Chinese Content Marketing On Zhihu? You Need To Get “Serious”

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Zhihu, the Chinese version of Quora, is a popular online Q & A and social platform in China. By Sep. 2017, there have been 100 million registered individual accounts on Zhihu. Its daily active users exceeds 26 million, making it a notable marketing channel in the eyes of online marketers’. On Sep. 20th, 2017, Zhihu started to accept  free registration for enterprise account, attracting even more attention from brands.

Actually, Zhihu’s not the first Q&A platform in China. Before it there’re Baidu Zhidao, Soso Wenwen, and Sina iAsk.However they all went straight down with time passing. Zhihu stands out as a “serious” community where people ask and answer questions based on their own experience and insight.

How does it do this? Zhihu’s initial group of users come by invitation not registration. They are social elites like lawyers, independent consultants, IT professional and enterpreurs, wanting to share their specialities with others and gain wisdom in return. They have set a high bar for this platform. Besides, Zhihu gave high authoritity on answers that get most up votes and they don’t order the answers by time series. This also helps encourage people to get serious about answering. In these ways Zhihu has maintain a high trustworthiness among users.

So what makes Zhihu an ideal place for content marketing?

  • Users on Zhihu are promising consumers

Zhihu describes their user base as high income, high consumption, and highly educated. 30% of Zhihu users make more than 10,000 RMB per month. There are 8.4% among all Chinese internet users that can be regarded as users with high consuming power; on Zhihu, there’re 19.73%.  For many brands, Zhihu has their target customers.

  • Free SEO option

This is due to the high domain authority Zhihu has on mainstream search engines like Baidu, Sogou. It has nearly the same authority as federal government’s web. Easily put, whenever a keyword is searched on Baidu, you can always see a Zhihu Q&A (if has) on the first SERP. In this way brand can also get some free ride on SEO/SEM(get SEO wisdome on ).

  • Long-term choice for brand

Weibo and Wechat are good at creating virus message that can generate a craze in a very short time. However, what comes quick vanishes quick. Zhihu’s voting mechanism enables good content to last. Many brands say even today they can get upvote on the posts/answers that were published in year 2011. Long-term branding will work very well on this platform.

  • A new and promising marketing place

Zhihu has just opened the enterprise account registration. And this year Zhihu plans to take more actions to cash in. More support for enterprises can be expected. So this is high time companies were to jump on the train.

However, Zhihu is not for every brand.

Originally Zhihu is filled with social elites with independent thinking. To now, Zhihu has expanded to 103 industries/topic categories, and still the majority of Zhihu users possess a critical thinking. They’re rational, blunt, and thus making direct sales strongly objected. So this platform is not the best choice for every vertical. Below industries are more likely to get success on it:

  • Information and technology

Zhihu’s founder is an IT professional and the seed user group consists IT people, making it a well-known community for geeks. So if IT lies in your business scope or target business realm, you can try to expand your business here.

  • Professional service providers, like HR, market research, law etc.

There’re a lot of start-up enterpreneurs on Zhihu and they’re looking for information on a wide range of business service. If you can pose yourself an expert for a certain realm, they are prone to contact you initiately.

  • Lifestyle

A user research shows that health & fitness gets the most attention among interests: movies, traveling, reading, photography and health & fitness.So the lifestyle and health related industry can consider Zhihu as a market.  Interestingly, reading lists at the least.

  • Brands that already have a certain fame

Zhihu is an ideal platform for brands that have already gained some fame and recognition among public. Audi has run a series of successful marketing activities on Zhihu. Since landing on Zhihu in July, 2016, they have proposed 4 questions and answered 22 questions. Most of the answers got 100 thousand reads. Their first answer is about “Why Audi is called a light factory?”. With mixed professionalism and humor tone, they have not only poised themselves as an expert but also a “fun” brand.

When you do decide to market on Zhihu, there’re several things you need to keep in mind

  1. Target for long term

Zhihu has officially agreed that the serious discussions on their site is more beneficial from a long-term branding perspective. Brands can build up authority and expect long tail effect on this platform, but it’s not a good place to get multiple sales leads in a short term.

  1. Equip with a content team

It can be an in-house team(best to be), or an outsourced agency who understands your brand. Zhihu users love professional content, what they call “gan huo”(“干货”) that they can’t get through other media. So if you want to do marketing on Zhihu, capability to generate useful content is a must.

  1. Add Zhihu to online marketing matrix

Zhihu itself is not enough for a company considering its long-term rewards attribute. SEM is a good way to get online sales leads, which also cooperates with Zhihu well because Zhihu, as a knowledge sharing platform, allows users to put external link.

  1. Enterprise account is not necessary

For SMEs, the best way is to make the CEO of the company a KOL on Zhihu. If the company is not a well-known one, enterprise account doesn’t give much help on the authority and people are more against direct sales from institutes than from individuals.

To sum up, Zhihu above all is a marketing channel worth some effort, but brands need to take  “serious” actions and head for the long term to get fruitful.

Kun has 10 years digital marketing experiences in Europe and China. His expertise includes SEO, Social Media, PPC and mobile marketing. He manages the strategy and business development of Jademond Digital. Pior to Jademond, he played provital roles in search marketing agency in Hong Kong, mobile marketing agencies in China and online video portal in Europe.

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