Russia and Facebook #truMoscow
I’m just back from Russia after hosting #truMoscow. It is interesting to spend time in a country talking to recruiters where Facebook is not the dominant channel. According to ComScore, the top 3 social media channels in Russia are:
“ #1: VK.com Russia’s fourth-most-used website has around 120 million accounts, is popular (and controversial) for its integrated file-sharing – and bears a striking resemblance to Facebook. A kind of mash up between Facebook and MySpace.
#2 Odnoklassniki Russia’s Classmates site used for keeping in touch with current classmates and alumni. Similar in concept to European network Friends Reunited.
Lurking in-channel leads to getting involved in the social features like sharing, liking, commenting, and adding original content. Social engagement leads to experimenting with social games like Farmville and Cityville. This leads to increased time in-channel and a widening of the scale and scope of connections through engagement. It was interesting to note that while a channel like Twitter was hardly used by any of the participants at #truMoscow, image-sharing application Instagram (owned by Facebook) was hugely popular. This perhaps the way Russians access the internet. The use of mobile applications is larger than desk-based web access. This reflects the emerging internet nations, who have bypassed desktop and gone straight to mobile applications. It is worth noting that where people access Facebook via mobile, user views are different, device targeting is possible, and Sponsored Stories* ads give the best returns.ComScore ranks Russians as the most prolific users of social networks according to time spent in-channel and number of posts and updates. It is going to be interesting to see the rate at which users are switching their time from the domestic channels over to Facebook, or if they remain loyal to the established local channels. The indications of the last 2.5 years is that Facebook is gaining momentum, similar to its growth in other countries in the region such as Romania and Hungary.
The pattern of growth witnessed in these nations begins with a very social and personal focus, usually among the younger demographic. It is interesting to note that the top channel, VK.com, launched in the same way as Facebook: making access possible from college to college before opening up to anyone. Our experience of how Facebook use grows and changes shows 3 distinct patterns:
The early stages where users are joining out of curiosity and connecting with family and friends who might not be using the other social channels. The early days in a new channel are marked by a flurry of activity, such as connection requests to friends from other channels. New users take a “viewing” approach: less posting and updates while getting a feel for the channel and how it works.
- Brand following
In the early days, connections are largely personal and interactions are genuinely social. The more involved a user becomes in the channel and the more connections they make, the better Facebook gets to know them. The more familiar the channel is with the user, the more relevant the suggested Pages, ads, and Sponsored Stories are. This leads to more likes and connecting and engaging with brands, including career pages.
We have witnessed continued growth of users and time in-channel in established nations where Facebook is the principle channel. The next stage of growth sees users integrating the channel into every area of their life, from social and recreational, to shopping and careers. There is an even split between social, gaming and professional interactions. This can be considered the “life channel” stage of growth. Looking at these growth patterns in Facebook, I would position the Russian market at the social/gaming stage, as reflected by user behaviors and the popularity of Instagram. It is worth noting that the established channel VK.com has little if any professional data, and that less than 1% of Russian internet users have LinkedIn profiles. As Facebook matures, driven by social features and interaction, there is a great opportunity for employment branding and recruiting through the use of Pages, engaging content, and connection/application in-channel. It is important to remember that this is an audience connecting through mobile applications, rather than open web, and that posts/updates will need to be in the domestic language. This is ideal for a combination of the SalesForce owned BuddyMedia pages, which enable filtering of page content by local content/language only according to the visitor’s IP address, and Work4’s Social Recruiting Solutions. Interesting times!
*ED’s NOTE: Sponsored Stories are a type of Facebook ad that appear as a recommendation from a friend. This can be a recommendation of a Page, event, or post to “like” based on the user and his friend’s mutual interests.
This post was written by Matteo Batazzi