Russia is on the verge of social media explosion. Yes – Russia!
The former closed communist state is already the fourth biggest market in Europe for social networking. One of the main social networks in Russia, Odnoklassniki (Одноклассники) is reporting 30 million registered users. The site, which connects classmates, is used in both Russia and the Ukraine and attracts 8 million visitors each day.
The problem is these sites only allow Russians to speak with Russians and little interaction is taking place with the rest of the world. The internet is bringing down the ‘cyber walls’ across the world and it is beginning to happen in places like Iran and Russia.
Take for example the Twitter explosion currently happening around the recent Iranian elections and subsequent protests. Iranians flooded the site to get word out about police beatings and information to outsiders about social unrest happening in the streets of Tehran.
To make this social media explosion happen citizens need to network outside their borders. Recently, Facebook has taking a $200 million investment from Digital Sky Technologies, an Internet holding company with Russian roots. This will help Russians talk more outside their borders.
This social media explosion will not come from broadband access and home computers but from use on mobile devices like cell phones. Take for example this interesting statistic that Russian mobile phone penetration is a wacky 131.4%, so one in every three Russians has two cell phones!
What we are seeing with Iranians distributing information by social networks will grow from behind the iron firewall of Russia.