Author: Olga Gusseva, Managing Partner, How2Russia
This article looks at seven trends impacting social media usage in Russia – local, grown-up, ageing, regional, mobile, multi-functional, commercial.
Despite some changes every year to the status of the Russian social media market, the two major leading Russian social networks (vKontakte and Ondoklassniki) are maintaining their position as most popular – and most analysts don’t see any reasons for a change to this in 2016.
Audience of social networks in Russia (mln. Visitors per month)
Source: TNS Global for «Izvestia» newspaper, izvestia.ru/news/587631
In accordance with the TNS data, the monthly target audience of vKontakte is 46.6 million people (November 2015 data), with Ondoklassniki keeping second place with 31.5 million monthly.
All the major global networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and LinkedIn are maintaining their positions as second-tier networks. The monthly Facebook audience in December 2015 amounted to 21.7 million people, Moy Mir’s audience equaled 16.6 million and LiveJournal had an audience of 15.2 million.
By December 2015 Instagram had increased their audience by 2 million users and reached 12.3 million people. Twitter’s audience remained almost unchanged at 7.7 million users.
Analysts believe that in the forthcoming 2–3 years there is limited potential for large social network growth, as they have reached their natural limit and already encompass most of the available audience.
Experts forecast growth for the second-tier networks however, with Instagram being the fastest-growing social network in Russia. Facebook is also getting more popular and it is growing primarily as a source of business contacts and a platform for business relationships. More than 30% of all business-related posts in Russian social media were posted in Facebook.
Analysts also note the growth of customer review networks – both in the number of new reviews and number of visitors, and a substantial increase in video content consumption.
Experts suggest that people in the big cities are already largely covered by social networks, but that growth potential still exists in other regions of Russia as well as within older segments of the population.
The majority of Russian social media users are female on Instagram (77.1% of the active audience) and Odnoklassniki (69.1%) – but LiveJournal and Twitter currently have more male users.
The biggest trend in Russian social media is mobile. People are using social networks less from desktop computers and gravitating more and more over to mobile devices. The networks that are primarily created to be used from mobile devices, like Instagram and Periscope, have much better potential for growth compared to other networks.
In September 2015 mobile traffic accounted for 58% of the total internet traffic in Russia (source: www.liveinternet.ru/stat/ru/oses.html?slice=rus;id=2;id=15;id=12;id=4;id=11;id=checked;period=month) – and the numbers keep growing.
Another important trend in Russian social media is multi-functionality. People appreciate the opportunity to use a mobile network in a number of different ways: writing longer posts and even articles on Instagram, creating build-in chats on vKontakte and using it as a platform for exchanging information and files.
People also tend to use more than one social network – the share of cross-posted messages in Instagram to other social networks exceeds 50% of the messages.
The last-but-not-least feature is bad news for users, but good for those using social networks for business: social networks are doing everything possible to attract commercial advertising. Every social network, including popular Russian networks, offer sophisticated targeting possibilities from social demographics to behavioral factors and check-ins at specific locations.
Only 27% of Russian internet users are frequently visiting internet shops while 91% are using social networks on a daily basis. As a result, more and more marketing budgets are shifting to social media. A few years ago, banks and commercial companies were registering accounts in social media just to test the waters, and now many of them already have dedicated specialists that are responsible for it. Moreover, many small business owners choose to create a page or a group in social media instead of building a website – they present their product, negotiate and sell there.
In short, being present in social media in Russia is no longer a luxury – it is a must, a condition for survival for a successful business.