To make it on Russian social media, you need to think differently. Here are the platforms and strategies you need to connect with your customers.

Want to unlock the Russian market for your brand? Social is the key.

70 million Russians – 47% of the population – are active on social media sites, making it an indispensable place for your brand to engage customers.

But it’s not social as you know it.

Russian social media users want a Russian experience. And the more culturally plugged in you are, the better. So forget Twitter. Rethink Instagram. And change how you see Facebook – it’s been dwarfed by Russian giants Odnoklassniki (OK) and VKontakte (VK).

This may feel daunting, but don’t be disheartened. It’s still perfectly possible for Western brands to succeed on social media. Here’s how to make the most of each platform.


It’s the second most popular website in Russia. The fourth most popular social media in the world. Visitors stay on it longer – and visit more pages per session – than any other social platform. It’s popular with teens and twenty-somethings. And it has an English interface for overseas users, so you can master it quickly.

Sounds ideal, right? Here are five tips to help your brand master the platform.


Russians respond better to communities than brand-produced content, so set up a group. Once members have signed up, you can speak to them directly or target them with ads. Build a strong community of brand champions by creating relevant content, avoiding corporate speak and joining in with conversations. And use VK’s advanced analytics tools to gain a deeper insight into your customers.


Thanks to VK’s targeting tools, you can get pretty specific with paid promotions. When users sign up to VK, they’re presented with as many as 50 different information entry points on their profile. And if they leave a section blank, the site keeps prodding them until they fill it in. This sheer volume of data means you can send highly relevant content to niche groups.


Russians are much more likely to buy from you if you speak in their language, about their culture. That’s why regional music and videos do well on VK. So don’t import your English ads over wholesale. Localize your social content and make sure it chimes with local pop culture.


Boost your content’s click-through rate by using VK’s unique paid post service. This lets you pay community admins to post about your brand, with a backlink to your site. To community members, this just looks like another organic post, so they’re less likely to dismiss it as an ad.


Sort out your e-commerce site before jumping into VK. Russian web censors have been known to ban sites entirely – and if your store’s offline, you can’t convert impressions into revenue. You’ll need at least localized network coverage, compliance with government restrictions and an efficient cybersecurity programme. Follow our e-commerce advice here to stand out from the crowd.


OK is the second Russian social media giant. It’s the seventh most visited site in Russia and is popular with an older demographic – particularly rich middle-aged women. This makes it a tempting prospect for fashion and beauty brands.

But don’t be fooled. If you’re targeting an older, richer or more female audience, Facebook is the way to go.

That’s because although it’s smaller than VK and OK, Facebook is growing fast. It attracts the same demographic as OK, and you won’t need to invest time and effort into learning a new site. Plus, as Facebook continues to grow in Russia, mastering your Russian strategy now will reap rewards in future.


Instagram is popular in Russia, particularly for beauty and fashion brands. However, you’ll need to rethink your approach. Russians often add long captions to their posts, unlike the shorter Western style. And the site is often used to link to other Russian social media networks. So make sure your content could also work on VK or Facebook.

Although Twitter has shown some signs of growth, it lags far behind the other social media sites. As a result, it’s probably not worth investing in a Russian presence until the platform’s proved it has staying power.


Social media’s power to influence buying behaviour in Russia is beyond dispute. Take the time to invest in a localized strategy – the strong return on investment is worth it. Fortune favours the bold, and now is the time to get involved.

If you’d like some help getting your Russian social media strategy off the ground, get in touch with our digital experts.

ABOUT Jonny Simpson

I make sure English content is excellent. And I'll write, edit, proofread and translate for that to happen. I believe the most impactful content combines useful, culturally relevant information with compelling copy, and I've seen great results with Ermenegildo Zegna and Maserati.

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