Like many people watching the awful events in Ukraine we (my Stickybeak colleagues and I) wondered how the war was being viewed in Russia, particularly given government control of media there.
Between 2006 and 2011 I spent a lot of time in Moscow when I was with PR firm Edelman. Russia was one of the hardest places to do business and our operation there ended badly, but during that time I made some good friends and was impressed with how much people wanted to get on and how much they wanted their country to move on.
I had messaged a couple of them over the last week or so and knew that they were very much against the war and really worried about what it would mean for them, their families and their country as well as being afraid for Ukraine.
So we decided to run a poll to see. We did not have the time or resources to poll a nationally representative sample, so we targeted Moscovites between the ages of 18-33 with a 50/50 male/female split; in other words, those born after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War and those in the heart of the most connected and most commercial city in Russia and probably those with the most to lose from sanctions and impending isolation from the rest of the world.
We launched the poll on Friday. Stickybeak works by recruiting respondents to polls via Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Ads Manager is the world’s biggest Ad platform and its targeting is trusted by the world’s biggest brands and most local of companies because it works so well.
Stickybeak has built its business on this technology in order to avoid the curse of professional panel respondents who answer survey after survey as a regular part of their income, which can mean they are less like real consumers or real people..
We drafted our ten questions, translated them and hit the button, which prompted our system to produce and launch ads in Russian aimed at our target group (anyone can do this by the way). Our system starts slowly as it learns which of our creatives is pulling in the best quality responses and all initially was going well. The first 30 polls were completed in a couple of hours and the system was about to step out of the learning period and into full recruitment mode when – everything slowed down.
Initially it looked like Facebook had been blocked by the Russian authorities but Instagram appeared to be going still, but by Sunday…..nothing – ’net’!
So there we are. For now, Stickybeak cannot operate in Russia, China or Iran, though pretty much everywhere else on the planet.
As for our poll of people in Moscow born after the Cold War, the results are below. Sadly there are only 48 responses; we were hoping for about 500. This number is obviously NOT representative even of this comparatively small Russian demographic, but the answers were interesting to us and I hope to you too. I have included the English translation of the Russian questionnaire.
We used the phrases ‘military actions’ and ‘hostilities’ rather than ‘war’ because we wanted to understand the reactions to the event rather than it’s nomenclature. The English translation below is from the Russian questionnaire, not the other way around, hence the slightly odd phrasing.
We decided not to poll Ukrainians as they probably did not need that sort of distraction. Instead we rented AirBnB apartments from them in support as it seems a great way to send money to people who very much need it