- China’s answer to Quora launched its first-ever “515 Career Festival” in a bid to win over the young generation of professionals.
- A range of workplace-related topics which new professionals are concerned by were under the spotlight through a documentary and provoked discussions.
- The initiative closely followed the “2023 Zhihu Discovery Conference”, where its ambition to shift its focus on to Gen Z and millennial professionals was revealed.
Zhihu, China’s equivalent to Quora, launched its first-ever “515 Career Festival” in mid-May. Being a forum for some of the country’s well-educated netizens, the festival was curated with the aim of celebrating and supporting the young generations of professionals. The initiative, therefore, shows Zhihu’s attempt at engaging with the so-called “new professionals”, which is estimated to have hit 400 million, active in fields concentrated in advanced manufacturing and the tertiary sector.
Painting a picture of China’s new professionals
As part of the platform’s efforts to empower its target audience, the festival saw the release of a documentary series entitled “This Generation of Professionals.” With four professionals from the Gen Z and millennial crowds being the protagonists, it documented those young workers who had redefined the meaning of work and life, including a full-time dad who left a high-paying job to pursue a more fulfilling life, a game developer who transformed into a stand-up comedian after work, a “new farmer” who left the city to engage in agriculture in their hometown, and a research scientist who balanced their daytime job with being a fitness coach. Their stories and choices provided inspiration and new perspectives for other professionals of their generation.
Alongside the series, Zhihu published the “Secret Guidelines for New Professionals“, which is a practical guidebook compiled by 65 of the platform’s most trusted respondents. This guidebook provides solutions to addressing potential confusions and challenges being faced by young professionals who have just entered working life.
It includes tips and advice in dealing with workplace dilemmas such as 内卷 (nèi juǎn; a term referring to the predatory competition in the labour market), work life balance, and pay and career development at different ages, such as 35, which is viewed as “a crisis” in one’s professional life due to the age limit set by most companies for job applications and also the cap set for those who want to take the civil servant exam – one of the national exams which is seeing growing competition.
Resonating with the young generation
To encourage discussions and exploration, Zhihu organised four roundtable live broadcasts and three themed roundtable events. These interactive sessions brought together Zhihu answerers, scholars, experts, and successful professionals to discuss work and life-related topics, ranging from “Where’s money from?” to “Recommendations for part time jobs” and “How to make yourself happy after work?”
Those formal conversations were flavoured with other lighter topics such as office fashion, recipes for easy-to-cook office food, anecdotes during the commute to work, small tools and devices to improve work efficiency and making naps in the office more comfortable.
The goal was to help professionals strike a balance between their careers and personal lives by presenting diverse perspectives and insights through various forms of discussion platforms. Users who joined the discussions under relevant hashtags also earned the opportunity to win a physical copy of the guidebook. As a result, this topic has drawn in nearly 42 million views on the Zhihu platform.
In addition to the online activities, Zhihu arranged offline sessions, assembling professionals at Predawn, a pub in Shanghai’s Changle Road on 15, 19 and 20 May. The time-limited gathering provided a space for new professionals to meet, network, and enjoy a drink, allowing the festival to be more participatory, therefore, enhancing user engagement. These combined efforts have resulted in the hashtag “This Generation of Professionals” to attract over 5.2 million on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo during the campaign season.
The festival is hot on the heels of the “2023 Zhihu Discovery Conference” held on 13 April in Beijing. Of which, Zhihu first revealed its ambition to target “职人” (zhí rén), which roughly translates to “professional” or “knowledge worker”, with the launch of 海盐计划 5.0 (hǎi yán jì huà) or Sea Salt Scheme 5.0. The term “职人” refers to someone who possesses relevant knowledge, experience, and skills in a specific field. While the upgraded long-term program is set to continue providing online traffic and monetisation support for content related to work professionals.
The further endeavour is based on the results of the earlier version of this scheme last year, which saw more than 200,000 joiners. As such, Zhihu is showing more confidence in leveraging its own ecosystem where knowledge sharing is at the core of engaging Gen Z and millennial professionals, who are also the demographics craving high-quality information on self-development and career success.