SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS IN TURKEY

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1 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS IN TURKEY June 2012

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3 About the Authors AYŞEGÜL TOKER is a professor of Information Systems at the Department of Management, and the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Boğaziçi University. She has research interests and various publications in the areas of social networks and media, mobile marketing, e-business and e-commerce, customer relationship management, and customer-knowledge management. You can contact her by at MİNA SERAJ is a Ph.D. candidate of marketing at Boğaziçi University and has a B.A. degree in Economics from University of Pennsylvania. Her publications and research interests include online consumer culture, social networks, social media marketing, and word-ofmouth. She also has professional marketing experience as well as consulting experience in many industries prior to her studies. You can contact her by at BURCU BIÇAKÇI ERSOY is a management consultant with the Istanbul office of Egon Zehnder International. She leads the Technology and Telecommunication Practice in Turkey and is an active member of the practice in the region. You can contact her by at

4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY With the development of online platforms, social media has emerged as one of the major communication means where consumers can interact with each other and with companies, products, or brands. This has helped remove significant communication barriers between businesses and people, shifting a significant amount of power to consumers. Consumers today have an effect in steering marketing strategies of companies through their feedbacks and involvement in product or service co-creation. This C2B influence needs to be understood by businesses thoroughly in order to better serve customers who express themselves in all kinds of social media platforms as well as to accomplish targeted business outcomes. The case of Turkey is particularly interesting as it is a hyper-active market in terms of social media consumer-adoption. Our extended study on social media trends in Turkey reveals crucial insights regarding the level of firms and areas of improvement: Market is consumer-driven, and social media strategies and applications are led by major players: º º The adoption in Turkey for the companies is mainly driven by consumers, their expectations, and their online behavior. º º There is competition orientation as well, where companies are urged by the activities of their competitors. Even though positioning by this external push factor of competition has become the norm, companies try to differentiate themselves by focusing on their consumers needs and expectations rather than by imitating their competitors. º º Market is shaped by major players and well-known brands in terms of social media adoption, but there is a great potential in long-tail businesses to gain market share and increase their brand awareness. Platform providers like Google believe in substantial opportunities for the small and medium businesses through social media applications. There is lack of engaging social media applications: o They are mostly information exchange and campaign management oriented. o In such plain platforms, consumers generally end up using their power of contagious influence for delivering their service related complaints and drive firms to focus on reputation and complaint management rather than consumerengaging social and cultural initiatives. The main strategic issue regarding social media marketing is the inefficiencies in terms of integration and alignment of the main functions, business units or departments for a common social media strategy: o Social media is mainly the accountability of marketing professionals and the listening to what the customer is saying online mentality is not internalized across the organization. 4

5 The unstructured social media data that has great potential to be transformed into enriched customer insights for strategic management is not tracked or analyzed properly. Our results based on the data collected from 145 companies show that there are three groups of companies incorporating social media to their businesses at different stages: experimenters, implementers, and strategists: Experimenters use some basic digital media tools and their social media applications facilitate information sharing and campaign management rather than providing interactive environments for consumers to share or co-create. Implementers, on the other hand, use standard Facebook profiles, Twitter or company pages as social media platforms. Simple interactive applications, mostly interactive games for promotions or small competitions, are available for entertainment and brand awareness purposes. Consumers use such firms Facebook and Twitter sites to complain about service failures or reflect their sentiments. Strategists are the top performers in their industries or pioneers of e-commerce businesses in Turkey. They are definitely more advanced compared to other firms and the social interactions they facilitate are geared towards relationship building and co-creation through hosting platforms such as discussion boards, blogs, and other content. In terms of social media usage, Turkey has been very active on the consumer side with businesses responding to them at various levels. The areas for which there are rooms for improvement are found as consumer engagement, integration across organization, and social media data analysis, which can further enhance consumer experience as well as business results. As Charlene Li, one of the experts in social media and the author of Groundswell, mentions: companies have learning potential from such platforms through dialogues, support provided to customers, and innovation opportunities. Turkish social media market seems to be effective in generating one-to-many communications, but can further improve in consumer driven dialogues, customer support service platforms, and innovation possibilities that motivate co-creation. With such an active consumer base online, it can be safely posited that any aforementioned efforts in improvement areas on the business front are expected to pay back immensely. 5

6 SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS IN TURKEY The case of Turkey is particularly interesting as it is a hyper-active market in terms of social media consumeradoption. Internet penetration rate in Turkey exceeds forty percent making it the fifth in Europe as to the total number of online users and the third as to the total number of hours spent on the internet at thirty-two hours per month 1. Global statistics show that, with more than 30 million members, 2011 Facebook usage in Turkey ranks the first among all countries including United States of America, Indonesia, and India 2. Around 87% percent of Turkish internet users are already members of Facebook 3. Therefore, as a growing market with high social media penetration, the case of Turkish businesses contains a big potential to understand the growth opportunities for firms in social media. Yet, our findings show that despite the high level of activity online, the social media evolution is still at a premature stage due to inadequate adoption levels of firms. This study has been conducted as an extension of our Digital Media Trends in Turkey report 4 (published by Egon Zehnder International Turkey in April 2012) to shed further light on social media marketing applications and reveal the major strengths and weaknesses of the businesses in terms of adopting and applying social media practices. Methodology The research commenced with a qualitative approach where 14 companies that are major players in the Turkish industry were interviewed to lay out insights about social media adoption. Later a survey was conducted with around 275 companies. Initial responses covered around 100 respondents with only 60% of them giving feedback related to their social media strategies and applications. The second round of data collection increased this number to a total of 145 respondents with 103 companies fully answering the questions on social media which enabled us to draw conclusions about social media practices in Turkey. Findings Social media is promising, especially Twitter and online communities... Social media is definitely a major influencer in strategic management and marketing in Turkey. Among various channels of communication, it is one of the most preferred methods of interaction with the consumer: 84% of companies are currently utilizing it as a platform and it has the highest growth potential with 13% of our respondents mentioning that they have the intention to further adopt it in the future, leading to a total of 97% mass who realize its critical role (Figure 1). Facebook is the most popular means of social media with the highest rate of present use (Figure 2). Accordingly discussion forums, blogs, adgames, and third part e-commerce site currently have the least part in social media applications, and except for blogs, they do not seem to promise a lot for the future. On the other hand, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, online communities, and brand communities have the highest potential for future social media marketing applications. 1 Internetworldstats 2011 Internet Usage in Europe, (http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm#top) 2 Social Network Popularity Around the World, ( 3 Turkey Facebook Statistics, (http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/turkey) 4 6

7 100% 90% 80% 70% 55% 62% 60% 50% 84% 79% 97% 87% 84% 86% 40% 3% 30% 10% 20% 10% 0% 42% 9% 5% 11% 13% 2% 1% 28% 6% 8% 13% 4% 7% 7% Face-to-face Call Center Paper Mail Website SMS Social Media Events Currently using Planning to use Not using, no plans to use Figure 1: Communication Channels and Future Orientation 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 87% 9% 4% 58% 32% 10% 40% 53% 32% 21% 26% 28% 29% 29% 42% 40% 32% 28% 48% 28% 24% 65% 18% 17% 47% 15% 39% 84% 5% 11% 33% 13% 54% 72% 14% 14% 33% 24% 43% Facebook Twitter Youtube Blogs Currently using Planning to use Not using, no plans to use Discussion Forums Online Communities Own Brand Community Mobile marketing Company website (with e commerce) Company website (without e commerce) Other e commerce sites Digital portals Adgames Figure 2: Social Media Channels and Future Orientation 7

8 Budgets seem low, but are they really? When the budget allocations of survey companies are analyzed, 70% state that their digital marketing budgets are below 10% of their total marketing expenditures (Figure 3). Even though, this is much below the global average of 27% 5, it should be emphasized that surveys were conducted with the major players that managed some big brands in their industries. Since such brands have considerable marketing budgets, a 5-10% digital marketing budget, most of which is spent on social media, is actually quite substantial. 6% 2% 9% 13% 43% < 5 % 5-10 % % % % 100% 27% Figure 3: Digital Marketing Budget Allocations 5 Excerpt from Revealing the impact of online advertising for FMCG brands, by GFK, October

9 Strategically oriented: YES, but how about company-wide integration? In terms of strategic approach, most organizations do follow the latest digital marketing trends (74%) and their top management supports their digital and social media marketing incentives (69%) (Figure 4). In terms of integration among departments, with 53% of the respondents agreeing that they are competent in realizing cross departmental action plans, there seems to be a development area to further increase strategic effectiveness. This is especially interesting, considering the fact that 90% of the respondents state that they are highly customer relationship oriented with clear strategies and collaboration of all departments. When it comes to social media marketing, companies have some way to go for integrating company-wide strategy and operations, similar to the needs of successful CRM. With the arrival of Social CRM concepts, initiation of further company-wide integration on social platforms seems imminent but needs thorough consideration to be successfully implemented. 100% 90% 80% 30% 28% 10% 70% 60% 43% 50% 40% 44% 41% 30% 20% 10% 0% 16% 24% 9% 4% Our organization understands and follows the latest trends in digital marketing and social media Our top management understands, owns, and supports our digital marketing strategies 28% 17% There is a good level of integration between the departments in our company in digital marketing strategy execution Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree or Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree Figure 4: Digital and Social Media Strategic Orientation 9

10 Engagement, engagement, engagement... The key to social media success It is not social media we are talking about if interaction among participants is missing. Turkish businesses especially need to focus on this aspect to become more effective as social media strategists rather than becoming mere implementers. While 68% of our respondents agree that they use social media effectively in line with their company strategy, this drops to 35-40% for engagement related issues (Figure 5). 100% 90% 18% 15% 9% 8% 10% 27% 80% 70% 32% 32% 30% 24% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 50% 37% 36% 32% 22% 26% 19% 14% 8% 3% 3% 4% 4% There is a high level Online relationships / There are major of interactivity social ties are among our SM formed through our members SM application We use social media effectively in line with our company strategy influencers (mavens) in our SM network (independent of our company) 25% 28% 14% Social media data is integrated with other marketing and CRM systems of our company Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree nor Disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree 40% 11% 18% 5% There is a specific procedure that we apply when there is a complaint by a consumer on our SM platform Figure 5: Social Media Marketing Engagement Variables 10

11 Topical informational exchange 85% Relationship building and social ties 43% Specific online community culture 32% Identity management 19% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Figure 6: Social Media Activities Provided to Consumers C2C interactivity, formation of social ties among consumers, and existence of influencers on social media platforms seem to lack even in most of the big players. This is evidence that implementers and strategists of social media in Turkey need to consider consumer engagement further to fully exploit the benefits of online platforms. Otherwise, social media will stay as another means of traditional one-to-many message delivery channel rather than providing possibilities for community formation and enculturation that will enhance consumer loyalty and innovation opportunities. 43% of companies we surveyed mention that they make use of relationship building properties of social media, 32% say they motivate formation of community culture, and only 19% inspire identity management - personal information exchange and profile establishment (Figure 6). Social media in its current form serves mostly as an informational exchange channel with a lot of potential to become much more than what it is today. 11

12 We are what we measure Another critical issue that stands out is social media data analysis opportunities for Turkish companies. Even though, most players are active in social media platforms, they are there to disseminate information and not as much to collect it. The consumers are expressing themselves everywhere: on company related social media platforms or elsewhere. The word-of-mouth created by social consumers is immense and has the greatest power on consumer choices. 55% of respondents in this survey agree that they somehow track consumers voice and 43% use analytical tools to do so. Tracking and data collection are done through agencies and vendors as 85% of companies prefer outsourcing such services (Figure 7). Taxonomizing such collected data into categories based on business goals is even less with only 40% of companies doing so. Of course, without classifications and analytical tools at hand, providing internal and external action plans in response to customer feedbacks and developing insights stay at moderate levels. 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 38% 25% 28% 19% 21% 20% 21% 31% 31% 15% 21% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 27% 18% 8% 9% We track consumer feedbacks on major social media platforms 16% 14% 25% 13% 18% 21% Use of analytical tools or systems to monitor and extract knowledge from SM We classify collected social media data into specific categories aligned with our strategy 26% 12% 31% 9% 11% 9% We take internal action(reorganizing processes, improving products or service, etc.) according to feedbacks Never Rarely Sometimes Usually Always We take external action (align advertising, redetermine digital media messages, etc.) according to feedbacks 26% 17% 21% We monitor social media ROI and effects of overall company performance Figure 7: Data Analysis and Action Plans in Social Media 12

13 Self-awareness is the greatest virtue for further improvement 26% of the businesses classify themselves as beginners, 47% as intermediate players, 22% as advanced players, and %5 as experts (Figure8). These self-reported classifications are quite parallel to how companies can be clustered in terms of engagement, integration, and analytical competence. Therefore, we provide three stages of social media adoption that businesses are going through: experimenters, implementers, and strategists. Figure 8: Social Media Level Self-Rating by Companies Experimenters use some basic digital media tools and their social media applications facilitate information sharing and campaign management rather than providing interactive environments for consumers to cocreate or share. Social media data is not integrated into CRM systems and firms in this group lack processes to handle any kind of unstructured data provided by social media. Implementers, on the other hand, use standard Facebook profiles, Twitter or company pages as social media platforms. Content sharing is mostly done by forwarding information, and is nothing close to co-creation of content or value. In return, consumers do not actively engage in contributory conversations, which cause interactions to fade away or end up in futile chatter. Simple interactive applications, mostly simple interactive games regarding promotions or small competitions, are available for entertainment and brand awareness 13

14 purposes. Such applications are geared toward increasing brand loyalty, ewom, and positive experiences with the company. Social media data is tracked but not thoroughly aligned with company strategies. Therefore, the unstructured social media data is partially analyzed and not fully utilized. Consumers use such firms Facebook and Twitter sites to complain about service failures or just to make simple positive / neutral / negative comments without much content. However, detailed processes for handling these complaints are not outlined. Strategists claim that they are the most effective users of social media in the Turkish market. Usually they are the top performers in their industries or pioneers of e-commerce businesses in Turkey. They are definitely more advanced compared to other firms and the social interactions they facilitate contain more relationship building and co-creation platforms such as discussion boards, blogs, and other content sharing and creating opportunities among consumers. Social media is a part of strategists marketing plans and they have completed their organizational structures to fit into their digital strategies. Various electronic social platforms, mobile applications, and CRM processes are processed and assessed together to develop their businesses. Their processes are generally focused on complaint management and they are quite good at it. Strategists are well aware that influencers on social media do have power to affect their audiences significantly. However, there are also development areas for strategists: despite their success in data analysis, strategists struggle in converting social media data into consumer insights. Even though there are internal and external action plans in response to feedbacks and activities online, their social media strategy is not integrated into their corporate strategy. Moreover, their applications are not geared towards building a specific online community culture and are short-term oriented. What Lies Ahead? Social media is flourishing at a fast pace in Turkey. There is a lot that has been accomplished, but there is still a lot to do. The potential is great for sure. What seems to be beneficial for companies to focus on are: Providing engagement opportunities and online support where consumers can get into dialogues with each other rather than just be exposed to information present on traditional media, Integrating social media marketing activities through all functions, business units, and departments in the company with top management support, Using sophisticated tracking and analyzing tools to turn unstructured social media data into customer insights, Co-creating together with consumers through engagement, integration, and analysis. In short, it is up to the businesses to create a truly social media. Luckily, an active consumer base is ready to act on the initiatives provided by the businesses and experiment with them on the way to progress. We seem to be standing at just the beginning of what technology has to offer us, this time involving businesses, consumers, third parties, academia, and governments. The boundaries have vanished and the rest is up to us all. 14

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