Social Networks in Russia (Part 2)

Here is my self-developed road map for Russian social networks (Moscow subway map was used as the background picture).

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Social Networks in Russia – 2013

It is hard to attempt to provide a full overview of existing social media. This map, however, allows for a brief introduction into some well known and large networks, owned both by Russian and foreign companies. These networks can be subdivided into several categories.

1. Social networks proper, or communities of Facebook-type. I have already published some information about the three largest social networks in Russia. The market share of Facebook and Google+ is growing; however their full potential is still unclear.

2. Dating sites are similar to social networks the only difference being that dating sites promote one-on-one contacts between the users who would not otherwise get to know each other in real life.

3. LinkedIn is probably the most well-known professional network used for job hunting and building up business contacts, whereas Maxpark (formerly gidepark) provides a large share of infotainment.

4. Blogs are another type of social networks that can be used both for sharing content and exchanges on a given topic. LiveJournal is one of the most well-known blog platforms in Russia. In LiveJournal blogs are sorted according to categories and the information is from selected blogs is publicly displayed and actively discussed.

5. Media sharing platforms can be subdivided into video-sharing and photo-sharing platforms.

6. And last but not least, sites like www.mail.ru and www.yandex.ru serve as umbrella brands for a variety of networks offered (they host video-sharing platforms, blog services, as well as other types of online communities).

There are extreme difficulties regarding making a ranking of Russian social networks. First, it is very typical of Russian users to be registered in several networks simultaneously (for example, being on VKontakte and Odnoklassniki at the same time); besides, the activity level of users in a social network fluctuates depending on the network type.

As a result, the exiting rankings, which can be based on the number of registered users or active users or visits per day or even the share of mind, are hardly comparable.

Secondly, the outcome of the ranking will be severely influenced by the target group. Maxpark, for example, is one of the leading networks among the respondents in the age group 30+, whereas it is hardly known among younger people.

And finally, the situation with social media is changing so rapidly that what was true yesterday may not be true as of today.

To conclude, the landscape of social networks in Russia is rather obscure and complex, which makes social media marketing in Russia especially challenging in addition to the existing mentality and language barriers.

Update: in 2019, the most popular networks in Russia included: vKontakte, OK.ru, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Social Networks in Russia (Part 1)

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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