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Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social networking platforms were blocked in Russia in early March. And monetization was removed from YouTube.
Users chose Instagram due to the variety of content submission forms, availability of masks and special effects that make it relatively easy to create native content. Moreover, the social networking platforms were especially popular among Russian bloggers and influencers, since the algorithms of the sites allowed high-quality content to receive a large organic reach relatively free of charge.
There have always been alternatives in Russia. VKontakte remains the largest social networking service. According to Brand Analytics, daily number of active Russian-speaking authors on VKontakte exceeded 3.5 million people in February-March 2022, increasing by approximately 500 thousand, and the number of posts reaches 14 million.
Over the same period of time, Odnoklassniki, a Russian social networking service, and Telegram messenger have significantly strengthened their positions. In Telegram, the number of authors per day have increased from half a million in early February to a million in March. The number of publications has grown from 6 million to 9 million. The number of authors in Odnoklassniki has also increased dramatically — from half a million to more than a million with a tendency to further growth.
Source: Brand Analytics, February-March 2022
The VKontakte Press Service reported in its official press release in the middle of March (after the news about Facebook and Instagram blocking in Russia) that daily audience on Vkontakte has grown by 8.7% - by 4 million. Now VKontakte is used by more than 50 million people a day — the social networking service has set a new record for the daily audience in Russia. Users create and consume more content, and also more often make friends - including through bringing their acquaintances to the platform.
Currently, the social networking service is used by more that 50 million people a day. The number of new friendships increased by 250%, users began to be added to friends tens of millions of times more often every day. Video views have increased by 15.5% for the month.
Many brands actively transfer their audience from Instagram to Telegram. However, it should be remembered that Telegram is a messenger and a large flow of information from various channels will quickly become annoying for users and lead to mass unsubscriptions. Therefore, we recommend brands to become familiar with VKontakte first of all. Yes, the algorithms of the site leave a lot to be desired, but they are closest to Instagram and the formation of the users' feed is as relevant to their interests as possible.
The key advantage of VKontakte over Telegram is the presence of targeted advertising with more capabilities for customization (than the same Instagram).
The main disadvantage of the social network was the lack of the possibility of promotion through influencers. Seeding of advertising content was possible only in public. However, now VKontakte creates favorable conditions for the growth and development of content creators. That, in combination with development of appropriate algorithms for the formation of a smart feed, may enable VKontakte to become a full-functional replacement for Instagram.
In March 2022, a record-breaking flow of users was also denoted on Odnoklassniki, another social networking service. Since the beginning of March 2022, the number of new registered accounts has increased by 66%, according to OK. Moreover, the social network service shows a dramatic growth in account recoveries (by 36% in early March) and users who have returned to more active social network management - by more than 40%.
In the current situation, it is important to quickly update the functionality and Odnoklassniki understands this like no one else. Therefore, the social network has launched a function that will allow you to share a link to your profile in Odnoklassniki in any messenger or social networking service in one click.
It should be mentioned that Odnoklassniki greatly increased over the pandemic period as well as commercial communities significantly grew at year-end 2020. And at the end of the last year, the management of the platform notified about the upgrade of algorithms in favor of prioritized delivery of content from communities in the user feed. For business, this means that switching to this platform will allow you to get organic coverage, and not just from advertising.
In any case, the paid promotion remains the main tool for the growth of the Odnoklassniki community audience. This social network service, as well as VKontakte, has great potential to launch targeted advertising.
The key feature of Odnoklassniki is that the audience is based on users 35+ and with an average income and above average. You should pay particular attention to this factor. If a brand is targeted at a young audience, it is hardly worth joining Odnokalassniki, but for brands, which are targeted at mature audience, this social network service can become the main alternative to Facebook and Instagram.
Source: Mediascope, Russia 0+, October 2021
After the news about the nearest blocking of Instagram, many bloggers, as well as brands, started active transfer of the audience to Telegram. For bloggers, unlike brands, Telegram may be more relevant today, since it also has the opportunity to post paid posts on their channels.
We recommend the brands consider four key matters before switching to Telegram that will enable them to assess the feasibility of creating a company channel in the messenger:
As we mentioned above, there is no targeted advertising in its traditional format on Telegram. The main promotion takes place through placement of paid advertising in already working channels. To promote your channel, you do not have to place advertising in channels of similar topics only. It is much more important to find channels with a relevant audience. To do this, it is important for a business to understand the associated interests of its target audience.
Besides the channels selection, it is important to pay particular attention to creativity and a advertising text. In the ideal case, a text should be adjusted depending on the style of content presentation by each separate channel. This is the only way to organize the most effective promotion.
Remember that business becomes successful mainly thanks to the product, not social networking services or messengers. Instagram is just a tool that will be successfully replaced by VKontakte on the Russian market, because, according to our estimates, if not all, but most of the audience will switch to this platform.
Each channel discussed in the article has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we recommend using them not separately, but to build multi-channel communication.
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About the Author
Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog