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Brand Ambassador: How to Work with Opinion Leaders in the Russian Market



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As a first step, let us find out who are opinion leaders. In fact, they are popular people whom we often see on TV, in magazines, newspapers, and movies. However, while only 15 years ago there were only celebrities, now, thanks to globalization and popularization of social media we got new opinion leaders (influencers, trendsetters) such as viners and bloggers. As for the Russian media market, the trend of media placement through influencers keeps gaining steam.

People pay attention to banners and direct ads more and more seldom, but they tune in to opinion leaders.

Bloggers are popular, their opinions are given ear to, and they cause a stir and attract audience. They also have a gust of the market environment and, what is important for brands, are ready to share their influence on the audience.

An opinion leader is not only a mirror of our brand’s values, but also an information channel. That is why there are special requirements to a blogger’s choice—let us talk about them.

How To Find a Diamond

Sometimes marketers choose an opinion leader out of those people about whom they know themselves. As a rule, these are already very famous and expensive bloggers.

In order to choose an opinion leader in VK, Instagram, LJ in Russia, one can use various services that let find bloggers by means of different filters and, by doing so, not only get a list of popular trendsetters, but also learn dynamics of activities on their pages.

However, there is one more method (‘manual’), which can be nicely used to look for bloggers with a small number of subscribers.

The idea is to find a person in social media by means of hashtags, who regularly mentions a brand or an area of activity where the brand operates and then to evaluate quality of his/her publications and audience response. If this blogger has a number of subscribers that is of interest for you, you can engage him/her into brand promotion.

Such searches can lead to quite interesting opinion leaders who are not even aware of the level of their influence and do not look at their potential from the commercial point of view. Working with such people, on the one hand, is profitable as they did not let stardom go to their heads yet and will not ask for too high remuneration. But, on the other hand, they are not professional bloggers and there is a risk that something might go wrong with practical arrangements.

Audience Correlation: Perfect Match Is Not a Must

A blogger usually majors in certain themes: fashion, sports, food, maternity, gadgets… A brand chooses a blogger whose interests can touch the company’s activity. For example, you sell kitchen appliances. It is logical to invite a blogger majoring in theme of cooking. But the devil is in the detail: make sure that his video will have scenes of a kitchen where you can install your appliance.

The sociodemographic image has already ceased to be a key parameter for targeting. However, there are goods and services that are consumed at a particular age and in particular living conditions. Then brand managers look for an opinion leader whose image and view of life concords with the brand’s audience.

But there is a fresh trend—a light dissonance of a blogger with target audience to cause raised eyebrows with their choice. For example, let us take a recent case of collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton. It would be logical to invite Pharaoh or Dasha Malygina, but the brand involved Russian celebrities Philipp Kirkorov (2,8 million subscribers), Evgeni Plushchenko (0,5 million subscribers), Yana Rudkovskaya (2,1 million subscribers), and Maxim Galkin (4,6 million subscribers) and got its money’s worth.

The choice of an opinion leader in B2B is more conservative: a blogger must be an authority in your area. In this case, marketers ask themselves the following questions:

  • Does an opinion leader present at industry conferences?
  • Does he/she have publications in relevant mass media?
  • Does he/she have industry awards?

Our experience shows that for promotion it is much more effective for a B2B segment to use specialized publics and pages in VK and Instagram and to replace influencer publications with articles in field-specific mass media. Still, everything is case by case and depends on the audience of a particular business.

Audience Size: Coverage

The audience is measured by the number of opinion leader subscribers. Size expectations should be associated with the segment where you work—B2B or B2C. B2C blogger audience will be wider than one of a B2B blogger. When you also have a specific corporate niche, be prepared that the audience of your blogger will not exceed 10 thousand. What number of subscribers will satisfy you in this case is up to you to decide.

Here is a more or less optimal amount of followers to choose a blogger in a B2C segment:

  • Twitter — 10 000 +
  • Facebook — 20 000 +
  • Instagram — 50 000 +
  • YouTube — 100 000 +

Audience Engagement

Engagement rate (or ER) is one of the most important criteria to evaluate a blogger. This parameter will let you know how active the blogger’s audience is.

However, there can be some pitfalls, too: one can come across a blogger with fake-generated audience, likes, and comments. What is to be done? Choose several posts and evaluate quality of comments: if they are on the subject and not like ‘nice picture!’, ‘great profile!’, and other widespread phrases, then you can be 99% sure about the quality of the blogger’s audience.

Besides, the coverage is affected by post regularity: choose bloggers who publish posts daily.

Creativity in Paid Posts

Relationship between a blogger and a brand should look harmonious, that is why an opinion leader must nicely integrate advertising materials into its content. Look at the blogger’s posts with the reference to brands and how he/she conveys information, whether he/she reacts on comments, how he/she works with the negative (if yes) and how his/her audience actually reacts on such ‘native’ ads.

Ideally, a blogger must not only place an advertising post on his/her page, but also convince users that it is purely his/her initiative and he/she tested quality of the advertised product/service him-/herself.


The price depends on the channel, ‘star’ level, and promotion tricks: pictures, video, attendance of an event, ambassadorship. Bloggers’ demands may vary from 5,000 to 50,000,000 million rubles.

Russian bloggers prefer to work against full or partial prepayment and for cash. CPS (cost per sale) or barter are treated by Russian bloggers extremely negatively. That is why this factor must be taken into account when discussing terms of cooperation.

Bloggers’ Ads Efficacy Evaluation

It is quite hard to evaluate efficacy. As a rule, bloggers do not give any warranties. That is why, when it comes to cooperation with opinion leaders, we recommend going to agencies—only they will manage to choose bloggers wisely for certain goals of your project.

The main goals of cooperation with bloggers come down to the following:

  • market launch of a new product,
  • increase of brand awareness,
  • access to a new target audience,
  • increase of brand loyalty,
  • sales.

KPI achieved can be counted by means of promo codes, sales check record, increase of the number of subscribers to the brand’s account upon the blogger’s recommendation, the number of contest participants and such.

How Do You Understand That Your Brand Needs Influencer Marketing?

There are several situations when a blogger will do better than ads in the Internet and on TV:

  • A brand has an objective to win hearts of a new, narrower audience segment (especially if it is young audience). The right choice of opinion leaders will let you engage the target accurately and reach the desired audience.
  • A product or a brand is new and, consequently, smells fishy. Consumers usually either ignore such products or defer to opinions of other people and only then make their choice. An opinion leader will help overcome the audience’s suspicions.
  • You are promoting a complicated product, such as a smartphone or a medicine. Before choosing, a buyer needs to read a lot of reviews and take all features into consideration. When an expert (blogger) estimated and tested everything him-/herself, it is much easier to make a decision.
  • You have to tell about intimate hygiene, contraception, sores, and other uneasy topics. A woman will rather consider an opinion of her favorite celebrity than a song from an ad about ‘lady time’.

Case: #peperogameru

Client: Lotte Confectionery manufactures and sells various confectionery products in South Korea and internationally. It offers chewing gums, chocolates, biscuits, ice-creams, pies, snacks, candies, and breads. The company is based in Seoul, South Korea.

Marketing challenges for «Pepero» sticks in Russia:

  • Build brand awareness;
  • Attract audience to the product;
  • Educate the audience in Russia about popular Korean game – Pepero Game.

Solution: Encouragement of people to participate in #Peperogameru contest. This is a game where a couple eats a Pepero sweet stick from both ends and finally kisses. Popular bloggers and Internet celebrities took part in #Peperogameru and appealed to their subscribers to join the game.

RMAA Group has involved 4 bloggers and 1 famous actress to promote Pepero Game competition.

Anna Khilkevich (8,1 million subscribers) and her husband created a video for our promotion. This video was watched by more than 2,3 million people.

By the end of competition we had more than 5000 followers (both VK and Instagram), more than 200 participants and thousands of likes, views and comments. The winners were selected randomly. Russian audience was very fond of Pepero Game and impressed a big interest to Korean culture.

Case: #невстрессе (#nostress )

This is quite an example of a complicated product—a case of promotion of Tenoten, an antianxiety agent, in the most vivacious social media. Women who experience stress in family and at work see happy people without any problems and troubles in Instagram. The campaign’s objective is to show by examples of celebrities that everyone can have troubles, but it is possible to cope with them.

The campaign’s goals and the project’s objectives:

  • to cover new audience;
  • to produce a buzz effect;
  • to show target audience that stress is OK.

Celebrities: Olga Buzova (14,3 million subscribers), Elena Letuchaya (1,3 million subscribers), Anna Semenovich (1,7 million subscribers), Evelina Blodans (1,2 million subscribers).

Several successful women are best to make a point: everyone has troubles, even stars, stress is normal, while the fact that they are not similar to each other serves the first goal of the campaign—coverage of new audience. Each star has its own group of subscribers.

In the daytime, stars post pictures of minor troubles and incidents, which usually frustrate people, in their accounts and put a #невстрессе hashtag,

and in the evening they write positive posts where they tell how they brought their matters under control and how Tenoten helped them to do so.

Performance indicators: as a result of the campaign, 6 million people watched publications, with 1.9 million out of them being the target audience. The posts collectively got 300 thousand like and 8 thousand comments.


The best way to tell about yourself today in the Russian market is do it through a person whom people trust—a blogger. If you are interested in publications with Russian trendsetters but do not know where to start from, send us a message and we will choose bloggers from the perspective of peculiarities of your business!

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About the Author

Digital marketing manager, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Group Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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