25 March 2013

Russian Social Media: The Growth of Social Media in Russia

Russian social media

Russian Social Media Awakening

As Keith Richards (founding member of The Rolling Stones) commented “it was jeans and rock music that brought the iron curtain down”. As historian Niall Ferguson wittily noted: “perhaps the greatest mystery of the cold war is why the workers’ paradise could not manage to produce a decent pair of jeans.” Twenty two years after the wall fell, and European unification between west and east began in earnest. It is perhaps little wonder that the children of Gorbachev have started the Russian social media awakening with the same fervour their forefathers put into the “October Revolution”.

The Red bear is awakening from its communist lethargy. From behind the remnants of the shrouds of the iron curtain. The high levels of social and economic change which are occurring within the nation are drastically changing the countries cultural backdrop beyond recognition. Millions of Russia’s youth aged 18-27, are mobilising. They are posting, tweeting, liking and blogging on a vast plethora of social media platforms and associated mediums.

This pattern is clearly demonstrated through facts such as the massive embrace of Facebook on a national level. Demonstrated through the 376% growth of Russian Facebook membership, after the platforms January 2010 launch in the nation. Today the figure for Russian Facebook regular user is over 4.5 million.

This pattern shows a massive shift in membership from the nation’s indigenous Russian social media platform: Vkontakte, of which nearly three quarters of the new Facebook members are, under 27. The shift demonstrates that the nation’s youth wishes to engage with the international realm, within the global online community. Demonstrated by the rapid growth of the Russian Twitter community which is still in the early stages of inception. It did though grow by 300% in 2010.

To outsiders it may be surprising that Russian mobile ownership now stands at approximately 80% of the populace. The incorporation of smart phones and their usage is beginning to change the landscape of communication. For both the business and political sphere. In tangible terms, the Russian youth under 24, are the world’s third greatest user of smartphone formats. What is termed “advanced mobile data” beaten only by the techno titans of China and the U.S.A. What is of real significance with the “Russian Social Media Revolution,” is not the engagement with social platforms themselves. Moreover it is than massive level of involvement we are witnessing.

Russian Social Media – Comscore Survey Social Media in Russia

A Comscore survey conducted in 2010 noted that Russia had the most connected and engaged online social media community in the world. Making the Russians the world’s most social nation. To demonstrate, in 2010 Russians spent an average of twice the hours of any other nation on the social media platform Facebook. They averaged ten hours a month. The later Comscore report conducted in May 2011, concurred these results showing an increase to 10.2 hours. This is almost double that of their American counterparts. Surprisingly Twitter’s Russian users have proved more resilient than their American counterparts. The Americans are decreasing in number, with 60% of Russian users updating their profile daily.

From a business perspective, there is great potential for Russian businesses to steer the trend of Russian social media growth for their own use. As has been witnessed in other nations such as Japan and the United States. The problem which faces corporate and state owned businesses attempting to penetrate the social media market place is the same enigma that has occurred globally. Namely that social adaptation of these formats greatly exceeds corporate input into social media platforms. It has been noted that the companies who have gained the most success on these platforms are those which have adopted and invested into such formats. These companies have realised the value.

For Russian companies wishing to gain the same advantage, the question is whether they are willing to adapt and evolve with the trend in order to harness the potential of such social media formats and platforms.