And the winner is…
Despite the aggressive marketing efforts of Facebook&Co. to invade the Russian social networking market, the three leading social networks (according to the number of registered active users, statistics by WCIOM and TASS-telecom) are VKontakte.ru, Odnoklassniki.ru and MoiMir (project by Mail.ru).
Below I will give a brief description of functionality and background of these three social networks.
Ondnoklassniki.ru (Classmates) was created by Abert Popkov in Russia in 2006 and two years later was sold to the Mail.ru Group (http://corp.mail.ru/en).
It allows the users create groups, send messages and find new friends, as well as share and upload photos, videos, play online games and bookmark the content from other users. It also has a built-in function to detect profile visitors (“My Guests”) and a “Like” button (“Klass!”). It offers a collection of music tracks and allows posting music directly onto the profile or download/upload tracks.
MoiMir (MyWorld) was originally created as part of Mail.ru Group. It has recently introduced a new user interface, that basically makes it more similar to Facebook.
MoiMir’s functionality is basically very similar to that of Odnoklassniki, it also offers other functional features directly from the Mail.ru project (such as Ask-Answer Forums (Otvety.Mail.ru).
Both MoiMir and Odnoklassniki offer some extra features for the users (such as visiting pages anonymously, without being shown in the “Guests” tab) or a “VIP” account for a fee. Another interesting way of collecting money directly from the subscribers is selling stickers or virtual “presents” that can be paid for and added to the account or directly to the profile picture of another user. The same system works for “grading” a picture of another user with the best grade “5+” or “+10”.
Of course, B2B customers are also welcome. These sites also work with the Facebook model in targeting the user groups for advertising, though the costs are measured per 1000 impressions only. The accounts of both social networks, however, can display adverts from Target. Mail. Ru (a service similar to Google Ads).
Another website VKontakte. ru (InContact) was created and is still owned by Pavel Durov.
The functionality includes adding and sharing music and videos, playing online games, etc. The “Liked” content does not get shared with other users automatically (as on Mail.ru Group sites), it requires a separate click on the “Share with friends”. It is the only one of the three leading social networks that has user interface in English (as well as in other languages).
Advertising possibilities for companies on VKontakte are identical to those of Facebook.
Despite a number of extra features, some functions included on Facebook are missing. All the three networks in question do not distinguish between a “page” and a “group”, no additional functionality is offered, thus company pages have to be set up as “public groups”. Another drawback is that the visibility of separate wall posts cannot be controlled, though MoiMir allows to limit the visibility of the whole profile to friends only.
In the following posts I will take a broader look at the social media landscape in Russia.