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Where users of blocked social networks migrated

From January to September, the daily audience of Facebook in Russia decreased by five times, the audience of Instagram by almost four times. These social networks are banned in Russia and recognized as extremist, just like the American company Meta, which owns them. How the preferences and habits of Russian users have changed over the past six months, Profile understood.

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Especially for Profile, Mediascope research company calculated the average daily audience of the most popular social networks in Russia. The data cover the entire population aged 12 years and over.

Head of the Ministry of Digital Development: social networks blocked in the Russian Federation retained a fifth of the traffic

If in January almost 9 million Russians visited Facebook (average daily coverage), then in August – only 1.8 million, Instagram – 38 million and 9 million, respectively. This is an audience taking into account sessions of any duration. If we analyze only sessions lasting five minutes or more, then by September the audience of Facebook and Instagram decreased even more – to 279 thousand and 5.2 million people, respectively.

Russians began to look at Odnoklassniki a little less often – in six months the daily audience decreased by 500 thousand – to 19.9 million. TikTok began to go less often – the average daily reach decreased from 31.7 million to 30 million.

Interest in YouTube has noticeably grown – the daily audience has increased from 45.3 million to 48 million. The audience of VKontakte has grown from 46 million to 56.6 million. up to 42 million

Have a contact

Roskomnadzor blocked Facebook on March 4 in response to restricting access to Russian media. In mid-March, access to Instagram was also closed. The reason for this decision was that the American company Meta Platforms temporarily allowed not to block calls for violence against Russians, including military personnel.

Roskomnadzor reminded Russian users that the country has its own competitive Internet platforms. But while nothing fundamentally changed for Odnoklassniki, despite the influx of users in March, VKontakte has experienced a real renaissance. In the spring, the social network was covered by a wave of popularity – in March, the number of registrations quadrupled. The Internet platform set several records at once: 50 million daily audience in Russia and 100 million monthly audience in the world. At the same time, the growth trend continued in the summer – according to the press service of VKontakte, the average monthly audience of the social network in Russia amounted to a record 75.7 million (+5.5% yoy), despite the start of the holiday period.

Small Business Platform

VKontakte really looks like the most convenient replacement for Instagram. Feed, stories, hashtags and geotags, and even accessibility features for online shopping and fundraising are all familiar to Instagram lovers. You can share links directly in posts. At the same time, the issuance algorithms on the site are clearer than similar mechanisms in foreign social networks.

The State Duma Committee explained under what conditions Instagram can be unblocked in the Russian Federation

However, Instagram in Russia has an important feature, which is now being reminded in the State Duma, offering to still unblock the social network. Initially created as a photo and video sharing service, it has become one of the platforms for promoting small businesses. The blocking had a negative impact on the areas of online education, catering, and the service sector: not all individual entrepreneurs have their own website and the means to promote it.

It was this platform that was the most popular among advertisers for influence marketing (promotion through bloggers, celebrities, artists and other opinion leaders). Experts estimated the volume of the market at 13-15 billion rubles. In the past year.

In March, bloggers actively invited the audience to Telegram and tried to go there themselves. But the lull did not last long – by April they returned to Instagram. And users have learned how to access a blocked social network through a VPN (services with technology to bypass blocking).

Russian analogues did not give the opportunity to interact with the audience in the usual way. For example, animal shelters that collected help on Instagram had ten times fewer subscribers on Russian social networks. This means ten times less donations to the homeless and sick wards.

Even the well-known Orthodox missionary priest Pavel Ostrovsky failed to win over the audience to Telegram. He has half a million followers on his Instagram channel. In April, Father Pavel actively invited “parishioners” to Russian social networks, but then he decided that deleting Instagram was a mistake, since many people use posts and stories as “bait” for their unbelieving loved ones. Father Pavel has a little over 180,000 subscribers on his Telegram channel.

Texts and comments

Telegram is growing faster than other social networks. In the first week since the start of the military operation in Ukraine, news channels gained 19.5 million new subscribers, according to TGStat.ru (which specializes in messenger analysis).

And although the site is difficult to compare in terms of functionality with Facebook, they have a common audience. The social network allowed writing large texts and discussing them in the comments. Telegram copes with this task perfectly. In addition, in the messenger you can broadcast and conduct surveys.

However, in order to make the channel popular, you need an original idea or a strong media person-author. For example, in March, Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of the Russian Security Council, launched his own channel. By September, he had collected 726,000 subscribers.

Over the past six months, advertisers’ interest in native advertising on Telegram has doubled in annual terms, according to a joint study between the Telega.in messenger and the eLama contextual advertising management platform. Every tenth advertiser who placed applications promoted leisure services (tourism, hotel and restaurant business, event industry), as well as the sale of furniture, household appliances and chemicals, and educational courses. A sharp increase in advertising turnover was recorded in channels on the topics “children and parents”. In July 2022, ads in the news and media category brought in the most revenue.

My own TV

If the blocking of Western social networks for users did not become a big problem, then a possible ban on YouTube would have a significant impact on the habits of the audience. The Russian version of the video hosting was opened in 2007.

According to Brand Analytics as of October 2021, YouTube had more than 8.5 million authors (users who left at least one comment or posted content) from Russia, and the number of publications was 28 million per month. As of August 2022, the numbers have changed slightly – more than 6 million authors and 24 million messages.

Google division in Russia launched bankruptcy proceedings

At the beginning of March 2022, Google turned off ad serving in Russia. The ban also extended to YouTube. Bloggers lost part of their income, but the viewers received, in fact, premium accounts – no more videos were interrupted by advertising. But everyone was worried about the uncertainty whether the Russian authorities would block hosting or not.

Since the beginning of the military operation in Ukraine, YouTube, according to Roskomnadzor, has been distributing illegal content and has refused to moderate extremist videos with anti-Russian appeals. At the same time, the hosting blocked more than 54 Russian media channels. Later, the list was replenished with accounts of Russian parliamentarians.

Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Tolstoy called for measures to be taken so that “it was impossible to enter under any VPN.” State Duma deputy from Crimea Aleksey Chernyak proposed to close access there for at least ten years. The official representative of the Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the hosting “signed its own verdict.”

But there was no blocking. Talk about it completely died down in the summer. The head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Maksut Shadayev, assured that the authorities do not plan to close the video hosting. At least until a “competitive analogue” appears. Because “Russia must remain part of the global network.”

You does not change to Ru

Popular Russian YouTube channels, as it turned out, can suffer not only from the blocking of Roskomnadzor. In August, the video hosting removed the channel of Dmitry Puchkov, aka Goblin, for violating the hate speech policy. It was the third strike (warning) in 90 days, although Puchkov noted that he did not receive them. The channel aired videos on historical and political topics, film reviews, interviews and news releases. Shortly before the blocking, Puchkov announced that the channel had gained 3 million subscribers. The blogger has 281 thousand subscribers in the VKontakte community, 430 thousand in Telegram, and 122 thousand in Rutube.

Rutube, a Russian online service for hosting and watching videos, launched in 2006, has not even come close to the status of a “competitive analogue” yet. According to the results of the first half of 2022, the average monthly audience reached 22.5 million users, having increased by 396% compared to the same period last year, that is, four times, the press service of Gazprom-Media Holding reported. But the site is not yet comparable to YouTube and is much less profitable in terms of monetizing successful channels. In addition, if YouTube was originally aimed at the English-speaking audience, then Rutube intends to attract only the Russian-speaking audience. However, he still copes with the task of securing in troubled times.

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