Networking without borders
Russian social media is booming: recently I’ve experienced the impact of this tremendous growth on myself. Even though I am not extremely social and I am not that much into networking either, it’s hard not to get involved at some point.
“Could anybody give an injection to my cat?”
I live in north Moscow in a green, but slightly hectic area with many beautiful Stalinist-era buildings, Orthodox churches, parks, theaters, stray dogs, beggars, cars, dusty highways, immigrants from Central Asia, mentally unstable old ladies and other exciting things that Russia’s capital has plenty of. Apparently, loads of other people live here too. They have created a Facebook group called Airport/Sokol Da Neighborhood, which now has more than 5,000 members.
Do you think this is a quiet page? Oh, no! On the contrary its members are constantly offering advice, sharing information, posting pictures of melting ice and complaining about the weather. They’ve even organized a cost-free yoga group and a voluntary neighborhood cleanup. Basically, they are behaving the way good neighbors used to behave in Moscow ages ago. Now that street communication has almost died in Russia’s capital, I barely know the people that live in my building. However, online interaction among neighbors is flourishing.
Here are just a few examples of what they are writing about:
“Neighbors, could anybody give an injection to my cat tomorrow?”
“Bike thieves are back in the area! My bike was stolen an hour ago. Be careful!”
And my favorite one: “Can anybody please come to my place and remove the tick that bit me at the park? It’s almost midnight, my child is asleep and I can’t leave the house.”
According to the latest data released by the Kribrum monitoring company, Russian-based social media users make 30 million posts per day. The statistics include users of the most popular local networks vKontakte and Odnoklassniki (“Classmates”) as well as Russian users of Facebook and Twitter.
“Bla bla bla” Russian style
Obviously, there is an opportunity in a market that constantly inspires new projects. At the beginning of March 2015 an established filmmaker Yuri Grymov presented an Orthodox social network called Rublev.com. On the website one can pose questions to priests, use an Orthodox calendar, search for icons and prayers, and upload photos and videos of churches and monasteries.
A boom on the Russian market has encouraged the successful founder of two Russian radio stations to look beyond Russia’s borders. In May 2015 Arnold Uvarov is planning to launch a new social network called Blabla on the international market. According to him, the network will first appear in Britain and North America, and then will move to the other markets, such as Spain, Germany, South Korea, Japan and France. Strangely enough, the project might appear in Russia only after it is established internationally. Uvarov said he is planning to invest about five million euro in the project.
“It’s a bit crazy, because there is already a Blablacar network, and Uvarov could have some problems with the trademark name,” a top analyst at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) told me recently. “But I am not doing any forecasts about social networks anymore. They are just too unpredictable. Anything can be successful.”
The new project’s concept is not entirely clear yet, but it looks like Uvarov is planning to create a social network for “creative people” with users being able to support and finance each others’ projects through donations. Uvarov is hoping to profit from commission fees. The project is very ambitious, but soon we all shall see if Russian social networks abroad will enjoy the same popularity as social networking in Russia.
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