Story by Matt Rhodes from Fresh Networks
Earlier this year we reported on how Russia is the fourth largest social networking market in Europe. Data from TNS showed that use of social media and social networking in Russia is widespread, making it the fourth largest market in Europe for social networking behind the UK, Germany and France. In part this position is driven by strong local social networking sites, principally Odnoklassniki (Одноклассники), which reports some 30 million registered users, and VKontakte (В контакте) with some 28 million registered users.
These numbers are truly impressive and perhaps the rate of growth in membership of social networking sites in Russia is even more so. But recent research from comScore shows that Russians are the most engaged users of social media in the world.
The research showed that in May this year, 1.1 billion people went online worldwide, and 75% of these visited social networks and online communities. In fact, the typical user of the internet spent 3.7 hours on such sites in May. But users from Russia led the way with the typical internet user in that country spending a total of 6.6 hours ever month on these social media sites. Brazil was second with an average of 6.3 hours per user and Canada was third with 5.6 hours per typical user. These numbers compare with 4.6 hours spent by the typical UK internet user on social networks. And a typical 4.2 hours for people in the US.
By this simple measure, the Russian internet audience appears to be perhaps the most engaged in the world in social networking and online communities. This highlights the danger of focusing on English-language-centric developments in online communities, social media tools and social networks. In Russia, two local sites each reach more than 40% of the entire Internet population in the country. Facebook, by contrast, reaches only 2% of the Russian internet audience.
Some of the most interesting developments in the use of social networks and online communities are happening where the users are most engaged and where the user bases are growing most rapidly. This is more likely to be in the markets where the audience and access is developing quickly. Perhaps we should all look to Russia and Brazil more when we want to know what comes next.