Internet use continues to rise and thrive in Russia, presenting hoteliers with a major digital marketing opportunity. And that market’s social media networks can empower marketers to engage with local guests, provide customer service and drive online bookings in previously untapped ways.
But for hoteliers new to the Russian market, it can be challenging to identify and use the right networks to reach prospective guests.
Read on to learn which social media networks have the strongest influence in Russia, and how you can utilize them to maximize engagement with this important emerging market.
VK — formerly Vkontakte, Russian for “in touch” — is easily the most popular social networking site in Russia. As of March 2018, VK had at least 477 million accounts. According to SimilarWeb, it is the most popular website in Russia, and ranks ninth worldwide.
VK’s user base skews toward younger consumers. Around 70% are between 18 and 34 years old, making this the best medium for connecting with teens and young adults.
Odnoklassniki — meaning “classmates” — is VK’s direct competitor. It once reigned as the lead Russian social media network until VK overtook it 10 years ago. But that doesn’t mean Odnoklassniki is now a digital ghost town. It’s still used daily by more than one quarter of Russian internet users and is the sixth most popular website in the nation.
The average age of Odnoklassniki users ranges between 35 and 44 years old, making it at better platform than VK for reaching a more mature audience.
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are the go-to social media sites for most of the world, but their presence in Russia is dwarfed by VK. They’re still worth mentioning, with Instagram ranking as the ninth most popular website, and Facebook ranking at 11th. Twitter ranks 26th in popularity, but still has an active user base.
Advice for marketers
If you’re a Western hotelier serving the Russian market, here are some tips for smartly engaging the prospective guests on social media:
- Utilize VK as your primary local social channel, both as a tool for customer service, to engage with current and prospective guests.
- Take advantage of VK’s robust advertising platform for brands, which offers targeted banners and video ads on either a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression model.
- Use VK to promote products or services. Unlike users in other markets, most Russians don’t find promotions annoying. In fact, 80% of users use social media to follow their favorite brands and stay up to date on the latest special offers.
- Generate compelling results by reaching an influential demographic that happens to be Odnoklassniki’s core audience, women aged 35 to 44.
- Create a brand page. Brand pages have tabs for discussion and multimedia.
- Photos, videos and quizzes attract the most activity on brand pages. Pair informative text with multimedia to garner more views and shares.
- Russian internet users span nine different time zones. Be sure to post new content consistently throughout the day.
- Hire native Russian speakers to maintain local social media profiles, engage with followers, answer questions and promote special offers. The cost to employ a native speaker is easily offset by the referral traffic and revenue generated by social media.
- Brand consistency is key. Social media should be conversational and organic, but the tone should match your brand’s website.
- Offer your website to users in Russian and keep it up to date. This enables your global marketing team to keep the same tone of voice throughout your online customer experience.
- If your website translation solution offers access to your translation memory — a comprehensive database of all your translations — you can save time and money by repurposing existing translated content to create social content, profiles and ads.
Hoteliers should take advantage of Russia’s massive, robust social media platforms to interact with their guests, promote special offers and generate buzz around their brand. This requires knowing how to leverage the features of each network and being fluent in the market’s language and culture.
Hotel marketers can receive support from local social media specialists, as well as website translation solutions. Both provide brands linguistic accuracy and cultural fluency. Superior website translation solutions can offer tools that make localization of social media posts, images, multimedia and other promotional material cost-effective — and practically effortless.
Contributed by Craig Witt, executive vice president, MotionPoint