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One of the main trend in the Internet marketing worldwide nowadays is to use social media marketing (SMM) as a B2B-marketing tool. Currently the usage of social networks as a marketing tools quite popular in Russia, in particular – as a channel of interaction with a target audience of consumers. Companies that use social networks can increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, attract target audience, push up sales and perform other actions allowing them to achieve the main objective - to increase profits.
Marketers who plan to promote projects on social networks in Russia, face the problem of choosing a platform - Vkontakte, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube? All of them have unique opportunities and some drawbacks. So, what kind of social network will be the most convenient for B2B-segment and will bring the greatest benefits? Almost all of popular networks provide professionals with unique opportunities for promoting their business. However, not all of them are effective for promotion in Russia. Let's talk about popular social networks in Russia and review what kind of social networks are the best for B2B projects.
Social networks in Russia
Vkontakte is the most popular social network in Russia, according to TNS (December, 2017). Its audience - 41.1 million people, it is the second most visited site in Russia, the number of users is more than 220 million people. Second place - Odnoklassniki (27 million people). This Russian social network has more than 210 million accounts and its popularity is slightly lower than popularity of Vkontakte. As of December 2017 the audience of Facebook in April was 21.7 million people, Moi Mir (Mail.ru) had 9.1 million people, the audience of Instagram was 16 million people. Learn more about up-to-date statistics here.
However, in this article we will not focus on Russian social networks, despite of their high audience ratings, because even though the audience is numerous, we believe that international social networks are the most effective for B2B sector. VK and Odnoklassniki are entertainment social networks and their audience not ready to business dialogue. On the other hand, it should be taken into account that if your budget allows it, promotion in VKontakte can bear fruit.
So, let's talk about popular social networks in Russia in the context of using them for marketing B2B projects in order to determine the most profitable platforms for the promotion.
Social network LinkedIn has been blocked in Russia in 2016, after a court found the company guilty of violating local data storage laws. So currently Linkedin can`t be used as an effective marketing b2b channel in Russia.
LinkedIn - world's most popular business social network. This social network for professionals is one of the most convenient platforms for implementing marketing campaigns.You can quickly find potential customers in B2B segment, as this resource was developed for business communication. Therefore, it is natural, that most foreign marketers who plan to promote their business on social networks in Russia think of LinkedIn before others. However, LinkedIn is excluded from the most popular platforms in Runet. The number of Russian-speaking audience of the platform barely reaches one million users, and the number is quite small.
Just like in other social networks, you can set up payment for targeted advertising per impressions or per clicks in LinkedIn. The following parameters are available to target the audience on LinkedIn:
Let’s consider an example of work of Severstal, Russian B2B company, in Linkedin. Severstal is a Russian company mainly operating in the steel and mining industry. As of 2009, it is the largest steel company in Russia according to the Metal Bulletin. Basic information about the company, as well as news in Linkedin are in English, it is understandable - company uses this account for the promotion on the Western market. More than 7,600 people track company’s page. Users actively "like" company news. Content of the page is made and is adapted for Linkedin’s users. The only cons - there are no videos and infographic is rather poor (such kind of content can generate high interest of audience for"steel production" industry).
Google+ active audience has 540 million people; about 80 million of them speak Russian. From this perspective, Google’s social network is the most eye-catching and is second only to Facebook.
A significant advantage of Google+ is the highest level of confidence from search engine Google, the second most popular search engine in Russia. Links from Google+ influence ranking, so Russian Google will rank your site higher if you have links to Russian Google+. For this purpose, you can provide your content with almost any kind of information, including video - YouTube is operated by Google and its videos have good indexation.
Google+ supports business pages. Users can interact on a personal level and arrange private subscriptions with such pages, and marketers get the opportunity to build relationships with their audience.Targeted advertising in the social network is not for everyone, only pages of brands and companies that meet the following criteria can use it:
Nevertheless, Google+ has its disadvantages as well. Foremost, it’s a high share of entertainment content in the social network. Many Russian users of Google+ ignore business messages, and it lowers its value for marketers. Moreover, businessmen do not tend to enter the network, that was considered as an outsider for too long. Google should put additional resources in its development, before it will be able to get rid of these problems and will turn into operating business tool.
Microblogging service Twitter is the simplest way to quickly deliver an important message. This network allows users to communicate with the help of short messages and to link to important pages. It’s hard to call it a full-fledged platform for the promotion, but it is the best in increasing awareness and it allows you to publish information at maximum speed. At the beginning of 2015, Twitter showed a 13% decline in popularity and now ranks 7th among the most popular social networks in Russia. Russian-speaking audience of Twitter - 7.4 million people.
As for advertising on Twitter, advertisers can target their ads using geo-targeting and device targeting only, whether it is a mobile phone or a PC. Advertisers pay only for the tweets that were retweeted or commented by others.
Twitter does not belong to Google, and it is a con. Since a link to content, that was posted on Twitter, in most cases has a lower rank than a similar publication on Google+. Also, compared to the audience of other networks, Twitter users in Russia more often ignore messages. Lately, service suffers nothing less than a disaster - it’s overloaded with spam links, so it reduces the value of tweets for users and marketers.
Video is the simplest and the most understandable kind of content. In terms of B2B-marketing campaigns, it can be an extremely effective promotional tool. Of all the video sharing services, only YouTube has high-quality indexation and allows to edit video after the upload completes. In addition, YouTube - leading Russian video hosting with 32 million audience. 60% of users, who saw ad on YouTube, continue to communicate with the brand in the future.
Video posted on YouTube, can be embedded to any blog or website. Therefore, you use this video hosting only as a service and work with customers and users in a different place - in corporate site or in social network.
The largest social network in the world is the best platform for B2C-marketing, but faith in B2B campaign success is much lower. It is in vain - thematic groups and strong business pages make B2B-marketing quite simple and effective here. According to statistics (April, 2015), Facebook is ranked third in popularity among social networks in Russia and Russian-speaking audience of this platform - 24.5 million people. Moreover, there is record audience involvement not only on such personal pages, as accounts of deputies, but alsoon corporate pages of companies in Facebook.
In addition to traditional ways of carrying out advertising campaigns in social networks - promotion of publications, pages, Facebook also offers advertisers a promotion to get "likes". Thus, depending on the purpose, an advertiser pays for “like”, or for impressions or for. Targets that can be used in Facebook:
Let’s consider an example of work of Russian brand – Rusal. Rusal is the world's largest aluminium company. Company completes its activity on Facebook page with interesting photo reports directly from factories, reports from charity events, highlights industry historical dates, scopes of aluminum, description of culture of indigenous Arctic and Siberian ethnic groups, photographs of Siberian beauty - all these materials attract a large number of subscribers. 3,235 users like this page by now. There are also many positive feedbacks about the company. Content of Facebook page can easily be placed in any printed media, but it is not adopted to the features of perception of social network users. There are no infographics,no popular hashtags, no video, that work great in socialnetworks. Content of Rusal group is interesting to consume, but people do not want to share it. It’s a con of the page.
Based on the above stated, we can conclude that the best social network for B2B marketing in Russia is Facebook. As it’s a very useful platform that have rich functionality, allowing you to implement almost any marketing strategy, and it’s ranked third in popularity among social networks in Russia. However, having an active presence on Facebook is not enough. Do not forget about LinkedIn. Despite its low popularity in Russia, this world's most popular business social network fights for Russian-speaking users and is gradually gaining momentum, what is more – this is the only platform with a focus on business promotion and establishment of business contacts. All the above mentioned do not allow us to ignore this platform. In the great variety of social resources, Twitter and Google+ hold their ground and remain among the key players in the Russian market. The active presence on these networks gives B2B companies access to tremendous scale. We also advise to use YouTube as a supplemental network resource for promotion in Russia. Therefore, it’s necessary to work will all these platforms when promoting projects, but if you're constantly running out of time, then focus on one or two networks.
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About the Author
Vadim Tylik – Russian entrepreneur, Founder and President of the RMAA Group. Vadim helps foreign companies to develop and implement marketing strategies in Russia and CIS region, create performance based media campaigns in order to expand more effectively on the Russian market.