Turkey: Surprisingly, One of the Largest Social Media Markets on Earth


In many ways Turkey is a paradox, as it is a Muslim country where liberal Westernized ways are deeply integrated into the culture and where various social media sites such as YouTube have been banned for two and a half years, while others like Facebook are largely left alone. The love affair Turks have with their social networks runs deep within the national psyche and with the proliferation of mobile devices, it shows no sign of flagging. Digital print technology and consumables marketers to the Turkish market should understand the dynamics of the nation’s dedication to its preferred social media platforms in order to maximize their efficacy in this expansive yet unique national market.

Facebook use is nearly universal

It may seem difficult to believe but 96 percent of all internet users in Turkey are Facebook members, a percentage which is nearly unparalleled anywhere in the world and which makes the nation the fourth largest in world usage of the site. Turks are huge fans of Mr. Zuckerberg’s social creation and they make the best of it, as nearly three out of five of them access Facebook every single day and rack up 40 billion page views every month. Social media usage in Turkey, whether based on the online access granted by desktops and laptops or on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, has become nearly universal and has markedly changed the culture of the nation in just a few years. Even though the penetration of smartphones into the Turkish market lags behind many other developed nations, Turks have largely turned to web apps such as “Facebook For Every Phone” which allows users of older cellular phones to readily access Facebook just about as well as any iOS or Android owner.

YouTube was banned for years

The Turkish government’s widely panned vendetta campaign against YouTube sparked a massive popularization in the nation of modifying the various internet connection parameters to apply alternative DNS servers. That is why even at the height of the government ban YouTube remained the number eight most accessed website in Turkey. Now that the ban is over, Turkey is still responsible for 88 million video views on a monthly basis, but here too Facebook takes the lion’s share of the market as it represents the number one largest video sharing platform. This factor calls into question the entire situation of the government ban of YouTube. It seems rather absurd for a ban to be imposed on a single video sharing site, when the same videos are viewable on Facebook. This was not a case of government favoritism of one platform over the other, but a knee-jerk reaction which was implemented by officials who really did not have a working understanding of what online video viewing is all about.

Higher percentage of LinkedIn members than the entire workforce

The overwhelming Turkish preference for conventional social network platforms such as Facebook extends to the professional market as well, as LinkedIn has a massive market share. In fact, the fastest growing nation of all when it comes to LinkedIn memberships is Turkey, where it is primarily utilized as a social media channel for professionals, rather than a way to search for particular executives as is common in the United States and Europe. The market penetration for LinkedIn is 34 percent which is truly astounding when you consider that it is a primarily executive search engine and that figure by far exceeds the number of professionals in the nation. In fact, based on a total population of 78 million, that 34 percent equals 26.5 million and that’s a higher number than the total employed labor force in the country!

Twitter is subject to various government block orders

Google+ has made considerable inroads in Turkey recently, with 75% of all online Turks holding one of the Googleplex’s accounts. Just behind Google+ is Twitter which has a Turkish market penetration of 72%. Of all of the mainstream social media networks, Twitter is among the most controversial as it is the preferred method of communication among the revolutionary, anti-government protestors which has made the service fall within the purview of a government which seeks to silence these methods of communication among its “enemies.” The means utilized by the Turkish government are certainly effective. When two anonymous Twitter accounts with over 400,000 followers each recently were utilized to release conversations which were secretly recorded and implicate various family members and associates of the nation’s prime minister and other top officials, the government demanded that Twitter block the accounts from access within Turkey and the company complied.

Sport ranks high within Turkish social networks

Sport is one of the driving passions of the Turkish nation and this factor is readily acknowledged when you note that out of the top five Facebook pages, two are taken up by the country’s leading soccer teams, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. This factoid is even more impressive when you consider that the United Kingdom which is the home of the Premier League and widely acknowledged to be one of the most soccer mad countries in the world, doesn’t have a soccer team anywhere within it’s top ten Facebook pages! Soccer stars like Gorkan Gonul, Nuri Sahin, and Tuncay Sanli are hugely popular on Twitter and regularly rank among the site’s most followed Turkish celebrities. When it comes to Twitter brands, the ecommerce etailer Sevdim Bunno is the number one commercial page on the service, Volkswagen is the most popular Twitter automotive brand, and the national carrier Turkish Airlines appears not once but twice on the top six top Tweeters: their domestic channel and their global feed are separate and both very highly followed. 

Favorable conditions for online marketing in Turkey

The primary considerations for digital print technology and consumables marketers when it comes to the level of development of the Turkish online market are certainly favorable. They include:

  • Payment methods – The nation is highly advanced in not only credit, debit, and prepaid card usage but also in online wallets where BKM Express and iPara compete with Paypal.
  • Mobile banking – The uptake of mobile banking has nearly reached the saturation point, and is at a higher level than any of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Even more stunning is the fact that Turkey is the most advanced nation in Europe when measured by the level of mobile banking adoption.
  • Social media use – Turkey is the world’s number seven user of social networks which is extremely surprising given that the nation has only 78 million people. Mynet is a leading national social internet portal which is utilized by three out of every four Turks.
  • Search engines – To an even greater degree than many other countries, Google owns the search space outright with a penetration exceeding 99%. Even local focused search engines such as Yandex simply can’t muster anywhere near the numbers to be considered serious competitors.
  • Efficient logistics – Of significant importance to digital print technology and consumables marketers is the prospect of actually getting their goods to their Turkish customers. To that end, there are various major national players with excellent service records, including Kargo, Yurtici, MNG Kargo, and Aras.

Strangely, one statistic where Turkey considerably lags behind many other nations is in the number of Turks who engage in online purchases. Even though there are more than 10,000 ecommerce etailers operating in the country, only 4 percent of all Turks have ever made a purchase online. However, this is swiftly changing as the rate is expected to exceed 25% by 2016. As the rate of online buyers catches up with the nation’s social media usage, Turkey is certainly on track to become a primary market for digital print technology and consumables marketers.

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