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Zhihu (知乎) is the largest question and answer (Q&A) platform in China, allowing users to post, answer, share and comment on questions. In contrast to other platforms that focus on quick answers, such as “Baidu Zhidao”, Zhihu offers in-depth explanations and encourages professional discussions among users. By the end of 2020, Zhihu saw an average of 75.7 million average monthly active users, which was a 33% growth compared to the previous year.

The platform is popular among industry experts or professionals in a wide range of different sectors, who share their in-depth insights on specific topics that they are knowledgeable in. Moreover, users can also use the platform to find information on culture, career development, sports, education, politics, technology, movies and shows, lifestyle, etc. Answers to questions are ordered according to quality and popularity, determined through users’ ratings.

On the platform, brands or companies can create ‘Enterprise accounts’, through which they can directly interact with users by answering questions or sharing insights.

To allow users to determine whether an answer to a question is credible, users can update their personal profiles with their background, industry, and working experience. Users who have the credentials and frequently provide high-quality answers can build up a following and a reputation for trustworthiness. In order to prevent the creation of fake profiles, Zhihu has a strict identity authentication process that users must go through to get verified. As a result of these processes, the demographic on Zhihu tends to be more professional. Over 80% of users on the platform have a bachelor’s degree, or above, about 30% make more than 10,000RMB per month, and most users live in higher-tier cities in China.

In addition to its Q&A features, Zhihu offers podcasts, e-books, weekly publications, articles, live streams, lectures, and courses, some of which are exclusive to its paid membership programs. Enterprise accounts or verified users are also able to contribute to this library of knowledge on the platform.

A social component is integrated into Zhihu. Users can send private messages to each other, ask individual users to answer questions, have discussions on different topics, or become followers of specific users and accounts.

Marketing through Zhihu

Before a brand or business decides to market on Zhihu, they must determine whether the platform is right for them. Since Zhihu is a knowledge-sharing platform, it could be suitable for highly technical brands or have a lot of detailed and specific information to share on certain topics.

Thus, Zhihu presents an opportunity for content marketing. By creating authenticated “Enterprise Accounts”, brands can appear more credible when answering questions relevant to their industries or when publishing in-depth articles on their areas of expertise. This allows the brand to establish a professional brand image and directly interact with users or potential customers/clients.

Other features that brands can utilize include publishing articles or holding livestreams to provide further knowledge. However, brands should ensure that they only answer questions or contribute knowledge when directly related to the brand, the brand’s industry, or its area of expertise. The answers provided and articles published should be in-depth, accurate and professional, and can be enhanced by including additional materials such as pictures, graphics, or videos. It should be noted that on the platform, brands should focus on knowledge sharing, as opposed to directly pushing their products or services. Brands could also ask questions that relate to their industry as a method of gaining feedback on its current products or services or potential areas of expansion. All of these methods would have the benefit of tapping into both word-of-mouth and content marketing.

Another marketing method on the platform is working with Key Opinion Leaders, who have already built up a trustworthy reputation and a large following. These users can develop content specifically for the brand or otherwise mention, discuss or evaluate the brand and its products or services, thereby spreading brand awareness to the followers.

As the demographic leans towards more educated and higher-income individuals, brands that users mention on the platform can gain credibility, e.g., when users ask for recommendations on specific products or services, other users or industry experts can provide suggestions by listing specific brands or companies.

Unlike WeChat or Weibo, where content posted is more short-lived, high-quality answers to questions on Zhihu will remain pinned at the top. If a specific brand is mentioned in that pinned answer, this will be effective for long-lasting brand building.

Since Zhihu is highly ranked by many of the major search engines used in China, such as Baidu , Sogou, and, building up a brand presence on the platform will also help with Search Engine Optimization, thus causing the brand to appear more frequently during searches.

Zhihu can be an extremely effective platform for content marketing. However, brands need to be careful in their approach and emphasize ensuring that any content contributed on the platform is of the highest quality or risks damaging the brand reputation.

Images below are screenshots from the Zhihu mobile app:

How Melchers can support you in China

Melchers provides a complete end to end digital-execution service for Western-brands wishing to define a strategy for China through to market implementation. We manage the client relationship in Europe and China, to ensure strategy, planning, and projection is set out at the onset. Local teams based in Shanghai and Beijing oversee campaign implementations. Among our digital marketing services, we design, build and optimise web and mobile presences in China to drive customer acquisition including SEO set-up and optimisation services. Our team engages in design, content creation and management of your website, blog and social media accounts while driving digital marketing campaigns.

To learn more about how we can support you, please contact us at [email protected].

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