Unravelling the Social Media Scene in Russia

Social media has emerged as one of the most effective and widely used opportunities for advertising. Whether it’s a sponsored post on Facebook or a well-managed Twitter account, the importance of building an online social presence cannot be ignored.

Russia currently leads Europe when it comes to internet usage, going from 3.2 million users in 2003 to 57 million in late 2013.

While sites like Facebook and Twitter are accessible and popular, the majority of social interaction occurs on the two largest local sites, VK (formerly VKontakte) and Odnoklassniki. In order to crack this relatively untapped market, understanding Russian social media trends is essential.

VK

Sometimes referred to as “Russia’s Facebook” due to similarities in colour scheme and the ability to “like” content, VK is Russia’s largest social network, and the second most popular website in the country.

VK has 239 million registered accounts with 49 million people visiting on a daily basis. Launched in 2006 by Pavol Durov, this social network has worked hard recently to appear open and attractive to foreign advertisers, starting its own ad network in 2013. It allows the use of ad integration and is, unsurprisingly, similar to Facebook advertising.

The site is especially popular among people aged 25-34, but still attracts a wide number of teenagers and middle aged people, and as such provides advertisers with access to a quite diverse audience. Moreover, VK is also popular in Ukraine and Belarus.

Odnoklassniki

With 65 million registered accounts and an average of 15 million daily visitors, Odnoklassniki has likewise succeeded in keeping the big global giants at bay. In fact, the popularity of the site has reached such heights that it developed into a movie featuring Snoop Dog and a magic laptop!

Moreover, the platform’s great emphasis on images, including the ability to rate personal pictures on a scale from 1 to 5, has seen Odnoklassniki become a favourite among photographers.

The site tends to attract an older crowd, particularly those in the 35-44 age bracket, but enjoys great popularity across the board – not only in Russia but also in the surrounding, former Soviet countries such as Moldova, Armenia and Georgia.

Advertising on Odnoklassniki is relatively straightforward and brand pages are clearly laid out with community admins able to manage page content, as well as track the number of people interacting with the page.

Making the most of what VK and Odnoklassniki have to offer should be top priorities for improving your business’ online presence in the Russian marketplace. But it doesn’t end here.

Facebook

Despite trailing VK and Odnoklassniki, Facebook has been slowly gaining momentum in Russia. As recently as last month, the global social juggernaut reached an agreement with Yandex which sees public Facebook posts and comments getting integrated into Yandex’s search results. While the exact impact of this partnership has yet to be determined, it’s a given that Facebook’s online visibility will greatly benefit from the deal.

With approximately 8 million users, mostly 25-45 and living in the major cities, Facebook is becoming the trendy social networking site and is particularly popular with people who have friends living abroad.

Russia has been embracing social media without giving up on local social networks in favour of global services, such as Facebook or Google+. Any company or marketer interested in taking opportunities in this market needs to understand this hypersocial culture and how to work with these different channels.

Take your social media campaign to the next level. Over 45% of the population in Russia will be active on social media by the end of this year, and that’s an audience you should not miss.