Zhihu: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

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GAB Team

What Is Zhihu?

Zhihu (知乎) translates to “do you know?” Launched in January 2011, it is now China’s leading ‘question and answer’ website. Zhihu is a platform that allows users to ask questions and get useful and trustworthy answers from the community. People from all industries and professions turn to the platform for information on a wide range of topics.

Founded by Yuan Zhou, a former journalist, Zhihu was initially an invite-only online platform. It quickly gained traction and cultivated a large following of users actively providing quality

User Statistics

Zhihu is an extremely popular platform among Chinese netizens. Specifically:

  • In 2020, they registered more than 420 million users.
  • As of 2021, it is reported they have 101.2 million monthly active users.
  • According to a 2017 report, 74% hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, with 1.6% having a doctoral degree. And 61.5% of users are between 25-35 years old.
  • A study found that 30% of users earn more than 10,000RMB monthly.
  • Users spend an average 70 minutes each day on the platform. Also, 48% are from first-tier cities.

The data indicates that Zhihu users are an educated and affluent demographic. Capturing the attention of this demographic is a very attractive prospect for marketers.

Furthermore:

  • 56% of Zhihu users are male, which is rare for a Chinese social media platform. However, the number of female users continues to grow.
  • According to official data, Zhihu’s users have contributed to more than 560,000 topics, asked 45 million questions, and given 200 million answers.
  • Zhihu claims that more than 70% of its users are there to seek professional knowledge.

Who Uses Zhihu?

In light of the data, Zhihu users are known to be critical thinkers. Users willing to invest time in answering questions and reading lengthy posts that are of interest. Due to Zhihu’s distinct demographic, marketers must operate correctly when promoting a product or service. In contrast to other Chinese social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, etc.

Key Features

Zhihu stands among other popular Chinese social media platforms, including competing Q&A websites. Such as Baidu, Zhidao, etc. This is due to the intimate and communal relationship users share with each other. The core features encourage extensive dialogue and builds trust between users.

Fundamental principles that users must respect and abide by are:

  • No posting spam links.
  • The quality of answers is more important than quantity.

Zhihu takes the core value of education very seriously. In fact, they demonstrate this through the high number of paid services that Zhihu University offers its users.

The following features are noteworthy and make Zhihu stand out.

Zhihu Column

Users share their knowledge and publish in-depth articles on their chosen topic. They are not required to answer a question.

Zhihu Bookstore

A large database of Q&A content collected and compiled. Q&A content published on Zhihu. And Zhihu Weekly Magazine publishes the best questions and answers in a series of thematic publications.

Zhihu Roundtable

Users that specialize in a certain topic gather to discuss the subject or answer topic-related questions in detail. These online webinars mirror traditional offline panel talks. Especially with the audience responding and commenting on the answers they received.

Zhihu Live

This feature takes advantage of a recent social media trend that has spread across China and the West. Users stream live videos of themselves through the mobile app. And it provides users the perfect opportunity to share knowledge and directly interact with viewers. By paying a small fee, users can join and participate in a one-hour live-streamed lecture.

 

The main interface of Zhihu’s website and application is simple, clear, and intuitive. The page is divided into three categories: Home, Discover, Topic.

First, the Homepage interface includes the Recommended, Following, and Trending pages.

  • The Recommended page uses an algorithm to recommend a custom and personalized page of question and answers. These are tailored to the users’ browse and search history.
  • The Following page displays your feed of posts from users that you follow.
  • The Trending List updates daily with the top 50 most popular discussions taking place on the platform.

Second, the Discover interface features popular content, ranging from ‘hot discussions of the day’ to ‘hot round tables’.

Third, the Topic interface displays popular discussions based on the topics you follow.

Comparison With Quora

Zhihu is the Chinese equivalent of Quora, the American Q&A website. Both websites are very similar in what they provide to the user. However, there are notable differences between the two apps. First, Quora is known and used worldwide. Whereas, Zhihu is only accessible in China. And is far more regulated on what topics users can and cannot post about. Finally, Zhihu is more versatile compared to Quora, offering a comprehensive Q&A platform as well as other interactive features.

Zhihu’s Financials

Marketers find Zhihu an attractive platform to take advantage of, given its annual increase in consumer and revenue growth.

According to official data, Zhihu reached 101.2 million users in the third quarter of 2021. This is a growth of 40.1% from their previous year. Moreover, average monthly paying members reached 5.5 million users in the third quarter of 2021. This is compelling growth of 109.9% over the previous year.

In the third quarter of 2021, Zhihu generated a total revenue of RMB823.5 million (US $127.8 million). This represents a growth of 115.1% from the previous year. Finally, gross profit reached RMB424.8 million (US $65.9 million) in the third quarter of 2021. This is an increase of 93% from 2020.

From these figures, it is evident that Zhihu continues to sustain and improve their consumer and financial growth.

Which Type of Brand Could Benefit From Zhihu?

Research suggests that Zhihu caters to a precise community and demographic of people within China. And so the platform may not fulfill the requirements of every brand.

Companies that specialize in corporate businesses use Zhihu. Such as market research and development. Or specific industry-related services. As in, IT, education, finance companies, law firms, etc. Complex industries or those that require rigorous knowledge makes individuals curious. Then they are likely to ask questions or initiate discussions with like-minded users. However, there are strong communities of passionate users that actively engage in topics that range from sports to art and cinema.

As a result, you can view Zhihu as a valuable resource to interact with users. And gain further knowledge of your target market.

Why Is Zhihu A Must For Brand Marketing In China?

Zhihu attracts companies from all over the world for many reasons. One is the extensive knowledge and information shared by the group. This has an indirect influence on users’ consumer behavior and buying decisions. It is wise for brands to target Zhihu’s unique audience: those with a higher disposable income. Especially those searching for useful and reliable information.

Indeed, by creating an official account on Zhihu, brands engage with the community and generate interaction. Building trust is an important step in maximizing your Q&A topics. This helps brands gain traction with the potential to go viral through word-of-mouth promotion across the platform.

How Zhihu Can Improve Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Zhihu is an effective digital marketing channel. This can improve your Search Engine Optimization and provide long-term promotion of your brand. Baidu is China’s most popular search engine and gives Zhihu a high domain authority (DA). This means that at least one Zhihu page will appear on Baidu’s search engine results page (SERP). You can increase your brand’s popularity by using Baidu’s SERP to increase your content’s visibility and raise brand awareness. In addition, Zhihu allows you to link external websites while answering questions or writing articles, thus increasing brand reach.

Brand Building Tips With Zhihu

Using Zhihu helps brands boost their reputation and build trust with users. This is achieved through several strategies. Including:

  • Contact Zhihu content creators to generate interest in posting about your brand.
  • Create several undercover profiles on Zhihu and post discussions about your brand.
  • Interact with Zhihu users that are asking questions about your brand.
  • Use the platform to provide readers with insight and knowledge about your brand and industry by posting Q&A campaigns. Consider asking users for feedback on your latest product or service.
  • Search for questions concerning your brand or industry and answer them with valuable insight.
  • Users are looking to get knowledge. Therefore, partner with Zhihu University and provide educational content related to your industry. Do this through regular live streams and routine magazines.
  • Post content with specific keywords to maximize brand awareness on Baidu’s SERP.

When you interact in a professional, positive manner, this is the perfect tool to boost your credibility and reputation in China. Moreover, brands can foster stronger relationships and build a loyal customer base. Also, you will have a better understanding of what matters to your buyers.

Purchasing Journeys On Zhihu

Many Chinese shoppers trust Zhihu to ask questions and get reliable answers about brands, products, and services. Expressing curiosity about a brand is a critical stage within the shopper’s buying journey. Therefore, brands can either make or break a buying decision depending on information that the consumer discovers. Consequently, it’s vital for brands to capture this curiosity to ensure that the shopper clicks on their link.

Business to Business (B2B) Marketing On Zhihu

Zhihu is the perfect platform for B2B brands. Since users use Zhihu to search for specific information on a product, service or topic, it is helpful for brands that require explanation. This is particularly true for industries where users are looking for valuable expertise.

Setting Up a Business Account on Zhihu

Building a professional profile is an essential step to getting your brand noticed. Companies outside of mainland China can register for an individual Zhihu account that is used to represent your business. However, ideally you want to open a Zhihu business account instead. Since Zhihu verifies these accounts they are trusted by users. Only companies that are registered in mainland China can open a business account. But you need not to worry! If you are interested in advertising on Zhihu, then head over to our Contact Page. You will get a consultation at no charge with a Gab China expert. And from there, we will do all the work.

Advertising On Zhihu

In combination with providing valuable content to users, leveraging paid ads are an effective way to increase brand awareness. This drives users to your product or service. Advantages to promoting your brand via ads include:

  • Elicits more immediate reactions.
  • Is less time-consuming compared to conducting Q&A campaigns.
  • Reaches wider audiences.

Note: To advertise on Zhihu, you must open an advertising account that is separate from your business account. This process is easy when your business is registered in mainland China. If not, we can assist you with registration too. For more details and assistance with this, do not hesitate to contact us.

Types Of Advertising

There are three types of ads on Zhihu: Pop-up, newsfeed, and display.

Pop-up Ads

These feature on your display. This makes it impactful since the user sees it upon opening the app. Pop-ups are enhanced by including an interactive function. Such as a button that redirects the user to a dedicated page. Overall, this is one of the most effective and popular forms of advertising on Zhihu.

Newsfeed Ads

These integrate into the page’s feed. They are more detailed compared to pop-ups. You can customize the call to action (CTA) to include more text and pictures. This enables brands to use creativity to invite viewers to purchase their product or service. For example, ads can drive users to an app store, mini-program, or ecommerce (such as Tmall, JD.com) page.

Display Ads

Appearing on Zhihu’s internal search pages and homepages, users are likely to see these ads when visiting related pages. These ads may appear in the form of a banner, video, or search result.

Promoting Your Brand With Zhi+

Zhi+ is a supplemental feature that can boost your Zhihu answers and ads to a target audience looking at specific content. This can increase exposure and drive more users to your website. Zhi+ ads appear in multiple ways:

  • Next Answer Ads – Promoting your answer and showing it to a user as the second answer to a related question.
  • Content Divider Ads – Inserting your ad in your content, or content from another user, for example in the comment section.

Note: Advertising via Zhi+ will require a separate Zhi+ advertising account.

Zhi+’s advantage is it places ads in front of users who are interested in topics related to your brand. Your brand may be of use or interest to the user. Then they can find out more by clicking on your CTA.

Collaborating With Key Opinion Leaders (KOL)

Unlike on other major platforms, Zhihu’s KOLs are typically academic or professional experts in a variety of fields. This isn’t surprising given Zhihu’s highly-educated user base. Brands can launch campaigns with KOLs and leverage their reputation in the community to increase brand awareness. The KOL can passively introduce the brand’s product or service into the discussion. It is important for brands to choose the right KOL to work with. Although ideally your KOL is someone familiar with the industry that can provide credibility to your product or service.

Now you have learned a great deal about Zhihu and its unique value to brands and marketers. And thus you can consider using Zhihu as a tool to increase your brand reach and awareness. At Gab China, we offer services that will kick-start your brand’s success in China. If you are interested in marketing your brand on Zhihu, sign up for a consult with us now.

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