Social media use: Instagram in Russia

Instagram in Russia has taken off with a far more impressive impact as a foreign app compared to the slow entrance of Facebook and others . The app has become an increasingly popular photo sharing social media app worldwide. Instagram is yet another way to connect with friends, follow celebrities, get fitness and beauty advice, among other uses like travel or humor accounts. Plus Instagram eventually introduced sponsored content like the rest of the social media. Worldwide the app is used quite similarly and certain accounts draw followers from around the globe but there are also country specific uses that develop out of domestic interests, hashtags in different languages, and general Internet behavior that can vary from one country to another.

This year Instagram ranked 9th out of Russia’s top ten sites. According to eMarketer, Instagram ranked 6th out of Russia’s top ten mobile apps ranked by unique audience, with 4.7 million Russian users. Russian Search Marketing has looked at  the app and website to create a fun post outlining what we could surmise about Russian users on Instagram. This post isn’t supported by data but instead by  our own activity on Instagram interacting with Russian accounts and hashtags.

How Instagram Stacks up to Social Media in Russia

According to eMarketer, 48% of Russians are registered to a social networking platform, and said they sometimes or constantly used social media. While social networks are widespread among Russia’s Internet population, about 45% of consumers in the country are not registered on any social media platforms. According to eMarketer, it is expected that 79.2% of Russians will use a social network in 2016. By 2019, it is expected that it will rise to 80.2%. Instagram is one of the top social media websites that Russians are using, and was the third top social network included in Russia’s top ten sites this past year. Following behind local Russian social media sites, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. The high rankings says a lot about Instagram’s success in Russia because it immediately follows in popularity after domestic social networks. Facebook has grown in popularity there but still does not quite have the penetration it does elsewhere around the world. Russia only has 9 million Facebook users, out of its 83 million Interent users, with a low 11% penetration.


Russians on Instagram

The average Russian displays very similar Instagram behavior as most, posting travel pictures or photos with their families. However, Russians have been known to post lots of photos of themselves on social media and Instagram is no exception. The government even needed to outline some rules to prevent selfie injuries, something most people with a smartphone these days could use.

Generally, it seems there is a stronger female oriented use of Instagram. Many of the posts are focused on beauty products, hair, and fashion. This comes as no surprise because culturally Russians hold a high value on appearance and name brands. The appreciation Russians have for appearance is seen in multiple ways through their online behavior. In addition to Instagram posts, the most common search query topics from both tablets and phones are related to health and beauty at, equating to 9% of all queries from those devices. Instagram posts relating to beauty and fashion are not exclusive to Russian users, and are actually a very common theme even among American users of the mobile app.


In the same way that many Americans use Instagram to follow celebrities through photos, it seems that Russian socialites and celebrities have the same same following from Russian Instagram users. For example, Xenia Sobchak, is a Russian socialite with 3.8 million Instagram followers. Many of her posts show her lavish lifestyle, including clothes she wears and products she uses. Or Miroslava Duma, a Russian digital entrepreneur, who has 1.5 million followers on Instagram and is constantly updating her account with pictures about fashion and technology.


While women seem to show dominant representation on Instagram, there is definitely a Russian male presence on the social media app too. Men’s posts are often about fitness and travel. Fitness is likely a common theme in Russian Instagram posts because of the resurgence of personal fitness in Russia. There has been an increase of fitness centers throughout the country. Also similarly to the United States, lifestyle blogs about fitness goals, workouts, and healthy eating are popping up all over the internet.  Male fashion interest is present as well, because culturally the appreciation of brand names and appearance goes beyond Russian women.

Just like many of the humor accounts, Russians also follow domestics accounts full of memes that include their own humor and Russian translations of some of the videos and images we see trending on our own feeds.  The screenshot below shows a woman dancing to an Usher song with a caption about wishing to rock like that woman at her age.


When it comes to hashtags, of course Russians follow more topics in their own language. A while back a Russian hashtag trended that translated to elevator look that had everyone from the average person to the Russian prime minister posting selfies in elevators. Such trends are sometimes inspired from international or social media events across the globe but others such as the one just described also remain in country.

After looking at how Russians use Instagram, it is clear that they interact on social media like most users with a slight variation of cultural nuances.