Why we need to pay attention to Zhihu

By Posted in - Chinese Social Media & Social Media on January 12th, 2017 0 Comments

Zhihu is an emerging question-and-answer website where Chinese users ask and answer questions. The design of Zhihu is very similar to its Western counterpart, Quora. The website appeared in early 2011 and has attracted more than 17 million users with 1.2 million newly asked questions and 250 million page views per month. It has become the most popular site of its kind in China.

Figure 1. Zhihu Homepage

Figure 1. Zhihu Homepage

In its early days, most of Zhihu’s users were programmers and techies. However, the Zhihu community has become increasingly more diverse. In recent years, it has been drawing considerable attention from students, either from secondary schools or universities.

In particular, many students use Zhihu as a way to enquire about issues of studying abroad. Topics, such as ‘studying in the US’ and ‘studying in the UK’ are particularly popular with these students. Typical questions on these themes include ‘How to apply for Harvard University’ (125 answers and 1,658 followers), ‘What British universities require from masters applicants’ (35 answers and 2,295 followers), and ‘What are the main characteristics of Ivy League universities’ (16 answers and 1,214 followers). Many questions of this kind receive high-quality answers, and are followed by thousands of users.

Figure 2. Answers to ‘How to apply for Harvard University’  

Figure 2. Answers to ‘How to apply for Harvard University’

For Chinese students, the answers offer them a glimpse of international students’ life experiences at overseas universities. When a student wants to study abroad, a university which gives him or her a good first impression through the Q&As could jump up their list when it comes to making a decision on where to go.

As a result, Zhihu could be a worthwhile platform to complement a university’s digital branding campaign in China. Marketing teams from overseas universities would be wise to monitor the questions circulated on Zhihu, paying particular attention to those relevant to their institutions. They may wish to chip in with some informative answers to address those queries and, at the same time, raise the profile of their university.

Managing such campaigns on Zhihu, however, does still require a good understanding of Chinese culture and Chinese young people. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about managing your institution’s digital campaign in China.

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