Social media in Russia
Found yourself in Russia for a while? Time to get familiar with social media in Russia then! However, keep in mind that Google is not as useful as their Russian counterpart, and some have never heard of LinkedIn. How does the Russian social media landscape look like? Here is a guide to what (and how) to use them.
Russia’s Facebook. The one most important social media in Russia. Just as we use Facebook, most Russians prefer Vkontakte (VK) for personal relations. The two websites work in very similar ways. You can use the chat function to converse with friends. You can scroll through feeds and see the updates and photos people posted. There are small differences, but in practice, it works the same way. VK has extra features, so music and podcasts can be found there as well.
One thing to note is that Facebook (for personal use) appears to be more popular nowadays among young Muscovites. This is perhaps due to the more “Western” mindset they have and also that they likely have more international friends, so Facebook it is.
More about VK here.
Russia’s (Facebook) Messenger. Perhaps due to higher concerns for privacy, Russians like to use Telegram, or WhatsApp. Telegram is Russian but was banned in Russia for 2 years, leading to an exodus to WhatsApp. Telegram is now allowed once again. Both are simple messaging apps that does its job and with no bigger functions.
I notice that Russians like to use these apps to record voice messages, which I am not used to. I actually find using voice messages to be better as you can hear what the other person said. You can pick up some Russian as well by replaying messages several times to hear it properly.
Russia’s LinkedIn. From my experience, many Russians have Facebook but they don’t use it very often, or only for professional purposes. They tend to write about their work experience on Facebook and add work contacts on Facebook, while VK is perceived as more personal and for friends only. This can vary, but my experience in Moscow has been this way.
So, note that while Russians may use the same social networks as in other countries, they use it for different purposes than you may assume.
It’s still Instagram in Russia, but 10x more popular than anywhere else! For some reason, Instagram is very widespread here and everyone seems to have an active account, and they (mainly girls) also update it much more often than is normal in other countries I have lived in. Some even have two accounts. If you don’t already have Instagram, get it and follow your Russian friends. Liden & Denz has an Instagram account with regular short bits of Russian tips as well.
There is an option on the app to see how many hours/minutes you spend each day on Instagram, and when I look at some (younger) Russians’ usage data, I was shocked!
Russia’s Google. You can use Yandex for everything: Yandex Maps/Metro, Yandex Translate, Yandex Taxi, Yandex News, etc. It is almost a mirror of Google, with very similar apps (often with the same name). So a switch to Yandex should be easy for most people.
It is worth noting that Yandex Maps have better data than Google Maps when you are in Russia, so there is good reason to switch to Yandex if you are coming here. I also find that Yandex Translate work better than Google Translate, so when you learn Russian, switch to that!
More about Yandex apps here.