“Your first 50 right steps to enter the Russian food market”.
Step №26 – “Russian social networks”
Of course in the modern world, social networks have become one of the main channels for promoting your products and advertising. Russia is not an exception, but as in many other business processes Russia is different from the rules adopted throughout the world.Let me tell you today about the most popular Russian social networks, their pros and cons. But at the beginning I will briefly tell you what is not popular in Russia and what will not work for your company and your food products to promote in the food market of Russia.
I have to say that the main global social network for business contacts Linkedin has been blocked in Russia for more than 2 years. For refusing to obey and abide by Russian laws. Before its blocking, of course, it was a very popular network in Russia, especially among top managers. Now Likenid in Russia can only be used via VPN (like I do). But of course there is almost no activity in it among Russian users. They don’t remember about this network in the media, Russian companies don’t start new pages in it. Linkedin is used only by those who are constantly in contact with foreign customers.
Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are the most un-popular social networks in Russia. It happened so historically. According to analytical research, only about 10-12% of Russians use Facebook. For Twitter numbers are even smaller. The reason of low usage of Facebook is because there are two Russian social networks that are easier to use and more interesting for Russians. Twitter is not interesting because the limit on the number of characters does not allow the Russian person to express his thoughts. And it’s not a joke. For example, I do not have a single friend who uses Twitter in Russia.
It is worth saying that many Russian companies do start their business pages on Facebook and Twitter, but this is more to look “cool” and “just to have it” than for real promotion and communication with their clients.The largest number of Facebook and Twitter users in Russia is of course in the largest cities of Russia – Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg. But these are only 3-4 cities out of 1,113 that exist in Russia.
If we talk about the most popular global social networks in Russia, the undisputed leaders are Instagram and YouTube. I will speak more than once about advantages of developing your brand and your products in Russia through Instagram in “50 First Steps to Enter the Russian Food Market”.
So, what social networks are popular among Russians?
In terms of creation date, the first social network in Russia was Odnoklasniki.ru network (literally translated into English as “Classmates”). In the first few years this was such a popular social network that to get register you had to pay money! About $2. And everyone paid, do not doubt. Probably 70-80% of Russians aged 35+ have an account on this network.
The functionality is the same as in Facebook – you can create both your personal page and company page, write articles and post videos and photos, send messages, repost and like others’ posts. Registration is now free for everyone.
VKontakte (vk.com) – this network appeared second in Russia (literally translated into English as “be in contact”). And in the beginning everyone did not understand why it is needed because there was Odnoklasniki? But VKontakte network was created not by some IT company, this network was created by one person, his name is Pavel Durov. It is him who turned this network into such a popular network in Russia and the CIS that Facebook was not able to gain its market share.
Now VKontakte is probably the most basic social network in Russia. The functions are similar to Facebook functions but in a more simplified way. That concerns the interface and functionality. VKontakte has its own currency, you can create your own shop there and sell your goods, you can even accept payments from card to card without a fee through this network. This network has also become a storage of illegal video and music. Just like in Facebook, you can create, customize and run your promotions here.
Any Russian company that starts its business, first of all creates VKontakte page. Many Russian companies do not even have a website but VKontakte page is always there. Registration is free. VKontakte also has an English version of the interface.
So, I do not have a single friend who uses Twitter, but I can say without any doubt that I do not have a single acquaintance who does not have a VKontakte page.
The youngest, strangest and fastest growing social network in Russia is Yandex.Zen. This is something like Instagram and a blog. Its essence is as follows. Russia has its most popular Internet browser, Yandex (for more information about it and its huge benefits for you as for a foreigner, see step 48 the link to which will be under this post) and Yandex.Zen network works only in this browser.
When you open Yandex browser, the browser will recommend you articles from Yandex.Zen under the search box. Usually, small posts and pictures with text are posted in Yandex Zen. They are put on the screens of a computer or a smartphone as cards like in Instagram. A huge advantage of this network is that Yandex browser’s neural network recommends you these “article cards” depending on what you read or search on the Internet. So, an advertisement article about your products or your company will be shown only to those users who are really interested in this topic. It’s very conveniently, isn’t it? Everything you post will be seen and read only by your target audience.
Yandex.Zen articles are very simple to post, it is similar to creating an article in Linkedin. In this network, you can create a page and post only your own posts on it. Readers can leave comments, like and subscribe to your channel. By the way, this is the only social network in Russia that pays money if people read your posts. After your posts have got more than 7,000 readings per week, you can activate monetization and receive money from Yandex.Zen service. As I said, this is not a very common network, but its popularity is growing very rapidly among companies.
By the way, for all Android mobile phones, which are delivered to Russia, Yandex browser is a must. It is ten times more popular than Chrome and Safari because Yandex is better in searching information in the Russian language than Google. But I must say that in the English-language Internet, it is much worse and I always use Google.
There is another social network which I need to tell you about. Telegram is a Russian network, since it was developed by a Russian in Russia. However, this network is now banned in Russia for refusing to obey the laws of Russia. It is believed that this is the safest network in the world. It was created by the same Pavel Durov, who created VKontakte.
This network gained popularity because of its phenomenal security when communicating and encrypting its data. In general, this network is a mixture of Facebook, What’sApp, Gmail and many more. Here you can also create a group, personal pages, write posts, post videos and photos, call (you will have a personal number as in What’sApp). I can say that this network has completely killed email services in many countries of the former USSR. It has become a cult, something like WeChat in China.
As I said, Telegram is officially banned in Russia, but the number of its users is constantly growing. I see very many pages and groups of Russian companies in this network. You can read comparison of Telegram and What’sApp networks in the article “Why I do not use What’sApp”, the link will be will be under this post.
So, let’s summarize:
- All Russian companies necessarily have pages in Russian social networks. This greatly helps to sales and development of their business.
- Russians up to 35 years old use mainly VKontakte and Telegram. Russians over 35-40 are the main users of Odnoklassniki. Decide for yourself who your potential customers in Russia are and start pages in the networks where your customers are.
- Yandex.Zen is considered to be a very promising channel for the development of your products since it is focused only on your target audience and you can link each article directly to your website.
- Do not spend money on advertising in Facebook in Russia. It is a waste of money.
- Write posts on your pages to promote your products in Russia only in the Russian language. First of all, none of Russian social network has an automatic translation of a post (like Instagram or LinkedIn). Secondly, in Russia, English skills are very bad, not to mention the rest of the world’s languages.
- And of course use all Russian social networks, this is the easiest, most effective and cheapest way to enter the Russian food market and increase the sales of your food products.
If you do not have your own page in the Russian social networks yet, please contact me:-) !!!
Business Adviser in the Russian Food Industry
Please read the same my other steps: