The battle for social network dominance in Russia is heating up.
Yandex, the Russian Web search giant, announced on Tuesday it had struck a deal with Facebook to incorporate some social data into Yandex users’ search results. That means Yandex users in Russia, Ukraine and a handful of other commonwealth countries (CIS) will begin to see public Facebook posts when using Yandex’s search engine.
It’s a big deal for Facebook, which for years has fought hard to gain footing inside Russia as a widely used social network. But Facebook’s biggest challenge is VK — or Vkontakte — the incumbent social platform most popular with users. In a sense, Mark Zuckerberg considers VK a form of flattery — a giant ripoff of Facebook.
“They’ve made such an awesome clone of Facebook it’s been hard to beat them,” Zuckerberg said at a startup event last October, in a thinly veiled swipe at VK. “It’s almost been 10 years since we started Facebook, and we still haven’t beaten them in Russia.”
Teaming up with Yandex — essentially the Google of Russia, and the most popular site in the entire country — will likely give Facebook a jumpstart to growth if it can weave relevant social results like public status updates and, eventually, status comments into the fabric of Russian search results.
It also follows directly in line with Facebook’s public content initiative, the company’s push to make publicly shared Facebook data more widely available.
In that vein, VK also announced a deal on Tuesday, giving social data provider Gnip access to the VK data firehose. Gnip’s business is providing insights to brands and marketers about the most-talked-about items across social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, among others. The aim is to give quick results on trending topics, ultimately in the service of aiding marketing campaigns.
Ideally for VK, that will give global marketers just as much reason to pay attention to its social network as they do Facebook for brand and topic chatter.
Expect to see Facebook’s posts in Yandex search results starting immediately.