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Zhihu vs WeChat vs Baijiahao; which organic content platform is best for promoting your business in China?

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In the realm of digital marketing in China, it's crucial to understand that different platforms operate within their distinct ecosystems, often termed 'walled gardens'. This means they typically don't integrate or share content with each other in the same way Western platforms might. For instance, unlike a Google search leading to Reddit posts, Chinese platforms like WeChat/Wecom, Baijiahao, and others often function independently.

Given this landscape, it's advisable for marketers to adopt a diversified approach, using multiple platforms to reach varied audiences. A strategic content plan can involve crafting a comprehensive article for a platform like WeChat, favouring long-form content, and then adapting this content to suit the formats and preferences of other platforms. This approach allows for efficient use of a single piece of content across different mediums, reducing the need to create new content for each platform. This strategy saves time and resources and ensures a consistent brand message across various digital touchpoints in China.

Table of Contents

Zhihu

Audience and Content: 

Zhihu, a Q&A platform, is frequented by a well-educated audience, including many white-collar professionals seeking in-depth knowledge and analysis in various industries. The user base is characterised by mature users aged 18 to 40 years. This platform is ideal for creating long-form, educational content that builds authority and credibility in your industry.

Engagement Style: 

Engagement on Zhihu is driven by knowledge sharing and demonstrating expertise. Brands can benefit from participating in dialogues, answering questions related to their industry, and creating content that resonates with the platform's educated and inquisitive user base. The emphasis is on providing high-quality, informative content rather than overt promotion.

Purpose and Strategy: 

Zhihu is particularly effective for B2B marketing due to its audience's interest in research, solutions to problems, and in-depth discussions on specific topics. Brands can use Zhihu to create long-term trust and relationships with the audience through expertise and reliability. It's not just about promoting products but about engaging with the community through knowledge and content. Additionally, Zhihu's high domain authority on search engines like Baidu enhances the visibility of the content posted on it, which is far more effective than doing SEO on your own Chinese website.

WeChat:

Audience and Content: 

WeChat, with over a billion monthly active users, is more versatile and caters to a broader audience. It started as a messaging app but has evolved into a multifaceted platform incorporating social media, e-commerce, and payment services. The content on WeChat can range from direct marketing and sales to more personal and interactive posts.

Engagement Style: 

WeChat's engagement style is centred around direct interaction, customer service, and personal engagement. Brands can use features like WeChat Pay, official accounts, and mini-programs to engage users in various ways, from direct messaging to e-commerce.

Purpose and Strategy: 

WeChat is ideal for customer engagement, marketing, and sales. Its diverse features allow for a wide range of marketing activities, including targeted advertising, e-commerce, and customer relationship management. Brands can use WeChat to promote their products, provide customer service, and engage in direct communication with their audience.

BaiJiaHao

Audience and Content: 

Baijiahao, as part of Baidu's ecosystem, reaches a diverse and substantial audience, primarily driven by Baidu’s search traffic. The platform caters to various interests, ranging from video games to news and electronics, making it suitable for a wide range of topics. Content creators on Baijiahao are encouraged to produce high-quality, original content. The platform's vast reach and diversity make it an ideal choice for businesses looking to engage with a broad audience base in China​​​​.

Engagement Style: 

Engagement on Baijiahao is heavily influenced by Baidu’s search algorithm, with a focus on content quality and relevance. The platform provides features like content and follower management, and it emphasizes interaction through its various tools. Engagement here is less about social interaction and more about content discovery and consumption, with the platform acting as a bridge between creators and their audience through Baidu's search and content recommendation systems​​​​.

Purpose and Strategy: 

Baijiahao's purpose and strategy, in contrast to Zhihu, centers around leveraging its integration with Baidu's search engine for enhanced visibility and SEO benefits. While Zhihu focuses on in-depth knowledge exchange within a community, Baijiahao allows for diverse content formats like text, videos, and live streams, reaching a broader audience through Baidu's search ecosystem. Businesses use Baijiahao for subtle, informative content that indirectly promotes their brand, benefiting from Baidu's traffic. This contrasts with Zhihu's emphasis on expert-driven content and deep community engagement. Baijiahao's flexibility in content and its potential to tap into a wider audience through search engine optimization make it a strategic platform for businesses aiming to establish a strong digital presence in China​​​​​​​​.

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Laurent Ross

About the Author

11+ years of work in client and project management in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand - Laurent is uniquely qualified to manage campaigns which require a deep knowledge of both Western and Chinese digital systems.

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