Those who make it to the net though show a high engagement and a surprisingly strong affinity to social networks. German Spiegel.online reports on Russian users being the world's champions in social networking, relying on data gathered by the international marketing agency com.Score. According to their findings, "of the 31.9 million people who accessed the Internet in Russia in April, 18.9 million visited at least one social networking site, representing a reach of 59 percent of the total online population". The average Runetchik spends approximately six hours a month on sites as Vkontakte or Odnoklassniki.ru, showing a clear preference for the domestic brands over its American 'predecessors'. Only two percent of Runet's total online population use Facebook.
Mike Read, managing director for comScore Europe, explains the popularity of social networks in Russia with geography: “In a country as geographically large as Russia, social networking represents a way of connecting people from one corner of the country to the other."
But certainly, I would add, other factors as cultural identity or political socialization might play an important role as well. So lot's of work and research to be done, part of which we hope to present in our autumn issue of The Russian Cyberspace Journal, devoted to - guess what - social networks in Eastern European media spaces. We'll keep you posted.