Contact Us

How do people use social media in Russia?

by Nigel Hollis | November 08, 2012

This blog post continues the series of posts looking at social media in different countries. Here, Anastasia Kourovskaia, Vice-President EMEA Millward Brown Optimor, provides an overview of social media in Russia. 

Social media is huge in Russia. According to the latest statistics from, 82 percent of the 70 million Internet users in Russia have an account on at least one social network. Moreover, at 9.8 hours a month, Russians spend twice as long as an average global user on social networks.

In addition to staying in touch and sharing, Russians are drawn by file sharing of music and movies and online gaming. Similar to China, people in Russia flock online as a result of disillusionment in the broadcast media.

What are the most popular social networks among consumers in Russia and why?

One of the big surprises for clients who look at Russia is that Facebook and Google are by far not the key players on the market. Yandex, the most popular search engine in the Russian Internet space, has a market share above 60 percent, more than three times that of Google’s. This is because Yandex offers an objectively better service with an advanced product offer. 

The most popular social networks are: with 73 percent of Internet users’ registrations, vKontakte with 62 percent, MoiMir with 31 percent, followed by Facebook with 18 percent. 

What brands have you seen succeed in the social media space?

Engagement: Dewar’s Whisky created a great lifestyle community in (at that point, Livejournal served as an all-purpose online resource). The community celebrated freedom of mind and ability to enjoy life, and it had a significant following. Unfortunately, Livejournal has changed the concept and it is no longer as popular as it used to be. 

Growing sales: Cheap trip community supported the last minute sales of holidays and travel. The travel company, with a handful of offices around Moscow, started advertising new stock via its social media page and sold it off through the offices on a first come first served basis. Now, it is expanding beyond the Moscow region and is among the leading travel agencies.

Building brand: As part of its rebranding process, Sberbank created a small team whose task was to monitor the social space and solve issues. The team employed sophisticated filters to identify complaints, understand the problem and resolve it by liaising with local offices. This effort went a long way in helping to turn around the Sberbank brand and rejuvenate its outdated image.

What challenges do brands face in Russia when using social media?

Remember the amplifier effect: Online content can quickly transcend into the offline, particularly given the high level of engagement with social media networks among the leading journalists. There have been a number of examples where the viral effect took over and offline headlines were driven by content born in social networks.

Beware “advertorials” strategy: Unlike State-controlled or State-revering broadcast media, social networks are expected not to push hidden agendas. An example of this would be retail discounter, Utkonos, which paid a dozen or so bloggers to post positive reviews about the brand. This had a huge whiplash and a new term “to utkonos” was born: when a blogger is making inordinately positive comments about a brand or a product, he or she is often asked “are you utkonosing?” 

Getting to the right customer: Brands in Russia are spoilt for choice. If in the USA, it is Facebook all the way, but in Russia, the answer is not so certain. vKontakte offers a younger audience and allows very focused targeting, incorporating the best features of Facebook. Odnoklassniki offers older demographics, with 25 minutes daily usage versus 3 minutes for Facebook. Facebook does not really offer “an average consumer,” its users are primarily Moscow centered IT, PR, marketing and media professionals.    

Leave a comment