Social Media Marketing in Russia - what's the difference between Facebook and Vkontakte?

Social Media Marketing in Russia – what’s the difference between Facebook and Vkontakte?

Are Social Media and Social Media Marketing in Russia different than in Western Europe? The main Russian Social Media platform, Vkontakte (short: VK) looks so much like Facebook that it is often called ‘the Russian Facebook’. Just like Facebook, Vkontakte has personal profiles, events, groups and business pages. With 70 million active users, and being the most popular website on the internet in Russia, Vkontakte is one of the most popular social networks in the world – and yet, its marketing potential in the West is often overlooked. Let’s see how Vkontakte differs from Facebook, and how you can use it for marketing your business.

social media in Russia postfity

Source: Whitepaper ‘DIGITAL MARKETING IN RUSSIA 2018’

Facebook vs Vkontakte

Facebook Vkontakte

Vkontakte launched in September 2006 as a university-website first, mirroring Facebook and its success in the US – the Russian social network quickly rose to fame, amassing 500 million accounts and 70 million active users since then. It is extremely popular not only in Russia, but also other Russian-speaking countries and former Soviet Union republics: Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Moldova.

The main differences between the platforms include:

  • VK API – the connectivity of Vkontakte with other social media like Facebook or Twitter via an API, allowing users to share posts cross-platform
  • VK – SMS service – the option to leave comments and reply to messages via SMS
  • VK Music – Users of Vkontakte can upload (and listen t0) audio files uploaded by other users, create playlists and share them with other VK users in their network. 
  • Vkontakte film streaming – VK users can watch full-length films and videos (including adult content) for free
  • Paid posts in groups (aka communities, as they are known on VK) and on fanpages – you can pay to advertise in Groups on VK .

Advertising on Vkontakte

advertising on vkontakte

Just like Facebook, VKontakte built its revenue model on advertising.

VK offers three main types of targeted ads:

  1. Targeted ads in left sidebar
  2. Sponsored posts in the newsfeed
  3. Paid posts in groups and fanpages

If you want to read an extensive guide to advertising on VK, refer to Konstantin Kanin’s post here.

Facebook vs Vkontakte – how to market on the platforms effectively (and boost organic reach)

While Facebook has been infamously slashing its organic reach (see how to boost your posts organic reach on Facebook here), Vkontakte seems to be a bit less strict with reducing organic reach, which makes it a really attractive marketing platfor. Having said that, VL also has an algorithm that you need to consider when posting on the platform to reach a wider audience.

In order to make your social media marketing efforts effective on Vkontakte, you should:

  • post only unique content – duplicate content from other pages gets penalized by Vkontakte
  • post the content format that your audience finds most engaging – based on previous stats
  • don’t post too often – 1-3 times a day is enough, VK now reduces the reach of ‘spammy’ communities that post too often
  • post high quality content – e.g. videos of at least 720p, photos at least 700px in width.
  • post content that encourages interaction – the more comments under the post, the higher organic reach it will have
  • don’t post only links (esp. to external sites) – make sure you include descriptions that accurately describe the link (with keywords) as well
  • post up-to-date content (about new, recent events or relevant trends)

Wanna read more about how to achieve success in marketing on VKontakte? Read this post.

Conclusions:

While Facebook and Vkontakte seem to share a lot of similarities in their core social networking functionality, VK seems to have a few more functions that increase its stickiness (e.g. music and video streaming and file sharing services) as well as a more ‘forgiving’ algorithm for business pages. Hence, if at least part of your target audience lives in Russia or post-Soviet countries, Vkontakte is a social media platform you must include in your marketing strategy.

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