Since its official launch in Russia in April this year, Facebook has become the trendy social network of choice – it's the go to place for intellectuals and the cutting edge, iPhone and iPad users trimming their sales to the global winds. The userbase has doubled, reaching 1.6 million already.
The launch was followed by a few spontaneous FB Parties, but only now it has come to its first official event on September 9 – Facebook Developer Garage.
It took place at WinZavod, a newly created art district in Moscow in a hangar that really resembled a garage.
There were a lot of people – hundreds including almost all the celebrities of Russian Internet: developers, entrepreneurs, investors.
The opening intro movie showed the key figures and faces of the promoted Facebook Platform.
Angela Zaeh (International Growth Manager, Facebook) welcomed everybody and presented the Head of the Russian office – Ekaterina Skorobogatova, all wearing their classical Facebook T-shirts.
It got down to the technical details with the presentation of Russian-speaking Facebooker Vladimir Fedorov from the head office in Palo Alto, CA. He talked about social widgets, but it seems that the main part of the audience already knew that thanks to their own practical experiences.
But the Q&A session was fun: a girl from the Russian version of global fashion magazine Cosmopolitan asked about the possibility of branding pages with the colour pink. The answer was "no" as it would confuse users – consistent ‘blue & white’ is much more convenient to them.
Also people were interested in searching with the dot in a query – for finding all the messages with links to a website, for example ‘kommersant.ru’, that for sure has dots in the domain name.
Ilya Shpankov from Opera Software announced a contest for developers for the best Facebook widget for Opera browser. That would be the first joint project of the two companies’ Russian offices.
Arthur Welf is a famous Russian journalist on Kommersant.ru and an active Facebook user. He brightly and clearly explained why you need Facebook integration for your content project. The point was simple – "If your friends like something, it’s very highly probable that you're gonna like it too and vice versa! So let the people on your site to show their likes with friends!"
Elena Kuznetsova from popular lifestyle project Afisha.ru – which has an audience of more than 4 million users a month - shared her practical experience of Facebook Connect implementation. Some of the examples: when you rate a movie on Afisha.ru, the rating goes right to your Wall. The results seem impressive: traffic from Facebook grew 4 times since April, giving 10000 extra external links every month! Audiences from the social network appeared to be the most active on the project and Kuznetsova said: "I think we hit the bull’s eye! This audience is right from our dreams!"
The next was a real maverick, German Klimenko, the owner of one of the leading web-analytics projects liveinternet.ru. This day he also represented the investment fund with a focus on applications for social networks. He manages that fund and revealed some figures – for the month and a half they’ve received 40 offers, 39 of which were for the games. In the offers everyone said the same: "We have already developed X social games and would like to develop the X+1. Give us $30.000 for development and $30.000 for promotion!". Klimenko said it wouldn’t work out, cause the fund would never give money to ‘losers’ that haven’t earned money on their previous ‘X games’. He finished with an appeal to developers of ‘normal’ applications for social networks with the words: "Come, we want to give you money!"
Then came the successful game developers Progrestar (http://progrestar.com/). They’ve launched the game ‘Digger’ in three main Russian social networks (vKontakte.ru, Odnoklassniki.ru and MoiMir@Mail.ru) having a million users in the first two weeks.
Recently the company decided to launch it within Facebook, aiming at the global market. The Facebook version of Digger was translated to three extra languages besides the original Russian: English, Turkish and Spanish. Also, Progrestar was the first Russian developer to implement Facebook credits as a payment system. It’s interesting to see how it would be going with the app in the big blue ocean of Facebook.
It was clear that this event paved the way for future Facebook activity in Russia, giving it an opportunity to enter the podium of social networks here, at least in the biggest cities like Moscow and St.Petersbourg.
And the Russian audience would definitely benefit – competition between social networks spurs changes for the better, as we have seen since the official launch of Facebook to Russia in April this year.