Russia’s own Instagram, Rossgram, leaves creators skeptical

  • Russian developers launch their own version of Instagram, Rossgram, after the app was banned by Meta.
  • Rossgram promises to be a place to socialize, do business, post news, and take on projects.
  • Creators are skeptical about the Russian clone and believe that it will not succeed in replacing Instagram.

On March 13, a day before the Kremlin officially blocked access to Instagram in Russia, a Telegram channel called “Rossgram – Official Community” was launched.

A day later – the first day of the ban – a message appeared: “On March 28, 2022 we will launch the Russian analogue of Instagram with its well-known features and mobile applications for Android and iOS.”

At first glance, the app’s design – as well as its name – looks very similar to the American original, including the logo colors, a bright pink and orange.

Rossgram promises to become an alternative for Russian creators, many of whom are left without their main source of income and describe their desperation at losing access to Instagram.

“It’s my job,” said Karina Nigay, who has over 1 million Instagram followers, as reported by The Washington Post. “Imagine you just got completely fired from work and you get no income at all, but at the same time you have expenses for your family, for your team, if you have subordinates, and then suddenly you have nothing to pay your team. “

Rossgram claims that it will reintroduce all the features that allowed them to make money on Instagram, such as: B. affiliate links, branded content and shops – and also new ones, like subscriptions and crowdfunding. However, many YouTubers are not convinced that Rossgram will replace Instagram.

Katya Konasova, who has over a million YouTube subscribers and almost 400,000 on Instagram, wrote on Telegram: “The [Rossgram] Logo looks like it was made with Paint and I still don’t understand who will actually use it.”

In an attempt to retain their audience and continue to make money, creators have flocked to other apps instead. Some have switched to messaging app Telegram and VKontakte, a Russian social network, and are organizing exclusive giveaways for their subscribers who switch to the new apps.

However, moving followers has proven difficult, and the user experience on Telegram and VKontakte is different from Instagram.

Despite the difficult situation, the makers of Rossgram are not convinced

Rossgram’s promises could offer a lifeline for creators who want to continue making a living from social media — if it works. However, some developers have said they are skeptical about many elements of the Rossgram project.

On March 17, creator Artem Graf posted a YouTube video in which he responded to the Rossgram announcement.

“Honestly, at first I thought it was a joke,” he says at the beginning of the video. “They literally just took the design from Instagram and photoshopped a new logo on it.”

Graf – who has over 350,000 subscribers on YouTube and nearly 100,000 on Instagram – told Insider in a Telegram message that most of his friends, some of them creators with millions of followers, responded to Rossgram’s news “with humor.”

There were a couple of elements that provoked this, Graf said. First, there was the Rossgram name, which felt both overly patriotic and an Instagram rip-off, and second, the narrow usage the platform would have.

“Instagram gave us the freedom to connect with the whole world,” he wrote. “Rossgram is intended as a ‘Russian social network’ that effectively cuts people off from the rest of the world.”

After speaking to other creators and hearing their reactions, he estimated that 90% of them were skeptical of Rossgram.

Another YouTuber, Denis – who asked to be identified by just his first name for fear of political repercussions – also has a successful YouTube channel where he has made several videos about Rossgram. In an email to Insider, he wrote that he was convinced the platform would turn out to be a joke. Like Graf, he perceived much skepticism towards Rossgram from other creators.

Preview of Rossgram's interface as it appears on the platform's Telegram and VKontakte channels.

A preview of Rossgram’s interface as it appears on the platform’s Telegram and VKontakte channels.

Rossgram.


In the comments on Graf and Denis’ videos, other users expressed their concerns.

“It will be the same as Rutube and YouTube,” commented one user. “I mean, it’s like a copy. But actually it’s never going to reach the level of the original.”

This is not the first time that Russian developers are trying to create national alternatives to “Western” social media platforms. Some of the most popular are YouTube dupe Rutube and photo app Snapster, which only existed from 2015-2017. Another Russian Instagram that will be called Limbiko also appeared recently.

For many developers, these iterations of existing apps feel doomed from the start.

“Instagram is already a whole community, a lifestyle, our memories, for someone it’s business and work,” said Sergei Plakidin, a social media marketer who uses Instagram to promote his business. “Rossgram, as we would say in Russian, reinvents the bicycle – that is, he recreates something that already exists.”

Plakidin was also skeptical about the speed at which the app was being developed: it was announced in mid-March and will launch in April, a schedule he says is unlikely to produce a quality product.

“It’s impossible to do anything remotely similar to Instagram in that time,” he said.

The makers of Rossgram are convinced of their project

While some influencers doubt, the app’s co-founders seem optimistic.

Rossgram’s Telegram page has 90,000 subscribers, and Aleksandr Zobov, one of the co-founders, told Russian news outlets that he expects one million downloads of the app within the next month.

In an email to Insiders, Zobov wrote that only the basic functionality of the app would be similar to that of Instagram, but nothing else – contrary to what the platform’s current presentation would suggest.

“Not a single line of code from this social network will be copied by us,” he wrote. “The design will also be different.”

Zobov emphasized that the app was intended for the “citizens of Russia” and wrote that the blocking of Instagram and the subsequent demand for the product were decisive for the developers.

“This moment probably comes only once in a lifetime,” he wrote. “It’s important not to miss it.”

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