer engagement will increase at the same time.
In addition, blog posts or other comments can be written – similar to LinkedIn, for example. Videos can also be posted on Zhihu. These are of course more elaborate compared to normal questions or answers, but also potentially reach more users. In general, it is important that the answers are either extensive and long, thus conveying broad knowledge, or that the answer sought is short and informative. In contrast to other social networks, a factual writing style is preferable to an entertaining one.
TopBook, a China-based content producer, has a vision to help people build an effective professional life through a smart method.
Last year, TopBook contributed an article with an original video showing how to use Cornell notes to promote self-study efficiency. The branded content shows up in the results page when people search for “Cornell notes.” The branded article with the video has received more than 10 thousand interactions (likes and comments).
Q&A Marketing and Campaign
Probably the best-known way to do marketing on Zhihu is to answer and ask questions. In principle, any user of the platform can search for specific questions. For example, if a person has a question about a problem that your company or product can answer, you can use your expertise to answer the question.
On the other hand, companies can also design targeted topics and questions that potential customers will respond to. These are usually so-called Q&A campaigns, which can help the brand convey the brand story or the introduction of services. The brand can use the opportunity to showcase its expertise and engage with industry experts and general users.
By constantly responding to relevant topics with quality answers, the brand can build a good reputation on the website.
Here are some frequently asked questions about products, services or the brand’s history:
– How does it feel to be a professional XXX?
– How do you rate the XXX product?
– What do you think about the XXX event?
Case - Mercedes Benz Q&A Campaign
German automobile brand Mercedes-Benz is a showcase of how to generate good questions to boost its brand content on Zhihu. Mercedes-Benz raised the question of ‘What great explorations human beings made that has changed the history’? (人类做过的哪些伟大的探索，改变了历史进程) The answer got more than 1 million impression within half a day and accumulated more than one hundred qualified answers.
Similar to other social networks, Zhihu also offers the opportunity to work with qualified influencers, key opinion leaders (KOL). Ideally, industry- or topic-specific influencers are suitable for this, in order to increase the influence of the brand and the desired target group. This allows you to leverage the existing reach of KOLs to draw attention to your account.
Case - Insta360 Social-Campaign
Insta360, a domestic brand serves as 360-degree cameras has recently integrated Zhihu tourism influencers into their digital marketing strategies. The campaign has generated high-qualified brand content and highly increased the awareness of the star product Go2.
Zhihu on Search Engines
The reliability of the answers on Zhihu and the trust in the website is also reflected on search engines. When Chinese users first search for a question on Chinese search engines such as Baidu or Sogou, Zhihu is often displayed first.
Therefore, companies should take advantage of the relevance of Zhihu and post targeted questions and answers on Zhihu. If Internet users have a specific problem that they are looking for online, a company can provide the answer and the appropriate product as a solution on Zhihu.
Zhihu Live Streaming
In separate livestreams, companies have the opportunity to discuss industry-specific topics live with an audience. Of course, the know-how is also in demand here and it is not a classic sales show as found on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao. The integrated live chat makes it much more about an exchange of knowledge than pure entertainment. The livestream can be offered both free of charge and for a fee.
Courses or workshops can also be offered under “Zhihu Live”. Similar to the online learning platform “udemy,” users can buy specific video courses on any topic, e.g., to learn programming.
Example: “为什么要用Python作为数据分析平台” à „Why use Python as a data analysis platform”
In addition, advertising can be placed in a target group-specific manner. In contrast to the Q&A campaign, brands no longer have to draw attention to their company directly, but are actively made aware of it through advertising. In addition to informative content, paid advertising offers a win-win situation for the company and the users of the platform, since in the best-case scenario the latter not only become aware of the company, but can additionally learn more about their questions or interests. More important than the pure advertising, however, is and remains the content of the answers or the relevance of the questions.
Zhihu can be an optimal marketing tool. With an educated user base, Zhihu provides a target audience for companies to reach out to customers with a specific professional interest. Answering and asking questions not only provides increased visibility on the platform, but also brings Internet users to your company’s attention more quickly via search engines. Similar to other platforms, you can place targeted ads or increase your reach in other ways, such as influencer marketing or livestreams.
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