Which Russian social media to choose for promotion?

In Russia the four most popular social media are VK, Instagram, Odnoklassniki (OK.ru) and Facebook. In this sequence, if we talk about the total number of active users in 2019. According to the analytical company Mediascope, Instagram overtook Odnoklassniki (“Classmates” in Russian) in 2018. I think that in the next couple of years we can expect Instagram’s struggle with VK to take the first place.

But remember that the total number of users doesn’t tell us much. The huge reach of VK doesn’t automatically mean that it is actively used by your target audience.

On the other hand, less popular Facebook shouldn’t be completely ignored, especially if your target audience are Moscow Millennials.

Current statistics on the popularity of social networks and other major portals can be found, for example, on Mediascope website or the Yandex analytical service Yandex.Radar:

Top-5 Russian social networks

How to choose relevant Russian social media?

1. Check if your target audience is there

The easiest way to assess the presence of the target audience on this platform is to use ad manager, specifying the desired parameters: age, gender, location and others.

I wrote about the ad settings on VK in this guide. I’m also going to write about OK.ru settings soon. Facebook and Instagram I think shouldn’t be a problem :)

Also check out the current social media reports, where they often give detailed characteristics of their users (demographics, income, interests, etc.). Here you will find VK report for 2018, and here is a mediakit of advertising platform myTarget, which allows to advertise on OK.ru.

More details about each portal you may find below.

2. Explore your competitors, but without fanaticism

Looking at your competitors is not always justified. Competitors often know no more about social networks than you do, even if they have been working on this market for many years. And even if they know more than you do, marketers don’t always make the right decisions for their business.

For example, many young marketers are biased against OK.ru, but truth is, they really just don’t understand how a brand communication on this platform should look — because it’s very peculiar. Or they’re passionate about Instagram, though on VK they are able to get higher and cheaper reach in their niche.

However, it is worth checking whether and how competitors are advertising on this platform. On Facebook you can check their active ads on the Ad library, and in case of VK and OK.ru you may use Publer.pro (only in Russian).

3. Define what advertising opportunities you need

Each social media has its own nuances of targeting and advertising formats.

VK has fewer settings than Facebook, but it is possible to use external tools to collect followers of your competitors by the specified parameters (for example, those who actively commented or liked competitors’ posts within the last 30 days) or advertise on thematic groups or fanpages.

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Odnoklassniki, allow you to use interesting options, such as targeting based on the current weather, key phrases that users entered in the search engine or on the marketplace, whether a users smokes or drinks coffee, or what his psychological type of personality is (for example, introverted or extroverted person).

4. Calculate your marketing budget

Each platform requires a separate budget — not only for advertising, but also for content production and communication with customers.

 If your plan is to duplicate the same content on all social networks, better don’t even start. In most cases, this will not work.  Users behave differently on different platforms and use them for different purposes.

For instance, on Instagram they may follow favorite influencers, on OK.ru they play games and look for funny gifs, on VK they chat with friends and visit groups, and finally visit Facebook just to read another philosophical post from their colleague from job. These are, of course, only examples and each target group can do it differently.

The nuances of each social network in Russia

VK (Vkontakte)

VK has not only the largest reach, but also the largest audience with high income (according to Mediascope):

VK users behave differently than Facebook. More often visit fanpage, as VK functionality allows you to create forums inside the page, make internal hashtags that help to find the appropriate category of content on the page (#hashtag@fanpagename), and the section with the products is in a well-visible part at the top of the fanpage. Users on VK are also used to making purchases through private messages.

Check out all of the advertising opportunities in VK.


For the last couple of years Instagram in Russia has become one of the main channels for commerce and communication with customers.

Instagram in the Eastern Europe is being used differently than in the West. One of the main differences concerns much longer descriptions. Secondly, Russian Instagram users, as well as on VK, are used to make purchases without a website through Direct messages or Whatsapp, Viber and Telegram. Instead of going to the website, they ask in the comments about the price, delivery cost and shipping methods and expect quick responses.

Instagram is an absolute musthave in Russia if you sell products or services from these categories:

  • cosmetics
  • clothes
  • FMCG
  • goods for children and young mothers
  • furniture and interior items
  • real estate
  • electronics and appliances
  • travel
  • events

In other branches — you need to try, test and make your own conclusions. However, if you search well, you can find a successful profiles from in almost any industry. The only question is what is the ROMI.

READ:  How nano and micro influencers can earn money by placing ads in Instagram stories?

Odnoklassniki (OK.ru)

The most underestimated social network in Russia because of outdated stereotypes that only old people use it.

Actually it’s not true, and the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 71M active users per month (worldwide).
  • #1 in terms of the amount of video content in Runet with 700 million impressions per day.
  • 5th social media in the world in terms of traffic (by Similarweb).
  • 35M mobile-only users per month.
  • 5.5M users of the internal marketplace.

Older generation indeed use OK.ru, but the largest segment of active users is the age group 26-35.

As I wrote above, the vast majority of Russian marketers (not to mention foreign) deliberately ignore this social network. Either they live in stereotypes since 2010, or simply don’t know how “to exist” there.

Odnoklassniki really has its own atmosphere and a kind of culture of content creation, consumption and discussion. Users prefer very direct communication and raw content. Most likely, you’ll not find arrogant Facebook-style posts or Photoshopped-Lightroomed photos as on Instagram. This kind of content just doesn’t attract users there. However, a simple sense of humor and all sorts of DIY tutorials are very welcome for any occasion.


Facebook is one of the least popular social medium in Russia. Only TikTok and Twitter have lesser reach. If you’re advertising only in Facebook newsfeed, without the Audience Network, the reach is only about 8 million users, or less then 10% of internet users in Russia.

However, this social network can be used as a source of additional traffic, especially if your target audience is from Moscow — about 40% of Russian Facebook users live in the capital.


  • Start the selection of relevant social media for promotion in Russia from identifying the target audience and examine its size on different platforms.
  • Amount of monthly users of current social media does not automatically mean that there are most of your potential customers.
  • It is also worth checking how competitors behave, what formats of advertising they use and what formats a specific social network offers.
  • Users use different platforms in different ways. Learn more about these differences, how does the brand communication strategy differ in other countries and platforms, and only after that start planning your actions.
  • If you’re going to duplicate content for all social networks, it is better to not even start — in many cases you’ll just wasted time and budget.


  • Vinny
    23.08.2019 at 08:26

    Hello Mr. Kanin.
    This is a very well written article. I have been searching some articles written on several international so called best Blogs such as Forbes, harvard- But I found your article the best and to the point. The things are crystal and very well explained for a new person who wants to understand the real picture of Social Media in Russia. Thanks for the perfect article. Appreciated.

    • Konstantin Kanin
      16.02.2020 at 13:46

      Thank you!

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