Zhihu Marketing Strategy for Fashion & Luxury Brands in China

Zhihu is a popular Chinese Q&A platform that is used more and more by brands for marketing. It may not seems like an obvious platform choice for fashion and luxury brands, especially if compared to Chinese social media but they can actually grandly benefit from it, and this is what we will be talking about today.

Zhihu offers opportunities to target affluent users, build brand awareness, and create loyalty among consumers. Brands that use Zhihu effectively can benefit from increased traffic to their websites and stores, as well as higher consumer engagement. In this post, we will explore how fashion and luxury brands can use Zhihu marketing to reach Chinese consumers.

What is Zhihu?

Where do you look for answers when you have a question? The majority of people consult their friends or conduct a Google search. Millions of Chinese people, on the other hand, turn to Zhihu. Zhihu is a Chinese word that means “Do you know?” ” in classical Chinese, is a comprehensive Chinese Q&A website where its community of users publish, answer, like, and share questions.

Zhihu, which was founded in 2011, distinguishes itself from its competitors by offering high-quality questions and reliable responses. It has 200 million registered users as of 2018, and it has over 120 million answers on the platform, making it China’s largest knowledge-sharing community. It is undoubtedly an essential source for Chinese netizens to get expert knowledge and insights into numerous themes, with the tagline “Discover a greater world.”

Here’s Zhihu’s user base: 

  • 56% are male 
  • 48% are from first-tier cities
  • 98% are over the age of 18 years old
  • 80% hold bachelor’s degrees or above
  • 76% earn more than 10,000 RMB a month
  • The average user spends 70 minutes a day on Zhihu

The thing is, Zhihu members are professional, educated, affluent, and committed to the platform – all of which are appealing characteristics for advertisers. 

Why Use Zhihu in Your Marketing Efforts?

For a variety of reasons, Zhihu attracts businesses from all over the world. One is the group’s vast expertise and information sharing. This has an indirect impact on users’ purchasing decisions and consumer behavior. Brands would be prudent to target Zhihu’s distinct audience: people with more disposable cash. Those looking for helpful and trustworthy information, in particular.

Brands can engage with the community and generate conversation by creating an official account on Zhihu. To maximize your Q&A subjects, you must first establish trust. This aids brands in gaining traction and increases the potential to become viral through platform-wide word-of-mouth promotion.

Zhihu is a powerful internet marketing tool. This can help you enhance your SEO and promote your business for a longer period. Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, bestows a high domain authority on Zhihu (DA). This indicates that at least one Zhihu page will show up on Baidu’s search results page (SERP). Using Baidu’s SERP to boost the exposure of your content and raise brand awareness can help you grow your business. Furthermore, while answering queries or producing articles, Zhihu allows you to link to various websites, expanding your brand’s reach.

Main Types of Accounts in Zhihu

  • Personal Zhihu Users account

These accounts are a cost-effective and simple solution for small and medium-sized firms that have not yet established themselves in China. Regardless matter whether you are in or out of China, you can create a personal account for private use. The biggest disadvantage is that if your account gets too commercial, it may be removed. As a result, content development requires careful management and appropriate adjustments. In your Zhihu Marketing Strategy, this form of account should be used.

  • Zhihu Brands/Organization account

These accounts contain all of the features you’d expect from an advertisement, but it’s worth noting that they’re only available to companies with Chinese business licenses. Organization accounts can be divided into four categories: businesses, media, government, and others.

A brand account includes all of Zhihu’s commercial capabilities, as well as increased visibility and account certification, which protects you against copycats and boosts your credibility on the Q&A platform. For your Zhihu marketing campaign, you’ll need an organization account.

Even though a brand account has more marketing features, we recommend using a personal account to create a succession of user profiles. Make these profiles relevant, and use them to spark discussion about your products and services. This is referred to as clandestine marketing, and it is effective, especially in a society where customers trust their peers far more than official brand and company communications.

How To Register a Zhihu Business Account

You need to register a Zhihu business account if you wish to promote on the platform. These are verified and reputable user accounts for official brands.

Businesses that are registered in Mainland China can only open business accounts.

Step 1: Email Registration

Fill in your email address, choose a password, and solve the CAPTCHA code on the Zhihu sign-up page. Then select “Register”/”Registration Agency Number” from the drop-down menu.

Step 2: Choose Your Business Category

After that, you’ll be prompted to confirm your business category. You can select from the following options:

  • Business organization: for most businesses  
  • Government and public institutions: such as government agencies 
  • Other institutions: for charities and nonprofits

Step 3: Provide Business Information

You’ll need to enter your company’s entire name at this stage. Photocopies of your certificate of incorporation will also be required.

Step 4: Provide Administrator Information

The next step is to appoint an account administrator. To do so, you’ll need to supply the following information:

  • Their full name
  • Their ID number (or a valid passport number)
  • A picture of them holding their photo ID
  • A photocopy of the photo ID

Step 5: Provide Account Details

To get started, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Choose your industry from the drop-down menu
  • Confirm your account name (which should be your brand name)
  • Submit an account avatar (which should be your brand logo)

Step 6: Verify Your Account

You must verify a Zhihu business account to gain access to its features, which include a confirmed tick.

Log into your business account and click here to do so. Then all you have to do is double-check the information you entered before. Easy!

You’ll be required to pay a verification charge of 300 CNY per year, which is roughly 47 USD after you’ve confirmed your information.

Zhihu Features and Tools

1. Personal Profile 

Users can create their profiles, which helps Zhihu maintain a more professional and respectable image than its competitors. Readers can judge whether or not the responses they are receiving care from a reliable source by providing basic information such as location, schooling background, industry scope, and job experience.

  • Spotting fake profiles

Zhihu implemented a highly rigorous identity authentication mechanism for its users to avoid impersonation and assure authentic information exchange. Users must submit required documents for verification as part of this process, which eliminates the formation of fraudulent profiles. Users can be rewarded with titles and badges in the “Recognition and Achievement” area of their profile by contributing this information. “Excellent Answerer,” “Recommended By Editor,” and “Popular Provider” are just a few of the titles available.

  • Badges

“Badges” are a relatively recent recognition method implemented by Zhihu, to increase user interaction. “Active user” badges are awarded to people who go online every day, while “Sociable Person” badges are provided to persons who have followed a big number of people. It awards an orange badge to those who have contributed informational content in their fields of expertise.

2. Salt Value

Zhihu credit, often known as “Salt value,” is another fascinating social element launched by Zhihu. It is a user credit system designed to promote good conduct.

According to Dayun Sun, Zhihu’s community management director, Zhihu Credit is a basic feature for all users with the goal of “helping our members live, grow, and build their impact with their professional skills and insight.” The system is made up of five categories of evaluations, each analyzing a distinct component of Zhihu user behavior. Users are given a score between 0 and 1000, which is generated using different algorithms and usage statistics in each of the five characteristics.

  1. Credibility
  2. Content Creation
  3. Friendliness
  4. Community Behavior
  5. Community-Building

According to users’ credit scores, Zhihu has opened up four new facilities for users with a high salt score: “The Green Channel,” “Public Editing,” “Weighted Opposition,” and “Expedited Service.” Users in the “Green Channel,” those with a score of 600 or higher, can have their content audited with a higher priority; content and adverts reported as spam will be evaluated faster if they have a score of 700 or higher. They will receive speedier customer service if they reach 750 points.

3. Zhihu Membership

“The Reading Club Membership” and “The Salt-Elected Membership” are two types of paid memberships offered by Zhihu. “The Reading Club Membership” is better for individuals who want to focus on learning because it just gives you access to Zhihu’s online books, live streams, and webinars, but “The Salt-Elected Membership” has additional social perks.

4. Functions and Interfaces 

The website of Zhihu has a simple interface that comprises “The Main Page,” “Discover,” and “Topic.”

The “Recommended,” “Following,” and “Trending List” sections on the main page are as follows:

  • “Recommended” creates a tailored page (questions and answers) depending on popularity, users’ browsing history, search history, and other factors.
  • “Following” shows the feeds from the accounts you’ve chosen to follow. If you haven’t followed any accounts yet, the system will suggest ones based on your interests and browsing behavior.
  • The “Trending List” displays the 50 most popular topics on the platform in chronological order, ensuring that users have access to the most up-to-date information at all times.

“Discover” encompasses all of the platform’s most popular features:

  • “Recommended by Editor” – Zhihu’s editors have chosen the most popular Q&A queries.
  • “Hot discussions of the day” and “Hot discussions of the month” – are popular topics discussed over some time.
  • “Hot Round Tables,” “Hot Topics,” and “Hot Collections” – these features make it easier for users to find popular material on the network.

“Topic” shows popular discussions for the topics you’re interested in. For example, I follow “Lifestyle” and “Food Safety,” so I can discover talks about these topics on the topic page.

Long paragraphs and “XiangFa,” quick communications akin to Twitter’s Tweets, are also available. The user’s homepage displays all of the published content.

5. Zhihu University

Online courses, audiobooks, and training camps are just a few of the paid knowledge offerings offered by Zhihu University. General information, professional knowledge, and issues linked to people’s interests and hobbies are all covered. The platform, which has over 5,000 content creators, offers over 15,000 paid knowledge goods to over 6 million paid consumers.

6. Zhihu Roundtable

Traditional panel discussions can now be held online, similar to a webinar, thanks to Zhihu Roundtable events. In each roundtable session, Zhihu invites one host and four guests who are experts in their fields to share their knowledge with the audience. Audiences can ask specific questions of certain presenters or remark on their responses, similar to conventional offline panel discussions.

7. Zhihu Paid-Consultancy Services

Professionals can supplement their income by delivering compensated information in exchange for advisory services on the site. A comparable option has been introduced on several platforms, including Weibo’s paid health consultation. The Zhihu paid consultancy services, on the other hand, are quite popular because they cover a wide range of themes.

8. Zhihu Column

Aside from Q&A questions, Zhihu encourages its users to produce extensive articles to share more detailed information. Zhihu introduced Zhihu Column to make it more organized for people who want to create in-depth information about a specific topic regularly. 

Zhihu Paid Advertising

Zhihu is ideal for using native content to promote your company organically. Paid ads, on the other hand, can be a better alternative if you want to gain traction quickly.

There are two sorts of ads available on Zhihu:

1. Newsfeed ads

These advertisements show in a user’s Zhihu personal feed. You can select from the following options:

  • Open-screen ads
  • Pop-up ads on the main page 
  • Banner ads on the main page 
  • Trending topics text/card ads
  • Banner/video ads 
  • Ads on a specific question/answer 
  • Search results ads (for a specific keyword)
  • Trending ads (appear in the trending searches tab)

Users can be targeted for these adverts based on their gender, age, location, occupation, interests, on-site behavior, and other factors.

2. Zhi+ ads

Zhi+ is an advertising service that allows you to promote your Zhihu replies (or ads) to a targeted audience on Zhihu who is interested in certain topics.

You can do so with:

  • Next answer ads: These appear automatically as the second answer to a related question when you have a promoted answer.
  • Content divider ads: These are ads that are inserted into other accounts’ content or your content and have a call to action. 

In addition to promoting answers, you can also insert ads into content dividers and promote them as an answer.

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