As Facebook is far from the main Russian social network, the industry is highly competitive and global players are tempted to dive in the fight.
Social media Odnoklassniki is competing with leader of the market Vkontakte, his CEO Ilya Shirokov now claims that the gap in users is less than 5%, from 50% a few years ago. With the increasing Internet penetration in the region, “the Russian-speaking market for social medai will double in the next few year” according to him, providing his company, and others, with a lot of opportunities
There’s an increasing proximity betwen different social media, but beware of negative reactions from users: “we were pushed back by users when we tried automatic content cross uploading to Odnoklassniki & MM” admitted Shirokov. Users had two social media profiles for two separate circles that did not overlap.
From left to right: Ilya Shirokov (CEO of Odnoklassniki), Gene Sokolov Head of Badoo Russia and moderator Jamillah Knowles (UK Editor, The Next Web)
Global player Badoo is making a push at the moment to get in the Russian market. This social network, whose specifity is to find new contacts instead of connecting existing ones, but has also been used for dating, now claims a growth of several thousands new members per day in the country.
Both panelists agreed that mobile phone has a much higher penetration potential for the developing world and both websites tried e-commerce, another hope for revenues in social media. Badoo even created its own payment plugin and both accepts many means of payment, like SMS.
Ilya Shirokov (CEO of Odnoklassniki)
For Shirokov, the future remains “hard to predict. Blogs were thought to be the end of the story, then social media arrived and they changed. Social changed everything, sharing photos, games, the trend continues with music and video”.
Curation, that is having your social networks do tailored recommendation to its users based on the infos they have on them, is a aspect Odnoklassniki is going to develop in the immediate future, announced its CEO. Immediatly, Sokolov interjected that curation has to be done right and that he never saw one good example online.
For him, the future of social media is threefold: “local, instant and connected to the real world.”