Many facts and activities since the devolution of the USSR have made and continue to make Russia unique in all aspects. Russia is a country that contributes significantly to the development of Europe and other continents around the world, from politics to the economy. Its capital (Moscow) has the most billionaires per capita in the world. Russians have invented tools and software that have assisted locals and other nationals in solving numerous problems or meeting needs.
However, the purpose of this piece is not to examine Russia’s economic and political prowess. Its purpose is to explain the ongoing media convergence strategy of private and public media organizations. Various policies and programs tailored to the media industry have assisted media owners and professionals in creating and capturing long-term value over the last decade. The industry’s liberalization has resulted in new forms of competition in the print and broadcast media spaces. It has also contributed to the development of locally produced technologies for print, broadcast, and digital journalism.
For example, some recent political decisions made by the Russian government resulted in the development of a few social networking sites. VK (Vkontakte) rose to prominence and saw a spike in usage during a political dispute with Meta, the company that owns Facebook. According to a recent study, it is the second most popular medium among Russian online users after WhatsApp. RuTube, which was established in 2006 and competes with YouTube, is similar to VK. The Russian developers also created Fiesta and Rossgram as Instagram alternatives. As a rival to TikTok, Yappy was created on November 29, 2022.
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There is no doubt Russian developers are providing some locally owned new media to the media sector in preparation for the anticipated and required convergence with the foreign ones toward rapid content distribution to local and international audiences. We found that 28% of the phases are for VK and 25% are for OK after analyzing 53 phases of convergence with locally developed social networking sites. Telegram and Zen are in third and fourth place in the convergence with the locally developed social media, with 21% and 17% of the phases, respectively. The top two spots held by VK and OK confirmed the earlier observation that they are the most popular local social networking sites.
With 8% and 2% of the phases for RuTube and Yappy, respectively, it is clear that media organizations are employing foreign competitors. For example, 28% of 39 phases of convergence with foreign developed sites are for YouTube, RuTube’s competitor. In these orders, social media such as Twitter (23%), Facebook (18%), TikTok (10%), Instagram (10%), Flipboard (5%), and Viber (5%) are also used.
Understanding how the industry is integrating social media by ownership and media type reveals that privately owned media companies are integrating social networking sites more than publicly owned businesses. Newspapers and radio stations each had 24 of the 61 traces of convergence found for private organizations, while television had 13 traces. The 22 traces of convergence found for publicly-owned organizations were led by radio stations and newspapers. The full nine traces of convergence for media organizations with both public and private owners are for television stations.
Overall, an analysis of 275 convergence traces from 18 media organizations reveals that newspapers (39.80%) and radio stations (36.40%) are the dominant media types that are converging with both forms (local and foreign) of social networking sites. Television stations trailed newspapers and radio stations with 31.40% of the traces.
Exhibit 1: Social media convergence by media and ownership pattern
Exhibit 2: Russian media convergence with local and foreign-owned social networking sites
They mostly converged with locally developed and growing social media networking sites rather than those developed in other countries and growing globally (see Exhibit 2). In this regard, when Russian media consider social networking convergence, the selected media organizations have primarily connected with VK, OK, Zen, and Telegram. Russian technology developers created these social media platforms. Less media organizations are using RuTube, which was created as an alternative to YouTube. It is obvious that Russian media organizations must connect with platforms with a rapidly growing global user base among the foreign social media. Many of them are using Facebook and Twitter. This suggests that Russian media organizations want to gain access to a wider audience than the national and regional audiences that can be provided by locally created social networking sites.
Expanding the frontiers of distribution and reaching audience
Russian media organizations, like their counterparts in other countries, are expanding their content distribution and audience reach strategy by engaging in some activities that are thought to be beneficial in achieving the desired results. From print to broadcast media, authors and management inclusion, book, cartoons, castings, content integration, content promotion, feedback, guest profiling, live chat, live concert, management inclusion, music request, online mobile phone conversation, other stations interlinked, partners’ websites interlinked, partners project, presenters and management inclusion, programme schedule, partnership project, readers’ interview survey, special projects and thematic channels are being considered and prioritised for creating the needed visibility, disseminating content and dynamic audience capturing.
Exhibit 3: Social media convergence by pattern of content distribution
Significantly, media organizations that use both offline and online content distribution patterns are more likely to use the identified social media than those that only use online content distribution. This implies that organizations with an online content distribution pattern believe that simply being on the Internet is enough to deliver and capture value for a local and global audience. On the other hand, traditional offline media organizations believe that using this approach alone is insufficient to ensure adequate content dissemination and capturing value in terms of gaining new audiences around the world and obtaining favourable advertisement placement from advertisers. Exhibit 3 shows that Russian media with offline and online content distribution patterns prefer locally developed social networking sites to foreign ones. The same pattern has been discovered for media organizations that primarily use online content distribution.
Fit and Sustainability
What is Russia’s strategy for media convergence? This question cannot be answered without considering the fit and sustainability of the previously demonstrated converging patterns in the Russian media market. From all indications, it is easier to conclude that the market’s approach to social media convergence aligns with government actions in some cases, as well as the strategic steps that organizations must take in the face of global media convergence trends. Meanwhile, the approach’s long-term viability would be heavily reliant on Russian technology developers’ ongoing innovation. What is Russia’s media convergence strategy now? Though this article focuses on the social networking site aspect of new media and/or emerging technologies, it is clear that Russian media convergence strategy is appropriation of vertical integration of local and foreign-owned technologies for hybrid visibility, content dissemination, and value capture.