Engaging student communities on Zhihu

By Posted in - Chinese Social Media & Student Engagement on September 13th, 2018 0 Comments Image of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, China. Overlay text reads, "Engaging with Student Communities on Zhihu."

The Chinese website Zhihu currently has more than 55 million users, accounting for 14.6 per cent of Chinese internet population.

So what is Zhihu and why is it so popular? The Chinese version of Quora, Zhihu allows users to share answers under the questions asked by their peers. Community question-answering (CQA) sites are increasingly popular in China, and Zhihu is the most prominent example.

Statistics show that 80 per cent of Zhihu’s active users are college students or graduates. As such, it offers great potential for higher education institutions.

In fact, Zhihu allows institutions to set up their official accounts and participate in question-answering activities. This means that the site is a valuable channel for marketing activities.

Planning content for Zhihu

A marketing campaign on Zhihu requires something different from other social media platforms. Typical Zhihu users are young, urban, and well-educated. They are not likely to be intimidated by text-heavy content – as long as it is interesting, effectively structured, and worthwhile reading.

Content produced for Zhihu needs to provide in-depth insights into an interesting and specialised topic, and should be structured like a pop-science article (the most common format used on Zhihu).

Pain-free content

The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) offer some good examples of this. When GSK wanted to advertise their ibuprofen sustained-release capsules, they published a pop-science article talking about why we feel pain. They did not reference their product until the end of these articles, but the content was highly convincing in the eye of users and informed them of the product’s core value: namely, releasing people from pain.

The article was read more than 7 million times by 369,000 users. It was liked, reposted and help to generate word-of-mouth marketing, which helped promote the brand – and the product – to a larger audience.

Having an impact

Some universities are already aware of the value of Zhihu, and established their official accounts on the site. However, given the limited resources given over to producing content for the site, very few of them have had an impact amongst Zhihu users.

For more advice on developing an optimized marketing approach on CQA site in China, please don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@picklejarcommunications.com.

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