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    Posts Tagged ‘Vkontakte’

    Social Media in Russia: different dimension again

    Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    It seems like social media in Russia is a place for opposition to express its political views. And the closer it gets to the elections (4th of March), the more anti- and pro-Putin activity we see there. One of the most active platforms is of course blogosphere, where numerous bloggers from both sides attract thousands of readers. However, hackers from Anonymous have recently hacked the mailboxes of the 2 leaders from pro-Kremlin youth organization Rosmolodezh; and the leakage of emails revealed some unexpected facts about how the agiotage in blogosphere is being created. Kristina Potupchik, the press spokesman of the organization, was also responsible for attracting and remunerating people (simple users as well as quite famous bloggers) who wrote posts, comment, and discussions supporting the existing ruling party. Corruption also flourished there; judging by the content of emails which is now in the news, some people were complaining that they did not get any money, although it was planned in the budget. For example, blogger Ilya Varlamov should have been paid 400K Rubles (8.6K British pounds) for his 2 blog posts about Vladimir Putin and United Russia, but he didn’t get any money. However in the interview to BBC he claims that he never writes pro-government or “paid for” blog posts.

    The opposition, however, uses social media more like a place to inform people about the upcoming protest events, as well as to inspire people to demand the fair election procedure during the 4th of March. The closest event will be on the 26th of February, when protestants plan to make a huge live circle around Kremlin. The web page is in Russian, unfortunately, but you can see the map which indicates the place where the protestants will stand. Here is an article from Moscow Times about the event.

    Now it is about 1.5 weeks until the elections and we are really interested in how the events will develop further in social media as well as in official press.

    Related blog posts:

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    Social media: how to expand wisely?

    Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    Expanding to a different social media network is in a way similar to entering a new geographic market: cultural differences, different tastes and shopping habits, different advertising rules… But what I have recently noticed is that many companies just “copy-paste” their activity from one social network to another, obviously thinking that there is no point to waste resources on diversifying content. I will try to explain why each social network should be regarded as a different market, taking as an example Vkontakte, the local Russian social network.

    Is It Facebook? Or is it not?

    Vkontakte is 6th most visited social network in Russia, while Facebook is on the 8th place. As for audience demographics, there is approximately 56.2 million of men, and 48.5 million of women, which is roughly 50/50. Most people are under 35 years old, with the majority of them being undergraduates and senior pupils. Being an active user of both networks, I can tell that people use them for different purposes, and you shouldn’t assume by default that each “Facebook-type” social network is indeed similar to Facebook.

    So what do they do there?

    As for the tastes, for example, most-visited groups in Vkontakte are those which are devoted to funny pictures and videos, and a popular Russian humoristic TV show. Seems like Russian people value a good laugh. To compare, top-Facebook pages are about celebrities and Facebook itself. I looked at the activity of about 10 local brands in Vkontakte, and understood that Russian people need a couple of key-ingredients in their social life: interaction and sincerity. The most successful and active pages in Vkontakte are those which have a lot of options for people to ask questions, upload photos, interact with administrators (and yes, you almost always know their names and can see their profiles!). This is supported by the fact that Groups are more popular than Pages in Vkontakte, which means that people want to express themselves and interact with each other in the first place, rather than simply follow the updates of a brand on its Page.

    Companies which expanded wisely

    Now let’s look at the companies, which, to my mind, understood the differences between Vkontakte and other social media networks. One of them is good-old Coca-Cola, which almost always manages to leave a great impression with its social media. Here, in Vkontakte, it created a cozy place, where people answer all sorts of polls, discuss various topics (how much does the bottle of Coke costs in your city?), play games, and exchange jokes in the comments. I can understand why groups are more popular here: I have spent about 10 minutes reading all sorts of things in the group of Coca-Cola…Now back to my blog post : ).

     

    The next company which I liked was Clearasil. The brand itself is skin-care cosmetics, and they managed to create exactly the right type of activity for their target audience, teenagers and young people. People write poems there (St. Valentine’s day contest); upload funny pictures (similar to 9GAG); and ask all sorts of out-of-the-blue questions (like “Who should call first, guy or a girl?”).

    Ok, what should I do?

    Next time your company wants to expand its social media presence, think about the following points:

    1. Is it social media worth trying? Or maybe it will be overtaken by Facebook in a year or less.
    2. What are the demographics of the network? Is it your target market?
    3. Google the examples of brands which use this network. What are their methods, are they successful?
    4. Spend some time looking at profiles and other pages. What do people like and how do they behave?

     

    Do you have big local social media networks in your country? Have you considered using them in your business?

    Democracy is in action

    Posted on: December 12th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    We have written a blog post about a famous Russian blogger Alexey Navalny, and his battle against the corruption among Russian governmental authorities and corporations, which is largely done by the means of social media. Today we want to share more insights on it, in the light of the elections in Russia. In the country where there is only one independent elections observer organization, social media’s role gradually started to shift from providing entertainment to spreading the information which otherwise would be shut by local media and press.

    The parliamentary elections which were held a week ago showed that the governing party United Russia this time barely won a half of the votes, 49.5%, comparing with the last election’s result of 64%. Being fed up with the ruling party, which failed to deliver its pre-election promises, the population decided to fight against it with its own means. Being sure that the new elections will be falsified, Navalny in his blog provided very clear instruction on what should each responsible voter do in order not to let United Russia to win as many votes as possible. As the blog post is in Russian, here I will translate the main points:

    • Personal appeal is the most effective way of agitation! Choose at least 5 people who take your opinion seriously and ask them to vote for any party, but not United Russia
    •  Print any of the anti-UR posters and put them around your house, when you go for a walk in the evening
    • Send via Skype and emails any anti-party videos. There are plenty of them in the Youtube.

    The instructions were quite popular. The blog post generated more than 2000 comments, 1000 of shares in Facebook and more than 2500 in Vkontakte, as well as 480 Tweets and 407 “+1” in Google+.

    Moreover, there was announced a contest for a best song against the United Russia party, and the prizes were not bad: the first place got 3600 EUR! The page with the contest got 18.5 millions views in a several weeks.

    The voting process also wasn’t overlooked by the social media activists. There were numerous abuses recorded, which included the filling in the ballots for the absent voters, and so called “carrousel”, when large groups of people vote in different places with the fake documents. While the Western newspapers and independent observers were writing about these videos, the president Dmitry Medvedev denied their legitimacy and described the elections as “honest, fair, and democratic”. Meanwhile, there is a Youtube channel devoted to the cheating in the elections recorded by various volunteer observers. This video tells the story how the ballots appeared to be filled in before the official beginning of the elections (turn on the interactive English subtitles under the video on the right, if you look from the Youtube page):

    The next one is unofficial video shot in one of the schools, which was a voting place. In the beginning of the video someone holds a pack of ballots, seemingly just removed from the ballot box, and stacked neatly one on top of the other, as if being put all by one person (and all were marked for United Russia).

     

    “Democracy is in action”, said Mr. Medvedev after the initial results of the voting were announced, when United Russia had just under 50% of the votes. Perhaps the population of Russia gives this phrase a rather different meaning, when flooding social media with the blogs, videos, comments, and campaigns against the ruling party.

     

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    Groups vs Fan Pages on Vkontakte

    Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. 5 Comments

    Recently, there has been a debate about the way how to launch your promotion in Vkontakte: creating a group or fan page?  The option to launch a fan page is relatively new in this social network, so people are still more accustomed to good-old groups, which makes companies to ask the right question: why do we need a fan page at all? We are going to present some comparison, which will help you to make a right choice for your business.

    Both groups and pages are crucial when speaking about promoting your brand on Russian market, since Vkontakte is one of the main sources for spreading information in the Russian Internet, especially when the target audience are youngsters. Pages are assumed to be more like a business card of your business, where you state information about products and the company as well as post some news on your wall. Groups are presumed to be like thematic portal, where people with the same interests get together and discuss the topics they are interested in. However, a lot of businesses use groups function instead of page function. Groups are quite popular for cosmetics and spa services, where women of different ages discuss treatments, services and particular products.

    Attracting customers

    First of all, you are currently not allowed to “suggest a page” to your friend, so the pages can only attract users through advertising methods. However, one can easily connect his website with a Vkontakte page, thus allowing the existing audience to receive the news through the popular social media network.

    Groups, however, can use both ways of attracting followers, by advertising and “suggest a page for your friends”. Moreover, there exist two types of groups: opened and closed. Therefore, some sense of exclusivity can be added via starting a “closed” group. For instance, you can provide some discounts or special offers to those customers who are members of a closed group, as a result it will stimulate others joining your special group. For instance, this is a closed group for the visitors of SELGE BEACH RESORT & SPA 5*

     Design

    Speaking about the design – there is a minor difference between groups and pages, but this difference can also be used in favour of businesses. Below you can see a fan page of the news agency RIA Novosti (left) and a group for a popular TV show Comedy Club (right). At a fan page you can only modify your logo, while groups can use bigger space for adding big banners.


    Spreading information

    The major difference comes in the information spreading mechanism, in which pages have a huge benefit.  All news, information, media, audio posted at the page are also visible on the news wall of your followers, as a result information coverage is much higher compared to groups, where information is only visible while one visits a group.

    However, the mechanism of posting information in groups might also have some advantages. For instance, if the information is valuable and interesting for a member it stimulates him to visit group page more frequently, thus spending time on reading other materials as well.

    To sum up, before starting promotions in Vkontakte, remember that the audience here is still more used to groups, so it might be better to start a group, taking into account that they can be promoted in two ways. It will take a long time for pages to gain the same popularity which the groups have now.

     

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    Advertising in Vkontakte: not a bad idea at all

    Posted on: October 18th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. 2 Comments

    If you read one of our previous blog posts about the social network called Vkontakte and perhaps also looked briefly through their web page, I believe you realized pretty fast that there are a lot of cultural differences between European and Russian social media. For instance, what is the Top-5 of the most popular pages in Facebook? These are:

    1. Texas Hold’em Poker (a poker game by Zynga)           44 million people
    2. Facebook page                                                         43.7 million people
    3. Eminem                                                                   38.8 million people
    4. YouTube                                                                  36.8 million people
    5. Lady Gaga                                                               36.7 million people

    Again, these are pretty innocent pages. The worst thing you can notice is that the most popular page is dedicated to the gambling game. All the rest are dedicated to celebrities. At Vkontakte, the Top-5 pages are:

    1. Comedy Club (dedicated to a very popular TV show)    2.3 million people
    2. +100500 (the show where the guy makes the overview of funny videos from Youtube)     2.2 million people
    3. Funny pictures and videos                                                         2.1 million people
    4. Funny pictures and videos                                                         1.9 million people
    5. A Group for Those Who Laugh at Serious Events                         1.8 million people.

    You can notice the difference at once. Russian people like to laugh! All Top-5 pages are about humor, games, videos, funny pictures. Clearly, the international companies should change their European and American strategies, if they want successfully to advertise in Russian social media. But it is not impossible, and here I want to tell you about one example of a very successful advertizing campaign in Vkontakte. It was conducted by Clearasil, skin care and acne medication cosmetics. Their Vkontakte page looks like this:

    It is targeted at teenagers, both female and male (although there are roughly twice more girls than boys). The audience is engaged into discussions (see the examples above); they play branded games and download branded applications. Games and contests are indeed interesting and engaging, I spent about half an hour browsing through them (tried to find my “true love” as well….). The main game is a 3-step contest where youngsters need to find their true love from 7 candidates, and then defend their right to be called “the best couple” by doing various tasks. Of course as the prices they get Clearasil products. Overall, I got the impression that in order to be successful in Vkontakte, a page has to offer a variety of truly interactive games, applications and questionnaires; and administrators have to be always present in discussions. At Clearasil page, there are 5 administrators who accurately comment on all the videos, links, pictures, which group participants upload and post on the Wall.

    The results were also impressive. In one year time:

    1. the users uploaded more than 13,000 photos
    2. posted more than 120,000 comments
    3. more than 500,000 people participated “liked” the page or used the applications at their own Vkontakte page
    4. and the most important, sales grew 30% over the year.

    To get a comprehensive overview of Clearasil goals, strategy, and results, you can watch a nice video about their campaign:

    This is a great example of social media promotion, and I hope you find some useful insights for your campaign!

     

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    A Thorn In The Government’s Side

    Posted on: October 11th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. 4 Comments

    This blog post is dedicated to the Russian blogosphere LiveJournal, which is quite an interesting example of social media platform. While Russian media is not being a perfect example of free press, a new platform for expressing opinions is emerging, which is the blogosphere. In Russia, the most prominent blog platform called LiveJournal (LJ) is currently one of the most influential opinion shapers in Russia. As a result, it seems that the government started to attack the LJ in order to silence some of the loudest voices.

    Alexey Navalny’s blog, called by the Time magazine “a thorn in the government’s side”, is the 3rd most popular blog in the whole LiveJournal, with more than 50 thousand subscribers. It is the platform for uncovering the corrupt and seemingly legal actions of the government and big companies of Russia. The  most famous revelations include:

    1. The illegal action of Transneft, the state oil transport monopoly, during the construction of the pipeline East Siberia – Pacific Ocean, which cost around $4 billion for Russian tax payers.
    2. Embezzlement of $150 million by the officials of the Russian state-owned bank VTB.
    3. The massive “expenses for charities” of Rosneft which do not reach any charities.

    Navalny has a great influence among the politically active Russians. He was named the “Private Individual of the Year 2009” by the newspaper Vedomosti.

    However, not everyone admires the corruption-fighter. At the end of April 2011 a cyber attack, the first of its kind, hit Navalny’s blog as well as several other popular blogs in the Russian blogosphere. Interestingly, it happened just after Navalny had drawn huge public attention to Transneft’s case. This obvious coincidence did not remain unnoticed, and the ideas that the attack was initiated by the government began to spread. It seems possible that authorities tried to shut the powerful bloggers, such as Navalny, who, in turn, is “poking them with a sharp stick”.

    The most recent attack was at the end of July. Although even the blog of the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, was down for several hours, the public opinion still agrees that the attack was initiated by the Kremlin. While the Internet community remains upset and lost, Navalny and his followers claim that they are not going to move to other platforms. Taking into account the repetitiveness of the attacks, as well as their obvious targets, I am sure that soon the Russian governmental authorities will have to explain these actions in front of the voters, or take more actions in order to prevent them.

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    Social Media in… Russia!

    Posted on: October 6th, 2011 by Cormack Consultancy. No Comments

    This blog post will be about Russian social network called Vkontakte (“Intouch”). It was hugely popular a couple of years ago in all Russian-speaking countries, and now is gradually giving up the positions to Facebook. However, Facebook still has not beat Vkontakte by the number of users, and besides the audience of two networks is rather different, so depending on the target audience of your business, you should consider advertizing on this social network. Boring stuff first, so here is some statistics, traffic ranks of Vkontake and Facebook in the 3 countries:

    traffic rank

    traffic rank

    Russia 4th 8th
    Ukraine 3rd 7th
    Belarus 5th 9th

     

    As for audience demographics, I went to Vkontakte search, and found approximately 56.2 million of men, and 48.5 million of women, which means there is ~53% male and ~47% female. Most people are under 35 years old, with the majority of them being undergraduates and senior pupils. By the way, a very good resource on the internet statistics is Alexa.com.

    In Vkontakte you can do almost everything you do in Facebook. For example:

    1. Create your own profile. There is also your personal Wall, as well as “aggregate” Wall for all of your friends posts. The comfortable thing here is that you can look at the “news”, “photos”, or “comments” separately.
    2.  You can create groups and you can create pages in Vkontakte. The option to create pages was introduced only in the beginning of this year, and the Internet-community still does not see the big difference between a page and a group. Right now there are slightly more than 1 million of pages, and around 17 million of groups.
    3. On the page of your company, you can do, basically, all the same things: like the posts, subscribe to the news, make polls, post links, videos, etc.

    As for advertizing, Vkontakte claims to have targeted advertising which will be shown exactly to your target audience. There are 3 types of advertisements available:

    1. Usual advertisement. You can pay for the ad being shown, or depending on how many users will click on your ad and appear on your company page.
    2. Video ad: when clicking on the ad users will see the video, will be able to “like” it, and “share” it on their wall.
    3. Advertisement like an application. It could be a game, a quiz, a contest. Users download the application, play it, and in this way move it up in the search, so that the most popular applications are the ones played the most times. Usual system, nothing new here.

    Another interesting thing is that you can make campaigns of advertisements, which allows you to manage several ads by one click. You can schedule your ads for one campaign, start all of them at once, or assign the order and time at which each ad in the campaign will be shown. Rather comprehensive guide on advertisement in Vkontakte is here (in Russian).

    And now here is a bit of cultural shock. Which application you think is the most popular in Vkontakte right now? This is the application called Turjaga (“Prison”), with more than 7 million installations. The goal of the game is to make tattoos to become a respectful criminal. Russian criminal tattoos have a complex system of symbols and this application educates widely on this topic. In addition, users can learn the prison slang, which is actively used in this application. Compared to this, FarmVille is a game for kindergarten kids. So, if you are not afraid of tough and tattooed all over Vkontakte users, then create a page or a profile there!

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