Russia is a unique country, both in general and in terms of their social media usage. While the whole world is socializing on Facebook and Twitter, watching videos on Youtube, and blogging on Blogspot, Russian people have national social networks which are still way more popular than global social media giants. In addition, Russians are second for social media use in the world. So, what do they like to do when spending on average 10.3 hours per month in social networks?
- They watch movies and listen to music. Vkontakte, the most popular social network in Russia, contains a massive collection of audio and video content. Often, if you are looking for rare songs from lesser known bands, you’ll find them there rather than on Youtube. However, the company has already been sued several times for copyright violations. But still, nothing much is done in this regards by the company owner, and Russians continue to enjoy freedom that many in the West don’t have.
- They laugh. Seriously, just look at the top 5 most popular pages in Vkontakte. Four of them are dedicated either to popular comedy TV shows or simply to funny pictures. In Facebook the most popular pages are dedicated to celebrities or (surprise!) to Facebook itself.
- They play games. And serious ones: the most popular one in Vkontakte with 8.7 million participants is called Turyaga (“Prison”), where you have to turn your character into a respectful criminal and communicate with other inhabitants of the prison.
- They discuss brands and share user experience. There are a lot of unofficial pages for different brands created by regular Vkontakte users to unite people with a common like for a particular brand and to allow them to share their experience, ask questions, etc. There are also official pages, which look more like wiki-type resources updated by followers, and controlled by group administrators. I found such pages for Volvo, HTC, Samsung, Apple, Nokia and many more.
- They read blogs. Judging by statistics at Alexa , within the top-20 most visited web pages in Russia there are 3 blogging platforms: Livejournal, LiveInternet and Blogspot. Although Blogspot and WordPress are also among UK top-20 pages, Russians spend significantly more time reading blogs: on average 8:44 minutes per day in Livejournal and 6:49 in LiveInternet, versus around 4.5 minutes for WordPress and Blogspot in the UK. Moreover, blogs are often used as media platforms, where people express the disagreement with today’s political regime in the country. These bloggers are hugely popular with about 40-50 thousand subscribers. Some of them were the key-players during the latest protests in Moscow in December and February.
- They reconnect with former classmates and school friends. There is a social media platform created especially for this called Odnoklassniki. School friendship is usually very strong in Russia, and there is even a special day once a year when all former pupils can come to their high school, meet teachers, and talk to former classmates.
These are the main trends in Russian social networks. Do you find it different from the UK and other countries? Do you think that brands should incorporate these differences into their strategies when promoting themselves in Russian market?
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