Meet Vkontakte: Russia’s Biggest Social Network

Generations of Russians continue to be shaped by a platform little heard of outside of the world’s largest country. Vkontakte/ Вконтакте literally translates to, ‘to be in touch’. Otherwise known as VK, it’s Russia’s largest and most popular social network, with the RuNet generation spending more than 2 hours on it daily. 24% of users are under 18, with the majority belonging to the 18-34 demographic. Almost 70% write at least one post per month.

How is VK Different to Facebook?

Interestingly Facebook, Vkontakte’s closest western counterpart, ranks as only the 4th most used platform in Russia.  Although VK’s interface looks remarkably similar to that of Facebook, it provides a far greater infiltration into the everyday life of its users from a marketing perspective.

Notable differences include:

  • VK pay is a branch of user accounts that allow for the purchase of food, tickets, and even the booking of GP visits all with one social media account. Though not dissimilar to the Chinese social media giant WeChat, it varies hugely from Facebook.
  • The annual VK sponsored and founded summer open-air music festival ‘VK Fest’, held in the St. Petersburg Headquarters. Tickets bought through VK boasted 85,000 festival-goers last year, as well as another 1.5 million worldwide watching events streamed live on VK.
  • The VK shop selling VK merchandise from branded t-shirts, to phone cases and duvet covers.
  • VK tools are also in place for B2B marketing. There is a vast opportunity for e-commerce and the ability to install applications within a fun, engaging page and community setting integrated into the platform.
  • Videos and music make up a far more significant percentage of organic content on VK newsfeeds than for Facebook users. A successful video can reach up to 400M views in a day. Poorly made and unaesthetically pleasing videos without sound and/or lasting over 10-20 seconds are reported as the most unsuccessful.

How to Advertise on VK

VK provides more than 20 variations of targeting tools. These include:

  1. Sidebar targeted adverts. This allows for specific user identification and targeting from a diverse list of options: from demographic range or faculty/community to the more unusual ‘travellers’- those who browse VK from other countries. The advert creator is then able to choose between PPC or Pay per impression.
  2. Sponsored newsfeed posts. This involves the same ability to change target settings but requires an existing community such as a fan page or group event to create one. Advertisers can also specify where and how the advert will be shown on VK desktop, tablet and/or mobile app. A sponsored newsfeed post also allows for multiple formats, not only photos and headlines but advert carousels and videos, for example.
  3. Buying posts on VK communities. An unusual aspect of VK is the third option to purchase posts across a huge number of popular communities on a diverse range of topics followed by millions of users. This can be done either via an internal advertising account or an external provider. The creator can choose between a ‘normal post’ designed to look like it was published by the owner of a community, or a ‘repost/shared post’ of one that already exists. Advertisers are also able to choose the specific time, date and duration of the release. The community owner also has the right to accept or ignore requests.

For companies outside Russia, payment for advertisements can be done individually or via cooperation with an agency or advertising platform contractually signed to VK.

Interestingly, if VK is used in any one of its 70+ language options other than the default languages of Russian or Ukrainian, very few advertisements will be seen in comparison to the default Russian display. In this way, it is important that companies wanting to expand and market to Russia have a solid grasp of the vast array of possibilities that VK offers. At Locaria, we believe that VK’s reach should not be underestimated. We understand the importance of organic and paid social media marketing, and can help you localise and expand your business to Russian markets and beyond. Find out more about our international social media marketing services today.

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