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Zanna Pupele

Targeting Russia? The top 8 Russian social networks you need to know


Read an updated (October 2019) and extended version of this article here.

At SMX it was confirmed that Yandex is working towards dropping backlinks as a ranking factor and developing a complex technology to access social media content, which eventually will have an impact on Yandex rankings.

Therefore, to follow the trend of the ever increasing importance of social media, we have compiled a review of the most important and influential social networks in RuNet. Note the fact that the Russian language internet space has its own well-established name – this highlights that it’s not just a language issue, but that the whole mentality is different.

Most popular Russian social networks

  • VK – 50 million users
  • Odnoklassniki – 45 million users
  • MoiMir – 40 million users
  • Facebook – 20 million users
  • Twitter – 10 million users
  • Moikrug – 100,000 users
  • Livejournal – 90,000 users
  • RuTube – in the top ten most popular Russian websites

VK.com (formerly VKontakte)


Founded in 2006, VK is the most popular social network in Russia, with a daily audience of over 50 million users. It is very similar to Facebook. A mobile number is required for registration, as a code is sent to the mobile phone to activate the account.

Demographically it’s dominated by quite young people, or people just over 30 – these people are dynamic and open-minded, with diverse interests, and are likely to have some disposable income.

However, businesses, especially foreign ones, have no major presence on VK.

Interestingly, note how the same post (pictured below) got a relatively similar number of comments, but 150 times less “likes” on VK when compared to Facebook:

 VK  Facebook
 Comments  94  138
 Likes  45  7,249

VK and Russian Facebook

*Russians are famous for not smiling out of politeness only – apparently they do not “like” things, either, unless they are really thrilled.

Odnoklassniki .ru


Odnoklassniki was founded in 2006 and is the second most popular network in Russia with about 45 million visitors – although it used to be in first place. It has recently gone under Mail.ru management. It is similar to classmates.com and allows users to get hold of long-lost childhood friends and family members.

The network boasts the longest average time spend per page, significantly more than other social networks. However, users visit the site less frequently.

Odnoklassniki users participate a lot in group discussions and reviews etc.

The audience tends to be more mature, closer to 40 years old and over, with quite traditional values and settled lives. They are more evenly spread throughout the country, including smaller towns and outer areas, compared to more metropolitan-centric networks such as Facebook.



MoiMir unites all services and options for users of the biggest portal in Russia: MAIL.RU. MAIL.RU consists of an emailing service, news, dating and weather etc. and is powered by its own search engine. It is the third biggest social network in Russia, with about 40 million registered users. It is focused on entertainment, online games, sharing music and videos.

An app has been developed to communicate via mobile or computer (similar to ICQ service).

Monthly audience (millions)

Average time spent on-site per visit (minutes)

Average monthly visits per user






















Facebook is believed to be in 4th place on the Russian social networks list, with over 20 million users.

It is considered to be a platform for remonstrative youth movements, used mainly by young metropolitan professionals with an active social position – often belonging to a political opposition. Russian Facebook users tend to be unacquainted with each other in real life.


Twitter is rapidly expanding in Russia, and has surpassed 10 million unique users. It is believed the growth rate will decrease slightly in the future, although it is expected to nevertheless be one of the biggest in the world with a projected growth rate of 25-30% between 2014 and 2018.

Nearly 40% of users are actively tweeting, which is a record-breaking number for social networks. Over half the audience is between 18 and 34 years old, living mainly in big cities.


Moikrug.ru was founded in 2005 by graduates of Moscow State University, and is similar to LinkedIn.

Daily visits are estimated to be around 100k, however its audience is significantly skewed towards the IT sector.  It has a real-time news/message feed and is a very lively place during office hours, contrary to other popular social networks, due to the subjects being discussed being highly related to work.

It is used extensively by HR and head-hunters searching for talented potential employees.


Livejournal.ru launched in 1999, and is the most popular blog in Russia. Despite a decrease in visitors, 9% of all Internet users in Russia visit the site and the number of users is quite stable, and even grows in some periods. The site has about 90k unique authors.  

Livejournal.ru has become a reputable alternative platform for political discussions about prime civic events.

Its audience (including authors/bloggers) is becoming ever more professional; not only are the blogs themselves written to a high quality – with fine images, supportive data, and links to research and sources – but many of the comments could be mini-blogs themselves, often offering even deeper analysis into the subject.


The quantity of comments on the most popular blogs is congruent to comment numbers on the most significant news items on major news portals.

LiveJournal has also established Bloggers Schools in many towns in Russia, supervised by LiveJournal Ambassadors.

LiveJournal is looking more and more like a national mass media portal. It has authority and it has gained the trust of the RuNet audience over 15 years of stabile performance, and is one of most quoted sources in RuNet.



RuTube.ru is very similar to YouTube – although it is in Russian, obviously!

Interestingly, since there were no copyright laws in the Soviet Union, all videos and music produced during that time belong to the nation. There are therefore tons of old films and TV productions available to download in high quality (some of these are available on YouTube too, but not nearly as much).

Despite YouTube being the clear industry leader in online video sharing, RuTube is within the top 10 most popular Russian websites so it is not to be overlooked and is highly recommended as a channel to increase your online presence in RuNet.


So, are Russian social networks clones of Western portals, or are they authentic and distinctive? On the surface, they appear to have plenty in common. However, Russian networks are incorporating a unique domestic and psychological context, which affects the choice of discussion subjects and hot topics – and the topics sometimes are really hot, to the extent that the nickname “HolyWar” has emerged, as Russians remain to be very politically (and socially) active and opinionated.

RuNet is full of politically incorrect humour and what a tolerant Western society would consider bullying. But hard-tempered Russians are used to directness and are rarely lenient to what they consider to be weak characters, with everyday diplomacy hardly being their strongest point.

Grim and cruel jokes, witty comments, a unique style of language and specific slang used in the virtual world only, screwing with the most serious or sensitive subjects –  RuNet certainly has its own style!

Quote from a blog about diet:

В это время в зал вылезают не тронутые фитнесом тушки, которые начинают трясти телесами на аэробных тренажерах с острым желанием немедленного приобретения сексуальной привлекательности в преддверии пляжного сезона.

Translation: At this time of the year timid beached whales, as yet untouched by fitness, begin creeping into gyms, and commence jolting their doughy frames on cardiovascular apparatus, with an intense desire for an instant glamorous sex appeal, in anticipation of beach season.

The good news is that Russians rely a lot on reviews and recommendations within social media, as traditionally they are more responsive to informal, latent promotional campaigns.

Russian marketing chart

So, there is definitely room for cautious, custom-made marketing with a very individual approach, performed by native Russians – otherwise, advertising campaigns run the risk of looking alien and too formal.  With the severe luck of trust Russian online buyers are still experiencing (for example, the major issue online retailers are facing in Russia, that customers are reluctant to use any online payment systems and prefer paying cash on delivery), to appear local is of utmost importance.


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Zanna Pupele

Zanna Pupele

Account Manager and Team Leader at Webcertain
Zanna has been working in the digital marketing field since gaining a university degree in Computer Science and Engineering. She is a real people person, and her career in client services successfully marries her personality to her knowledge. With more than 15 years’ experience in marketing in B2B and B2C with companies operating worldwide, Zanna enjoys keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices, developing the digital marketing strategies contributing to her clients’ success together with them, and coordinating projects to make their fulfilment possible. Zanna is originally from Latvia, and now lives in the UK.

25 Responses to Targeting Russia? The top 8 Russian social networks you need to know

  1. Pingback: All Social Networks You Need to Know About | UpMixed

  2. Pingback: The Top 8 Russian Social Networks

  3. AvatarEvana says:

    it should depend on what is your target audience, but I would say vk.com and Facebook and Skyrock would be the first choice.

  4. AvatarSyedtutul says:

    Hi Zanna Pupele, Thanks for your nice information. I pickup three good websites.

  5. AvatarAmbadas says:

    I am actually developing a agriculture based product which I want to market in Russia. Which is the most used social media web site where I can reach out to people in Russia to use this app.

    Thanks & Regards

    • zannazanna says:

      Hi Ambadas,
      We’d need to look at your target audience to make any recommendations, and to learn more about the product/service you offer. If you would like to discuss any aspects of a possible promotion strategy for Russian market, we are happy to arrange a discovery call with our specialists.

      Hope to hear form you soon 🙂

  6. AvatarAnshul Singh says:

    Hi Zanna,
    we’re looking to explore our business (Lingerie) in Russia. We could step up a page on social sites to explore the same. What you suggest which social platform could be best to promote the brand and sales as well.

    Thanks in advance

    • zannazanna says:

      Hi Anshul,
      it would depend on what is your target audience, but I would say vk.com and facebook would be first choice. However, we would suggest to conduct Market Intelligence research, to explore the best channels to use for expansion. I also encourage you to access delivery methods and payment options, as an arrangement could differ from Western countries.
      Please feel free to contact Webcertain if you need any assistance, and we wish you the very good luck with your business venture!
      Kind regards

  7. AvatarFarid says:

    Thanks for information,how do you think,which social network can be usefull to play poker in Russian?Also how can i get destkop and mobile user staticts of Russian social networks ?
    Best Regards

    • ZannaZanna says:

      Hi Farid, thank you for your interest in our blog. I hardly can comment on best place for playing poker as personal hobby, since I have no such experience; but for the gambling as a business we are more than happy to conduct a Personal Research, which also would contain a list of the most popular poker on-line communities.
      Russian social networks desktop and mobile users statistics is an interesting subject, for the top-level information you use sites like http://webtun.com – once again, Webcertain could conduct a customised research and provide you with statistical report, please contact our Business development team (link here: http://enquire.webcertain.com/ ).

  8. AvatarWilliam Esker says:

    Zanna, I am trying to contact other light, or ultralight aircraft pilots or groups in Russia, any suggestions?

    • ZannaZanna says:

      Hi William,
      I would suggest to conduct e-listening for keywords you believe represent the subject the best, to identify on-line communities discussing similar topics and generally being interested in such subject.

      If you need any assistance with e-listening research, please feel free to contact Webcertain business development team (link here: http://enquire.webcertain.com/ ).

  9. AvatarAmrit says:

    Great to know all this. But I need some help in Partner yandex (advertising network) Could you please help on gatting started. Please reply I will bookmark this link to come back in future.

  10. AvatarAli says:

    Really interesting. What platform would you suggest for promoting your boarding school or university to target Russian families? Or blog about your institution

    • ZannaZanna says:

      Hi Ali,
      My first impression would be that “moj mir” would be a good option to try to create a group, however I would highly recommend to run e-listening to identify the existing community discussing the subject, to join them and contribute the info you have an expertise in. This way you would gradually become an influencer, and targeting a relevant audience. Pleas contact us if you need a help with social media marketing strategy.

  11. AvatarLissette says:

    Hi Zanna,

    Thank you for your information. May you please recommend me a webpage or a newspaper that Russian can see Real Estate listings?. I am Real Estate agent and I would like Russian know what is that I am selling. Also, if you know how I can communicate with Russian’s Real Estate agents, I would like to as well.

  12. Pingback: Is search under threat from social networks? - Real Time Bidding (RTB Europe)Real Time Bidding (RTB Europe)

  13. AvatarPraveen says:

    Nice and very informative article. Thank you Zanna Pupele

  14. Pingback: Is search under threat from social networks? - diginomica

  15. AvatarJim Betz says:

    Zanna, could you please tell me which Russian social net is most like VK? Thank you….Jim Betz

  16. ZannaZanna says:

    Hi Liam,
    I have responded to you via email – however, I hardly can offer a lot of help, as I never experienced any problem with VK, using my UK mobile number. I suggest you may try to register using your Facebook account, I believe there is such option. Hope that helps.

  17. AvatarLiam says:

    Thanks for this article. Very detailed. I’m interested in getting a VK.com account but I get stuck in confirming my mobile number. Do you know which format to use? I tried many possible ways on how to enter my phone number even with a +1 in front. Do you know how to contact VK support or how to correctly enter the number? Thanks

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