Denis Terekhov: All about the Russian Social Media Market

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Denis Terekhov: All about the Russian Social Media Market

Denis Terekhov is a managing partner of the Social Networks Agency in Russia, which specialises in planning and executing complex strategies for the positioning and promotion of brands, personas, products, services, topics and meanings within social networks, the blogosphere and internet media. The agency was the first in Russia to provide a service for Social Networks Relations. In 2011 it was ranked third in overall media activity ratings for communications according to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC/Russia) and in 2012 Denis won the ‘Media Manager 2012’ for the ‘Innovations in PR’ nomination. In a conversation with RussianMind he told us about the current state of social media marketing in Russia:

RM: What are the fundamental differences between social network marketing communications and traditional PR?

DT:One of the main differences is the high speed of communication and connection of the communications in social networks. For example, it will take you more than a month to come up with a billboard design and to book the space for it. In social media you can make changes to a campaign in a few days or even in a few hours. Secondly you are pleased (or not) with the feedback from the social network users. If we go back to the billboard example, you don’t get all the criticisms from people who dislike the billboards. But when you are in social networks be ready to receive feedback from the people who are eager to analyse every campaign you make.

RM: Your business is quite diversified. Can you point out your key directions?

DT: We have 3 main directions. Firstly we have consulting and education. By education I mean launching new projects and teaching a client’s employees how to later maintain, for example, their Facebook page on their own. Secondly by creating and developing different services that help our clients to carry out complicated integrated projects. Thirdly and nothing to do with social media, is video production. We produce a lot of corporate videos and also make videos for several Russian and sputnik channels.

RM: Is there any social media education in Russia? Can you compare Russian SM professionals to their European counterparts?

DT: I can’t compare us with the European market. Unfortunately I don’t understand it. There are no systematic Social Media courses in Russia yet. And the reason is that this market is only 3-4 years old. I think that a good Social media professional (the same as any communication specialist) is a person who is able to communicate clearly, in an understandable way.

RM: There is an opinion that all PR tenders in Russia are prepaid and it is all about ‘under the table’ payments. Have you ever come across this?

DT: I think this is the view from the losers, who missed a tender because their project was too expensive or had poor content. Definitely there are tenders that are weird. And we think that we know the winner from the start but no one is banned from participating. As for the government tenders we almost never participate in those, because we are convinced that price should be the main criteria when choosing the agency, especially when it comes to such a specialist area as creative solutions.

RM: The latest research suggests that Russians lead in spending time on the Internet. But the experts predict that this is a temporary phenomenon and soon the Internet will become less popular. Do you think that this might affect your business?

DT: We try to diversify our business and get away from pure social media to digital-services. I think that we’ll achieve this in 2-3 years and we won’t depend so much on social media.














RM: Can you point out the reasons why large companies are interested in social media?

DT: First of all it is a new direct communication channel. Secondly it is an amazing way to get feedback. It is a focus-group that you don’t have to pay for and they want to give feedback about a product or service. Thirdly it is a new sales tool. It helps to narrow the distance between taking decisions and a consumer’s purchase.

RM: Today large international agencies are coming to Russia. Do you think that Russian agencies have ‘know-how’ that could interest foreign agencies?

DT: The problem is that foreign agencies don’t know the Russian market. It would be very strange if one day I’d decide to work in Mexico. Why do foreign agencies think that they can easily operate in Russia? When I was giving a speech on Communications in Davos I asked the audience if they knew about the bear that raises his hands and says “Preved” or if they knew who  “Fryazino witness” is? They went silent. How can they work in Russia if they don’t even know key names?

RM: Are there any taboos in social marketing? What should NEVER be done?

DT: I think there is only one restriction: you should never lie in social media, you should only tell the truth. Always. The rest is nothing.

RM: Do you plan to open offices in other countries? Maybe in London?

DT: I frequently think that we should open an office in London, Singapore, New York and also, perhaps somewhere in Latin America. But now unfortunately we’re only in Russia. Even the CIS projects are managed from Moscow. We have one global project but even with this we wouldn’t require someone in London. As I’ve already mentioned, fortunately or unfortunately we don’t understand the foreign market, but we know the Russian market very well. When we grow bigger and are able to understand people in London, Singapore, New York, Melbourne and Lima we’ll definitely open offices there. I hope it will happen sooner than I think now. 

Text by Ekaterina Poroshina