Lost in translation – social media trends in Russia
If we said ‘Vkontakte’, would you know what it meant? How about ‘Odnoklassniki’? If not, you should read on to fill in the gaps of your Russian social media knowledge. In this white paper Oban share advice on how to run a successful global social media campaign and increase brand visibility.
Russia has one of the world’s most highly-engaged social media audiences in terms of hours spent online. On average each user spends 10 hours per month on the web, more than double the global average of 4.5 hours1. Brands wanting to build a presence in this emerging market are advised to analyse market research trends, to identify what channels are worth investing in.
Did you know?
Russia ranks fifth (57.9 million) in the total number of active social network users worldwide
17.7 million of that 57.9 million population are using mobiles2
73% of online users aged 18-24 use mobile devices for social networking3
As social media consumption increases, so will a brand’s desire to understand what platforms incite greater engagement and reach. Statistics indicate Russia is moving progressively toward a mobile-dominated future. As one of the most active social media users worldwide, brands entering this market must inherently understand and adapt marketing messages that are relevant to this unique culture. Content should only be created by a native expert who understands your target market and brand. This goes beyond translation, deeper into the realms of cultural trends, beliefs and shared values.
Image credit: eMarketer, Feb 2012
Popular social media platforms
Homegrown social media networks dominate Russia, outperforming their Western counterparts Facebook and Twitter. ‘Vkontakte’ (ВКонтакте; ‘vuh-kon-takt’) – meaning ‘in touch’ – is the most popular social networking site in Russia4, with almost 28 million users visiting each month5.
To register a page on, Vkontakte, you will need a contact who is an existing user on the site. Your contact can then invite you to join the platform so you can set up a public page.
Odnoklassniki (‘classmates’) is another popular, domestic social media platform with more than 17 million active users (August, 2010)6. Centred on ‘finding old school or college friends’ its popularity focuses on sharing up-to-date news, photos and videos. It’s highly recommended an official open group is created on Odnoklassniki, as opposed to a closed group, since open groups can be indexed by search engines. Content and engagement can only be viewed within the site itself and although, Odnoklassniki, has a large online audience, there are only small-scale opportunities, due to the lack of advanced features and support provided.
Image credit: eMarketer
Despite a relatively small share of the market, there is a positive trend in global platforms. Audiences of foreign networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are increasing at speed, as highlighted below:
Facebook’s share rose from 5% (2010) to 18% (2012)
Twitter increased from 2% (2010) to 9% (2012)
In addition, it’s worth noting a Russian group from your existing Facebook brand page can be indexed by domestic search giants Yandex and Google.ru.
If you have a YouTube channel you’ll be relieved to hear it is Russia’s most popular video sharing platform. YouTube had a staggering 30 million unique visitors from Russia during October 2011, whilst local website RuTube (owned by Mail.ru) received 18 million visitors over the same period8. Here at, Oban Multilingual, we recommend incorporating both platforms, where relevant, to increase brand visibility.
Tip: To manage content on, RuTube, edit your existing content on YouTube – adding Russian subtitles and tags – then sharing on Russian networks such as Vkontakte.
Image credit: comScore
So, what have we learnt from this white paper? Using Vkontakte and RuTube with your Russian language website can increase brand visibility. Other social platforms like Facebook and Twitter can still be incorporated, but requires unique content to attract the linguistically sensitive Russian. Integrating these social platforms into your digital marketing strategy will help drive engagement, reach and brand visibility. For more information on search trends in Russia please see, Oban Multilingual’s, accompanying white paper ‘Russia’s online revolution’.