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Countries in Crosshairs: Review of Russian Language Publics in Social Media

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The analysis of social media pages of key actors in a certain field lets brands not only learn their competitors better but also monitor their digital marketing activity or even sometimes snoop some interesting ideas for the promotion of their business. Tourism is not an exception. Previously, we have already made an analysis of the two largest air ticket search websites in Russia, Aviasales and Skyscanner. Today, we will zero in on official pages of travel destinations presented in social media.

On the review list, there are VK official pages of countries out of Top 30 destinations that were popular among Russian tourists in 2019. This being said, we considered only pages related immediately to travel offices (we did not consider pages of embassies of foreign countries).

First of all, note that the selection represents travel destinations aimed at different target audiences (yes, everyone is interested in Russian tourists, but at the same time Finland is unlikely to be seen as a direct competitor of the Dominican Republic), that is why the manner and matter of the content, as well as its presentation varies from country to country. In this regard, we will not evaluate communities strictly by certain criteria but will try to snoop and highlight some icings on the cake or, where possible, notice some failures of travel brands.

We will be looking through the pages in several ways:

  • Quantity and quality of subscribers in groups;
  • Subscribers’ engagement rate;
  • Feedback in comments;
  • Content.

Quantity and quality of subscribers

Although Turkey leads among Russian tourists in travelling statistics, UAE became the most popular country in VKontakte (more specifically, an official page of Dubai). The silver and bronze are won by the Dominican Republic and Thailand respectively. Turkey has taken the 6th place only.

Number of official subscribers of VK pages as of March 12, 2019

Here is a fly in the ointment: most pages need to review their lists of subscribers and clear them from ‘dogs’ (this is how blocked users are called in VK). To determine this rate, we used a special service to scan VK groups for ‘dogs’, or AntiDogs (for these purposes, you can also use a VK app «Поиск «мертвых» участников и подписчиков» (Rus. Search for Dead Followers and Subscribers).

The anti-leader of this rating turned out to be Cyprus, followed by the Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic. Note that the presence of ‘dogs’ in a group takes a toll on its promotion and search results in VK. We would like to stress it for representatives of the pages where this rate exceeds 10% (this threshold is seen as critical and it is better not to exceed it).

Percentage of ‘dogs’ on VK pages as of March 12, 2019, according to AntiDogs

Subscribers’ engagement rate

We are going to evaluate ER on the basis of the general reach of posts from early March (from March 1 until March 12) and the number of responses to them (comments, likes, and reposts).

Here we should keep in mind that official social media pages have very different numbers of posts published within the period and, along with them, different average post reach indicators.

We would like to note once again that the lowest reach rates in the range of 1-2% are shown by those very pages with the largest number of blocked users in groups.

Feedback in comments

Unfortunately, here we could not single out a page that could be held up as an example for others. Usually, page administrators either respond in 1-2 days or just neglect comments of users that are already infrequent enough.

Social media pages are, first of all, communities that mean communication and feedback. We prepared several recommendations concerning communication with followers in social media comments (particularly in VKontakte):

1. Respond promptly. One, much less two days for a reply is too long for social media. Reply to comments at least twice a day (for example, in the morning and in the evening) or, even better, turn on notification to monitor all comments (you can find it on the menu page on the right).

2. Do not keep silence. Not all followers’ sayings definitely require attention and response, but we would recommend to keep up the talk, especially with the tourists interested. For instance, in this case, it would be possible to offer the follower other event options or tell why the festival is worth visiting again this year.

3. Do not ignore positive comments. As the saying goes, love should not be all on one side. If someone wrote a positive comment about your country, just thank the subscriber—sometimes a friendly emoticon is enough for that.

4. Handle negative comments and concerns of your followers. Most often, SMM experts already have scripts with the answers prescribed to respond to negative comments. But when these are contextual and not very nice comments, like ones related to the coronavirus, try to provide a follower with adequate information about the situation in the country.

Ideally, you need to monitor messages about your brand not only on your pages but also in social media in general. Media monitoring will let you clutch every single mention of your brand in the media.

Content

As for posting frequency, every country has its own vision. In VKontakte, everyday posting is considered optimal for brand pages (2 posts a day on average). Here pages of the Dominican Republic and the Czech Republic, as well as Dubai and Greece are worth noting as they generally keep to the optimal posting frequency.

As for publication formats, the main one for the countries is a picture plus a small text: resorts, landmarks, food, people. The Dubai page blends in, with high quality video being the bulk of its content.

It is also worth noting that, for example, Finland is widely represented in VK by official pages of its regions that are maintained much more actively, having various content from movies in Finnish to competitions and national recipes, as well as active followers.

One would think that in the current situation every country should actively use situational marketing. The spread of coronavirus, and with it the cancellation of many mass events in countries, the situation with the disease rates, measures that different countries take combating its spread etc.—all these issues had better be given publicity on their pages so that, firstly, users could feel that you care about them and, secondly, this is an opportunity for some countries to smooth over panic and try to help tourists not return tickets for a refund but at least postpone their trip for a later date.

But, in fact, the Czech Republic turned out to be one of few countries that informed their social media followers about the events cancelled because of COVID-19.

Read more on how else you can diversify content on social media pages and otherwise in our article Ideas for Content Marketing: What Attracts Russian Travelers.

Recommendations

For travel brands, social media are one of the key channels to promote their travel destination and an active channel of communication with the target audience. If you decided to use all opportunities of social media to attract Russian tourists, RMAA Travel experts will help you create an effective marketing strategy and implement it in the Russian market.

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About the Author

Marketing Director, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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