vKontakte's New Marketing Campaign: Spamming Our Comments

vKontakte, the Russian clone of Facebook, recently went international by translating the site into 22 languages. The only challenge now is for the company to get the same sort of international brand recognition that Facebook has obtained. With Facebook’s current dominance it is unlikely that vKontakte will get the same type of recognition, however that’s not stopping them from trying. The latest campaign I’ve seen took place in the comments of our blog.

The comment which was recently posted on one of our news articles read as follows:

Hello, my name is Daria. I work and live in Moscow/Russia. Thing I like doing most are traveling and dancing. Maybe I’m going to your city) People describe me as joyful, kind and feminine. You can find me on FREE Russian social network HERE. Write me a message to find out more.
Sincerely, Daria Popova!

The URLs posted above each redirect to the English version of the site, found at VK.com. The homepage of the site counts the number of members, which is currently at around 45.9 million. The number however is little more than a rough approximation which updates at random intervals. For those of you that are programmers, the javascript used to calculate “the number of registered users” is as follows:

var memCount = 45911657;
var memPerSec = 2.41764248695;
function updateCount() {
next = -(1000 / memPerSec)*Math.log(Math.random());
memCountString = '' + memCount;
len = memCountString.length;
memCountString = memCountString.substr(0,len-6)+" "+memCountString.substr(len-6,3)+" "+memCountString.substr(len-3,3);
ge('memCount').innerHTML = memCountString;
memCount = memCount + 1;
setTimeout(updateCount, next);
addEvent(window, 'load', updateCount);

While the code isn’t really relevant to their new spam campaign, it was a random fun fact that I found while looking at the VK.com homepage. So what about the company’s spam campaign? It’s not limited to our blog. I did a quick search on Google blogsearch and found hundreds of articles over the past few days which have since been deleted. All of the articles had identical content. One forum thread which had not yet been deleted read:

Hi, guys! I very need you help.

There is one competition in social network (most popular in Russia). The winner will be human, who invite most people from west countries (and I guess all countries but Russia).

You should to register there, using ONLY THIS LINK: http://vk.com/reg9260608 and activate you account by SMS.

It’s not hard, but I have to win this game. PLEASE, ASK ABOUT IT ALL FRIENDS, AND ALL YOU KNOW, WHO USING INTERNET. I have to invite more people than all the rest

Please, guys.


Apparently the company’s expansion plan is to reward users that are most successful at recruiting Westerners! Just a few weeks ago Techcrunch wrote about the company’s international expansion plans. While I’m not sure of what reward the company is offering users, it appears that the best model to win the competition is through spamming the hell out of users.

The irony behind all of this is that the same people who just purchased around $300 million in Facebook stock are also large shareholders in VK.com. I’m not surprised to see them purchasing as much Facebook stock as possible though since Facebook should eventually dominate VK on all metrics. While there is just over half a million Facebook users in Russia, that number is up from 120,000 users back in December of 2008.

My advice to VK.com: if you’re going to make a last ditch effort, you should try making it without bombarding the internet with spam. You aren’t going to win any loyal users that way.