In their research of 20 global markets, including those of USA, UK, France, Germany, China, Brazil, Japan and Russia, Universal McCann claims that more than 50% of network population uses social networks and Web 2.0.
The research elicited great differences among the countries and referred them to the mentality and the level of available technology. The Chinese, for example, communicate mainly through user communities. They are hyper-responsible for every word typed and stick to rigid communication principles due to the total government control over the Internet in their country.
European users, on the other hand, value individualism and an opportunity to express their opinion.
Russian Internet users are very active in putting their views into words and sharing them with their friends and over users, even complete strangers. They are inclined to commenting other users’ entries and are more active about it than users, especially those without their own blogs, in other countries on average. An interesting Russian feature is obvious interest in discussing such impersonal topics as politics, arts, or history.
While in most countries blogs are a form of a dialog, Russians use them mainly for self-expression. They prefer to communicate through instant messengers (e.g. ICQ), which are used by 75% of Russian users vs. average 66% in other countries. IP telephony is also rather popular in Russia (39% of users vs. 38% on average worldwide). Future is bringing more communication opportunities apart from text ones (IP telephony, multimedia messages, etc.). The biggest social network MySpace, with its 220 million registered users, for example, has already introduced phone calls through Skype into its instant message service.
Web logs written by other people are read by overwhelming 73% of Russian Internet users against average 65%. This figure has increased by 14% compared to that in September 2006. More dramatic is the increase in keeping personal blogs, which is twice the number of blogs in 2006. The most popular Russian services of this kind are LiveJournal and LiveInternet with about 1.2 million Livejournal.ru users in the russian segment and more than 1.5 thousand blogs appearing every day.
In Europe, the blog creating index is close to maximum as the dynamics is much lower than in other regions. In Russia, there is enough space for potential growth of the number of blog users up to 30% of all regular internet users.
Multimedia services with photo and video materials are equally popular all around the world. Among them, video broadcasting has rocketed in Russia up to 57% respondents watching videoclips online (against 22% in Russia in 2006 and 61% in the other countries). Leaders here are also China, Malaysia and South Korea.
Podcasts (audio files for online listening) are not as popular. In Russia only as little as 12.6% respondents use this service. The average, though, is 22% with the UK at the top (the same 22% of users downloading podcasts).
Multimedia applications including VOIP, podcasts, photo- and videoblogs are likely to become the paramount direction in Web 2.0 development in Russia in the near future. Universal McCann might witness considerable growth of the demand for simple and accessible services with a wide range of features to locate and watch photo and video information (e.g., online editing, full screen, big private album, etc.).
Social networks are quite popular in Russia, even more than blogs. As many as 41.7% of respondents participate in them, which is the highest result among European countries. The main markets here are Brazil (75% of respondents) and Mexico (64%). However, Russia as well as South-Eastern Asia experiences certain stagnation and interest saturation, so serious increase in social networking is hardly possible in the future. However such resources as Odnoklassniki.ru, Moikrug.ru, Vkontakte.ru are enjoying growing popularity making it possible for users to form their own social networks and join those of their friends. In Russia we can expect more specialized sites with a wide choice of discussion groups and new features (e.g., video downloading, incorporated message exchange services, keeping private information).
To sum it up, the main Russia’s rates are at least average. The most impressive dynamics in the recent 9 months has been achieved in using multimedia services (locating and watching video clips and photos). Whereas such activities as reading blogs and participating in social networks (forums, communities, conferences), according to the research, has come to a saturation point.