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Social media is just different in Russia. While over 82% of the population uses social media accounts, they may not be accounts on websites that you recognize.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube dominate the social media world in most countries, but Russia (and some surrounding areas such as Kazakstan and Ukraine) often prefer regional replacements for these platforms.

This difference in social media use is of huge importance for brands who use social media sites for advertising, as it can completely change a marketing strategy that is used in other parts of the world. That aside, it’s also just interesting to see how online communication can differ in different parts of the world!

Here are eight of the social media platforms that are best at connecting with Russian users.

1. Vk.com

Vk (previously known as VKontakte) is by far the most popular social media platform in Russia, with over 46.6 million monthly users. There are a lot of interesting facts about VK 10 Incredible VK Facts You Should Know (AKA Russia's Facebook) 10 Incredible VK Facts You Should Know (AKA Russia's Facebook) If you live in Russia, you're far more likely to think of the Russian social media website vk.com (formerly known as VKontakte) than Facebook. Here are some amazing things to know about VK. Read More , but the platform is best described as a combination between Facebook and a file sharing platform. Much like Facebook, users have a profile and can easily search for and add other users to follow their status updates, photos, and videos.VkAug5

Along with these traditional functions, users can also upload video and audio files of any kind and share these resources with other users as well. In the past, this has come under scrutiny as it occasionally crossed legal boundaries – however, recent reports indicate that VK is now working with major record labels to launch a subscription service that will allow for legal sharing of these files.

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2. OK.ru

While VK may be most popular with younger users (ages 18-34), older social media users generally prefer the social media site OK (originally Odnoklassniki – “classmates”). OK.ru has over 31.5 million viewers a month, with the majority (69%) being women.

ok.ruAug5

Much like VK, OK allows users to create a profile, search for friends, and share status updates and images. The focus of OK is reconnecting with classmates and friends that users may have lost touch with over the years, so the search parameters are quite detailed. As well, the site offers a feature that tells you who has been visiting your profile (whether or not you are their friend) – to view others’ profiles without leaving a trail you have to pay to enable “Invisible mode.”

3. Moi Mir

Perhaps the best well-known equivalent to Russia’s Moi Mir is Google+. Much like Google+, Moi Mir (“My World”) is an extension of the Internet/e-mail provider mail.ru (which also owns both OK and VK) and has perhaps struggled to find its unique niche Google's Plus: The Latest in Long Line of Social Flops Google's Plus: The Latest in Long Line of Social Flops Google's history of launching social network is a series of failures. Read More in the broader social media scene.

MyWorldAug5

Over 16.6 million people use Moi Mir each month to share images, music, and videos, as well as to play games and meet new friends. Moi Mir’s search strategy includes several questions focused on a person’s dating life, which is something that most other social media sites have yet to do.

4. Facebook

Even though Facebook isn’t the most popular social media site in Russia, its popularity has definitely begun to spread – it now receives over 21.6 million Russian visitors each month. This isn’t necessarily surprising, as Facebook is constantly changing its platform 10 New Facebook Tricks You Should Know About in 2016 10 New Facebook Tricks You Should Know About in 2016 Facebook is at it again – we're only a few weeks into 2016, and there are already several new changes to the world's most popular social network, with more significant changes coming later this year. Read More to better align with its perceived users’ needs.

What’s interesting is that analysts suggest part of the reason Facebook is becoming more popular in Russia is because of business conversations – this report suggests that over 30% of business-related discussions in Russia take place on Facebook.

5. Livejournal

Livejournal is a blogging platform that has been around since 1999, but has since generally fallen into disuse in most of the world. This trend is far from true in Russia, however, where over 15.1 million users visit Livejournal each month – over half of the site’s total traffic.

LiveJournal

Personal blogs are a great way to develop and share your opinion 5 Tips For Starting Your Personal Blog [Opinion] 5 Tips For Starting Your Personal Blog [Opinion] As an occasional personal blogger, I have seen a lot of other folks in the blogosphere who just want to write personal publications that are not exactly meant for making money. I really like that,... Read More and perspectives online in a way that allows for more thought and discussion than the sort of short messages shared on more recent social media profiles. Thankfully, livejournal integration is still supported Why And How You Should Self-Publish Your Diary Or Journal Why And How You Should Self-Publish Your Diary Or Journal Do you keep a journal or diary on one of the several online life logs? You might be interested in publishing your thoughts in form of a book. Self-publishing is easier than you think Read More  by a number of online services, allowing it to maintain its important role in Russia and beyond.

6. Twitter

RussiaTwitterAug5

Twitter is another classic social media site that does quite well in Russia. While it doesn’t receive as many unique monthly visitors as the other sites in this list (approximately 7.7 million/month), it boasts the most engagement per author out of all social media sites used in Russia. So, even though Twitter may not be a mainstay for most Russian social media users, those who choose to use it are tweeting up a storm!

7. Rutube

Rutube is essentially Russia’s answer to YouTube – a social media platform centred on video sharing for content of all types.

RuTubeAug5

While it hasn’t achieved the incredible reach of YouTube, Rutube has collected a wide range of content from a large number of diverse users. Rutube hosts both licensed content and user uploads, and the vast majority of all uploads are in Russian. This high percentage of Russian content makes Rutube an incredibly valuable resource for anyone trying to learn the language.

8. Instagram

The final social media platform on this list, Instagram has become hugely popular in the last few years and its popularity in Russia is no exception. Instagram is rapidly moving up the social media ranks in Russia, and currently has 12.3 million monthly users (77% of whom are younger females).

InstagramRussiaAug5

This shift in popularity is thanks in large part to cross-posting between Instagram and other platforms, where users will use Instagram’s great photo editing tools 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do On Instagram 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do On Instagram While Instagram's main functions continue to be easy to access and use, there are several options, tools, and third-party apps that most of us don't even realize are out there! Read More to enhance and caption a photo, and then post it both to Instagram and to other popular social media websites.

Russia’s Social Media Success

The success of unique social media platforms such as VK and OK in Russia and surrounding countries can be surprising to those of us who are used to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram holding a complete monopoly over all social media communication. There is definitely something to be said for social media sites that are targeted at a specific user base, whether geographically (as in these examples) or based on other demographics (as can be seen with many of Snapchat’s features 7 Reasons Snapchat is a Teenager's Favourite Social Network 7 Reasons Snapchat is a Teenager's Favourite Social Network The latest craze amongst the adults of the future is the secretive photo-sharing service Snapchat. Why do they love it? Read More ).

If you’re from Russia and you could expand on why you do or don’t use different social media platforms, I’d love to hear your insight in the comments! If you’re not from Russia, which of the social media sites above were unfamiliar to you before reading this article?

  1. Fiorella
    September 19, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Hello! I am fom Italy and I was just finding something about how social media work in Russia for my degree thesis. This article is very interesting and I had the opportunity to discover the existence of Rutube, I had never heard about it before. So thanks a lot, great job! :)

    • Briallyn Smith
      September 19, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Hi Fiorella,
      One student to another, I'm glad this article could be at least a little helpful in writing your thesis! :) Good luck with the rest of your research!

  2. Anthony
    August 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    so many haters... chill out guys. ;-)

    • Briallyn Smith
      August 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Glad I've got you around, Anthony :)

  3. ?????? ???????
    August 18, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Hi, I'm from Ukraine. The secret of Russian (I rather say exUSSR) social network is misunderstanding English (when VK&OK starts, FB was English only). Present situation is another - teenagers use VK for free music, games and absense of parents. Parents use OK to talk with classmates and other friends and other colleagues. People who 40+ like to nostalgie with their friends ?? ??. Livejournal - is the 1st social-like site, where people can communicate to each other, but now in almost dead. Youth uses international social networks - FB, twitter, Instagram.

    • Briallyn Smith
      August 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks so much for this! It's really great to hear about these sites from someone who lives in Ukraine and uses them :) It's crazy how little I knew about them before I started working here, and I love getting to hear how they're used in "real life" vs. online statistics!

  4. loggin inn
    August 16, 2016 at 10:14 am

    in terms of design and look it is better than facebook, but it's totally controlled by FSB (formerly KGB) and you/your conversations are absolutely opened to russian state deps. after leaving Durov from vk it became a piece of sh*t in the hands of oligarhic mafia along with mail.ru and "ok" because of the same owner. so you have nothing to learn in terms of business from russian social media.

    • Briallyn Smith
      August 22, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks so much for your insight into this - I didn't necessarily want to touch on this aspect of it in the article itself, just because I'm not as well-versed in it as I'd like to be before sharing the political side. Your comment is very helpful - thanks again!! :)

  5. mrs
    August 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    vk is way better than facebook.

    • Briallyn Smith
      August 22, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      When I was checking it out for this article, I was definitely jealous that it isn't more popular in my social circles!

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