Mastering Vkontakte, Russia’s Most Popular Social Media Platform
I know you’re tired of hearing about Russia, okay? Trust me, I get that. But the advertising industry in Russia is alive and thriving and, as an agency, we have just entered the social media space there. Vkontakte is a social media site in Russia – and is the most popular platform there by far with over 70 million daily active users (there are about 10 million on Facebook) and 3 billion daily page views. Even though you’ve probably never heard of it – it’s 14th on Alexa’s Global Top 500 sites and is the 9th most popular site in the world.
With Russia about to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Vkontakte will quickly become a hot spot for brands looking to take advantage of the culture and hype of sports enthusiasts. It will also benefit you and your brand to become familiar with how the platform operates prior to the furor of launching a campaign!
The VK newsfeed – seem familiar?
First things first: the interface looks and acts almost exactly like Facebook where you may recognize most of the main features:
Messaging. VK Private Messages can be exchanged between groups of 1 to 30 people.
News. Follows the Facebook format – with hashtag and user mentions supported as well.
Communities. Groups are better suited for discussion boards. Public pages is a news feed used by celebrities and businesses. Events are used for setting up, well, events of course.
Like buttons. VK like buttons for posts operate slightly differently than Facebook. Liked content is saved in the private Favorites section – in order to share it with others or on your feed, you have to press a second ‘send with friends’ button to publish out.
Synchronization with other social networks. Any news published on VK can show up across all other social networks.
The most interesting feature, and the one that differs most drastically from other platforms:
Music subscriptions. “Music is an important part of life for VKontakte users,” said the VKontakte managing director in a press release.” VKontakte united people with different music tastes, giving them the opportunity to communicate, create thematic groups and spread their favorite music without limits.” Musicians can use VK for the promotion of their tracks by uploading them to their official VK pages. People like Shakira, Marilyn Manson, and The Offspring currently use the platform for this very feature. Users can choose between a subscription-based or free (ad-based) service to licensed labels.
I only have one friend on VK, okay?
If you’re looking to begin or grow your presence on the platform, there are a few nuances that may throw you off if you’re used to the Facebook set up.
Set up a group: Create your page where you can talk directly to your audience or target people with ads.
Try the paid post service: This feature allows influencers to post your content inside of their groups (for a fee). Content looks completely organic and comes from a trusted source, so these posts have much higher engagement rates than standard boosted posts.
Boosting posts: You can promote posts that live directly on your page to the whole VK site, with the options of targeting interests, CRM lists, ages, demographics and more.
Use Paypal for quickest approvals: If you are American-based, you may have trouble using the traditional methods of payment. Lines of credit will be nearly nonexistent and your credit card company may not allow Russian charges on your card (this I know from experience). We have found that PayPal is the easiest and fastest way to add funds to our account, with a caveat: you’ll only be able to add 15,000 rubles (about $250 USD) at a time. Wiring money will be the easiest way to get more money into your account at one time – if you have the ability to do that.
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Contrary to other countries, the Russian market does not care to emulate American culture and has its own unique trends. You should consider creating entirely new content for the Russian market instead of repurposing content that you already have for other geos. With Russia set to host the World Cup, getting familiar with the unique opportunities on Vkontakte will give your brand a leg up and position you to take advantage of a huge cultural moment on one of the biggest sites in the world.
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