The Ultimate Guide to Zhihu Setup and Verification

Sat, 10/03/2020 - 01:57
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If you’re here, then there’s a good chance that you have already heard of Zhihu. If you haven’t, then, long-story-short, Zhihu is China’s top Q&A platform that has grown into a major knowledge hub for professionals in various industries. It’s a place where you can find a comprehensive answer to any question you may have. 

We have talked about Zhihu quite a lot, so if you want to learn more about it, check these first:

And if you prefer a video tour:

Now let’s talk about the basics: how to get you on to Zhihu. In this post, you will find a step-by-step guide to:

  1. Set up a personal account.
  2. Set up a business account.
  3. Identity authentication for an account.
  4. Personal verification of an account.
  5. Business verification of an account.
  6. Advertising on Zhihu
  7. Zhihu experience score system.

 

Setting up a Personal Account on Zhihu

In most cases, a personal account is what you’re looking for. Whether you want to build a follower base on Zhihu, become a brand ambassador for your business, or you’re interested in exploring the platform (possibly for some research), all you have to do is head to the sign-in page.

Here is what it looks like:

Setting up Zhihu account - Step one

You cannot set up an account with an email address, so you’ll need a phone number for this. Good news is that your overseas (non-Chinese) phone number will work just as well. When you have filled it in and received a verification code, you’re good to go.

Another way is to sign up with your existing WeChat, QQ or Taobao account. You will be able to link your phone number and email address to the account later.

Next: set up a username and a password (using only letters and digits).

Setting up a username on Zhihu

And that’s it! You’ll be redirected to your feed. If you want to access the account’s settings, click on the dog icon in the top right corner, and then choose the settings icon.

This will allow you to set or change your password and link an email address or your WeChat accounts, etc.

Changing your account information on Zhihu

 

Setting Up a Business Account on Zhihu

You can also set up an official brand account on Zhihu verified with a business licence. It definitely creates a higher level of credibility, especially for companies that are already recognised in China; giving users the impression that the company takes interest in their customers. Plus, verified business accounts have access to many more features on the platform (check out the Business Verification section below).

One major drawback is that unlike Weibo and WeChat, Zhihu doesn’t allow foreign businesses to set up business accounts for the time being. You’ll need a business registered in mainland China. 

However, if your company doesn’t qualify for a business account, don’t worry. You can build a trustworthy relationship with your existing and potential clients by taking advantage of a personal verification for your ambassador account (more on that later). Plus, there’s a way that allows you to advertise on Zhihu (go to ‘Step Three: Advertising’ section to learn more).

However, note that personal and business accounts are entirely separate so you cannot turn an existing personal account into a business account later on. 

If you’re comfortable with reading Mandarin, then here’s the official Zhihu guide to business account setup. But I will explain it step-by-step in English below.

 

Step One: Email Registration

Start on this page and fill in your email address, a password (only letters and digits), and complete the CAPTCHA code. You can use your organisation’s email or a private one.

Registering hihu business account

 

Step Two: Choosing the Organisation Category

Similar to other Chinese platforms, there are different types of accounts available depending on your business. Whichever category you choose, make sure it is in line with the business scope on your licence. Otherwise, you will not get through the verification process.

Business acount types on Zhihu

The categories are:

  • Business (corporate) organisation - for most businesses, related brands, products and services, such as Google, Audi, or China Merchants Bank Credit Card Customer Service Center.
  • Government and public institutions - for domestic and foreign government agencies, public institutions, and other government-trusted organisations: The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, China Science Expo, National Women's Federation, etc.
  • Other institutions - for various public venues, associations, civil organisations and other institutions and groups: WWF, and Wild China (documentary).

 

Step Three: Submit Business Information

Setting up account's administrator on Zhihu

In this step, you will be asked to submit your organisation’s full name. It should be 3–40 characters (no special characters), do not use unrecognised abbreviations and names of countries such as ‘NMG China’ instead of "Nanjing Marketing Group Ltd.". Some other rules to pay attention to:

  • The account name must not include absolute language or extreme terms, such as "highest", "best", "first", or "national level".
  • The account name must not include advertising features such as slogans. 
  • Do not include anything but the company name, for example, ‘McDonald’s Branch’ or ‘ICBC’s CEO’.
  • Do not include any institution, media agencies or government names if you’re not a certified agency (for example, IELTS/TOEFL, TV, newspaper).

Regular businesses will also need a certificate of incorporation, as well as the registration number on the certificate. Institutions, on the other hand, only need a social security number. 

Last: upload a clear colour scan or photograph of the certificate.

P.S. Your brand/company name is unique, but if the name is already taken and you have a legitimate claim to that name (i.e. trademark registration), the claim should be submitted to i@zhihu.com

 

Step Four: Set up Account’s Admin

Setting up account's administrator on Zhihu

In this step, you will need to decide on a person responsible for the account (you can change it in the account settings later on). You need to submit

  • their name (same as on their ID), 
  • their ID number (for foreign nationals, please use a valid passport),
  • a clear picture of them holding their ID in front of them (the passport must show the page with personal information and a photograph; details must be clear; do not cover any information with your fingers), and
  • a picture or a colour scan of the ID/passport’s personal information page.

 

Step Five: Account Details

Fill in account details - Zhihu

And you’ve reached the final step! Three items left: choosing your industry, account name, and setting up a profile pic. Be careful with the industry, choose it according to the business scope on your certificate, or the main industry for your product/brand/service. This information cannot be changed once it has been accepted by the platform.

Zhihu currently does not accept the following types of organisations: 

  • Precious metal investment/trading, virtual currencies, foreign exchange transactions, Internet finance, trusts, private equity funds, and other related financial services. 
  • Cosmetic surgery, drug rehabilitation, and health products, hair transplant, adult-product sales, and other related medical businesses.
  • Investment, franchise or other profit-related platforms.
  • Emotional consultation/recovery businesses.

The account name should be the full name or an unambiguous abbreviation based on the company’s brand name, product or trademark. Again, you have to settle for 3–40 characters. 

As for the avatar, it should be a high-quality and clear representation of the company's logo/brand. Other things to pay attention to:

  • The minimum size of the avatar is 360px × 360px; supported formats are .png and .jpg, and the file size must not exceed 5mb.
  • The avatar must not contain any form of contact information, and the QR code and URL cannot be used as the main element.
  • Watermarks must not impede the view of the avatar, and nothing related to Zhihu in any way can be included.
  • In addition to the portrait of the founder or a spokesperson, etc., which can represent the image of the organisation, no other personal portraits may be used.
  • The avatar must not break any copyright infringement laws, as well as contain no elements that could be considered ambiguous or be confused with well-known organisations.
  • The picture must not contain elements, such as the national flag or emblem, party flag or emblem—unless it is an account belonging to a government’s entrusted agent.

And now, let’s move on to verification.

 

Zhihu Personal Account Verification

The goal of the actual verification—that gives you the blue badge next to your name—is to let people know you are who you actually say you are, and you’re trusted in the given field. This is Zhihu, not Douyin. Being pretty or entertaining does not bring you credibility or acknowledgement; instead, you need to rely on your documented work experience and certified skills.

A verified personal account on Zhihu

Personal account verification takes two steps. The first one is confirming your identity. 

If you’re a regular user, having a non-verified account won’t affect your access to information and content, so if you’re on Zhihu—just do your research. However, you need to get verified if you want to submit questions, post answers, articles, comments, and anything related to submitting content to the platform. 

 

Step One: Identity Authentication

First, log in to your account and head to the authentication page where you’ll be asked to choose whether you prefer to authenticate your account with your mainland Chinese phone number or your ID. If you’re lucky to have the phone number, then use it to receive a verification code.

Zhihu account authentication - Step 1

Zhihu Account Authentication - Step 2

Another way of verification is with your mainland Chinese ID. If you do not have one, head to ‘Other documentation’ and choose one of the following options:

  • Foreign Passport (护照; that’s the first option on the list).
  • Mainland Travel Permit/Resident Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents.
  • Mainland Travel Permit/Resident Permit for Taiwan Residents.

You’ll need to submit your full name (as shown in the ID; Latin characters only), the ID number, as well as the following photographs:

  1. A clear picture of the page with your name, photo, and the expiration date of the document (take a separate picture if the information is on different pages).
  2. A clear picture of yourself holding your ID in front of you. Do not cover any information with your fingers.

Supported formats are .jpg, .png, .bmp; a single picture must not exceed 5mb. 

Authenticating a Zhihu account with an ID and passports

Some things to be aware of:

  • The real-name authentication information cannot be modified after the application is processed. 
  • The information you submit is only used to verify your identity for real-name authentication.
  • Real-name authentication only authenticates the real identity of the account owner, so the same mobile phone number or information can be used to authenticate different accounts. 
  • After the authentication is completed, the rights, obligations and legal responsibilities corresponding to the account are borne by the person. 

 

Step Two: Confirm Your Credentials

Credentials on Zhihu

Each account can make an application with up to five certificates and can display two of them in the account. 

Here’s where you get started: choose an academic or professional certification or both. Note: bachelor’s degrees and below are not accepted for the time being.

 

Professional Certification

To apply for professional certification, you’ll need to submit:

  • Related industry information. For example, a journalist in a media industry, or a paralegal in the service industry. Note: some industries are not allowed. 
  • Full name of the company or organisation
  • Name of the certification (that will appear in your account): e.g. ‘Paralegal’
  • Certification:
    • Academic degree and vocational qualification certificates cannot be used as valid documents for work certification.
    • Choose one of the following options: work contracts, on-the-job certificates, work cards, business cards, screenshots of publicly available and official personal- information pages or screenshots of news media reports; whichever you choose, it needs to include key information that can support identity authentication, such as name, department, position, and title information.
  • Identity authentication: just as mentioned in the ‘Step One: Identity Authentication’ above, submit your full name, a number of your valid ID, a clear picture of the ID (name page with expiration date).

 

Academic Certification

To apply for academic certification, you’ll need to submit:

  • Academic degree: (four options to choose from) Master’s Degree, PhD degree, a Master's student, or a PhD student.
  • Name of your major subject.
  • Full name of your school (mainland Chinese and foreign both accepted).
  • Name of the certification (that will appear in your account): e.g. ‘PhD in Economics’.
  • Certification: users who have graduated need to provide ‘proof of academic qualifications’; current students need to provide ‘proof of on-going studies’.
    • Accepted mainland Chinese certification includes student ID, certificate of enrollment, degree certificate, graduation certificate, an entry from China Credential Verification System (CHESICC), etc.
    • Accepted overseas certification includes visa, student ID, certificate of enrollment, transcript of records, degree certification, etc.
    • The document needs to include your name, the school’s name, major/department, year and month of admission or graduation, academic background/degree, and other key information related to the identity being used for authentication.
  • Identity authentication: just as mentioned in the ‘Step One: Identity Authentication’ above, submit your full name, a number of your valid ID, a clear picture of the ID (name page with expiration date).

Note that for ‘Name of certification’ you should avoid ambiguity and keep a simple format, for example:

  • Company + position.
  • Product/brand/service + position,
  • Research institution + academic title.
  • Name of school + name of college/department/laboratory or major + title.

Your verification will be reviewed within three working days, and you will be notified of the result in a private message. Remember that one certification can be used to verify only one account; you cannot verify multiple accounts with one certificate. 

 

Step Three: Your Verification is Not Permanent

Some certifications have a validity period, and as soon as it expires, so will your shiny blue badge. A week before that happens, Zhihu Support will send you a reminder to update the document and you can submit this directly to them. 

If anything related to your certification changes, remember to update the information by editing your existing application or creating a new one.

Your verification can also get cancelled if you repeatedly violate the policies of the Zhihu community and if the documentation you used is discovered to be forged or exaggerated. 

Check related FAQs directly on Zhihu (in Chinese).

 

Zhihu Business Account Verification

Usually, when we talk about account verification on Chinese platforms, we bring up one main argument: this will make your account look legitimate and help you gain user trust. And, if you’re an established brand, you want to make sure that copycat accounts are not mistaken for yours.

However, that’s not the only benefit of having the verification badge on Zhihu. Verified business accounts enjoy additional rights, such as

  • name protection (no other account can share the same name as yours), 
  • data analysis, 
  • advertising,
  • priority on the search result page,
  • increased number of articles and answers that can be published weekly, and 
  • many more.

A verified business account on Zhi

Step One: Application

To apply for business account verification, you do not need identity authentication. Once you’ve logged into your business account, simply go to the link here. For native Chinese speakers, here’s the official Zhihu guide to business account verification. If you’re not, no worries, I got you covered. Keep reading!

This all sounds like extra work but do not fear! You submitted all the information during the account setup phase, remember? Great! So, while verifying your business account, there's no need to do it all over again. But this is your chance to update some information if you need to. 

In step one of the application process, you can submit an updated business licence or an incorporation number if it’s changed. You can’t edit the name of the company within the form, so if any change occurred, email Zhihu directly at org@zhihu.com

In step two, you can update the account admin’s information, including their name, ID number, passport picture, etc.

In step three, you can change the industry, account name, and the avatar.

 

Step Two: Payment

Similar to WeChat, the business account verification on Zhihu is charged yearly. The verification fee is 300 CNY/year. The only available payment option, for now, is WeChat Pay.

Paying for business verification on Zhihu

Remember:

  • If you fail the verification process three times due to providing incorrect/insufficient documents, you will need to pay the 300 CNY again.
  • The verification is renewed yearly, and the renewal process must be completed within 45 days before the verification’s expiration date (the system will notify you).
  • The 365 days are calculated on the day your verification is processed and confirmed.
  • You can apply for an invoice (fapiao) within your account’s Management Centre (管理中心-资产管理-发票管理)

 

Advertising on Zhihu

Zhihu used to offer different levels of business accounts at various prices. However, they have changed it recently and now follow a similar model to other platforms (original service file from Zhihu here - in Chinese).

Once you have a verified business account, you will be able to apply for 知+ (Zhi Plus). (If you have a personal account, jump to the next section.)

This type of advertising account gives you access to a broad variety of marketing tools, such as

  • promotion of posts, 
  • regular advertising campaigns on Zhihu,
  • increased interactions with your questions and answers,
  • customised CTAs that can be added at the end of your articles,
  • customised ads placed in other user’s article,
  • creation of mini-programs that drive conversions,
  • advanced data analytics, 
  • CRM system, and
  • many more.
Ad placement on Zhihu
Image: Ad placement - your promoted content can be inserted into other users’ content. They have to agree to that, and your ad will be preceded by a short intro text.

The application can be submitted directly on the platform (just make sure you link your email address to the account first); however, to charge your account, you will need to contact an official representative of Zhihu (more information in Chinese here) or us. 

The initial transfer for your newly opened account must be 5,000-10,000 CNY which will be all used as ad credit (you can choose how to distribute the budget). Cost-Per-Click starts at 0.2 CNY and the minimum daily budget is 500 CNY. 

 

Advertising for personal accounts

Personal accounts are not eligible to apply for Zhi Plus accounts. However, this doesn’t mean you have no way of advertising your content without a business account 

We have ten years of experience of navigating these types of problems in China, and here’s the solution we suggest for personal accounts.

Find a business account that will promote your content, for example, an agency like us. Once you're with NMG, we can advertise your posts using our business Zhi Plus account. And users won’t know who promotes the posts. They won’t even know it is promoted content; to them, it looks like another post. It’s as simple as that.

This option has its limitations: you cannot launch banner ads or promote your content via ad placement for the time being.

 

Zhihu Experience Score

And one last thing you should be aware of: Zhihu has its own system of scoring user’s behaviour. The ‘Salt Value’ (盐值; a homonym of 颜值 which means ‘attractiveness index’) is an intelligent system that recognises and weighs your actions—giving you points accordingly. 

 

Personal Accounts

The number of your points (1-1,000) is displayed next to your avatar, and can also be viewed in your account settings. In the beginning, you will get 260-300 points for just setting up your account. 

The higher the score, the more knowledgeable, friendly and reliable the user. Your actions are measured and scored by the following dimensions:

  • Basic Credit (completed account information, data analysis, etc.).
  • Content Creation.
  • Friendliness and Interaction.
  • Compliance with Standards.
  • Community Building.

Personal credit score on Zhihu

Business Accounts

There are seven levels of business-account experience scores (V1–V7). A new account will always begin on the 3rd band (V3); however, any violations may mean a lower category for your account.

A business account credit score on Zhihu

For businesses, obtaining higher levels means gaining access to more features, such as live streaming and the ability to publish more posts, articles, and columns. You can view your current score, as well as available features in the management centre of your account. 

So, how do you gain the experience points?

  • High quality of content - the more likes and ‘thanks’ your content receives, and the fewer negative feedback reports, the better for your score.
  • Positive influence - which is judged by how many followers you have.
  • Creativity - outstanding accounts publish at least two answers per week and keep a steady stream of new and creative content.
  • Activity - assessed on your account activity. This is not only the amount of published content but also your interaction rate with other posts and accounts, as well as the number of invitations you receive to answer questions.
  • Reputation - the platform requires you to keep a ‘clean record’ and do not violate their policies.
  • Task completion - when you publish your first three answers or articles, you will be rewarded with 150 points.

 

And… that’s it! I hope this guide helped you get through the process! However, if it seems like too much hassle, remember that our agency can handle advertising and setup for Zhihu and other Chinese platforms as part of our B2B marketing solution. All you need to do is drop us a line!

 

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