Originally published on Sunday's Zaman
The share of digital marketing in the overall marketing mix in Turkey is expected to grow with the use of such new social media tools as Twitter, observers argue.
Studies show that digital marketing, which has emerged as a relatively more efficient and more affordable means of marketing, could deliver high returns in a very short time. This is proof that more companies are gravitating towards digital marketing in Turkey than in the past. Digital marketing -- which covers promotion through the Internet, cellphones and other interactive channels -- accounted for 7.1 percent of overall marketing in Turkey as of June 2011, according to the latest figures compiled by the Turkish Association of Advertising Agencies (RD). In separate data, the total amount of money that companies in Turkey spent on marketing increased by 20 percent in the January-October period over the same period in 2010. Social media experts say digital marketing is poised to secure steady growth in Turkey as the marketing tools in social media are quickly diversifying. This growth, however, may not help digital marketing replace conventional marketing -- TVs, papers and magazines -- in the medium run since traditional ways of marketing still have the strongest share in Turkey. The share of television marketing is, for instance, 58 percent, in the same RD survey covering the first six months.
Among the most preferred new social media marketing tools in the world, Twitter has an important place. Companies use Twitter by opening their own accounts to reach out to “followers,” a majority of whom are customers looking for the latest updates on products. Having a Twitter account can be relatively new for Turkish businesses, but some of the leading firms have already started using this method. Turkey’s largest GSM operator was the first Turkish company to open a Twitter account, and it has reached 40,000 followers in a short time. Other companies that followed Turkcell were Efes Pilsen and Garanti Bank. Turkcell has 38,200 followers on Twitter, while Efes follows with 13,280 and Garanti with 12,070. Company officials were not immediately available to comment on the benefits of their Twitter accounts for their businesses. The Media Monitoring Center (MTM) told Sunday’s Zaman that it would conduct a survey to examine this specific issue.
According to Günseli Özen Ocakoğlu, executive editor of Marketing Türkiye magazine, companies’ Twitter accounts may evolve into attractive digital advertising platforms. “When we asked Twitter’s founder how he planned to make money out of this media three years ago, he had no idea. But today it has become a prominent arena appealing to many firms.” “Twitter is still a credible social media platform that hosts many well-qualified, target-user profiles. Companies would love to reach these people,” Ocakoğlu commented. She said engaging with potential customers could attract new ones. One critical issue Ocakoğlu stressed is that companies should manage their accounts well -- i.e., they should post frequent updates if they want to see benefits in the long run.
Social media expert Zeki Gülen said companies, particularly those that think they lag behind rivals in social media, find such new tools as Twitter very attractive. “They are expecting to increase the popularity of both their companies and brands through various means, and Twitter is one of the best known examples of this. He joined Ocakoğlu and said companies should focus on maintaining sustainability and the popularity of their brands by an efficient use of Twitter. “It is crucial to maintain their credibility, and companies can do this by not harming privacy rights in the digital world.”
Buy a follower to boost your business?
However traditional it may sound, utilizing word of mouth has always been an effective marketing method for companies to increase their business, and the same trend works in the digital world, too. But there is one critical difference when it comes to the digital world. The grocery store in your neighborhood would not pay you for recommending his products to others, but companies in digital realms do. A software programmer from İzmir, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sunday’s Zaman he “sells followers” to companies on Twitter. “Some companies may opt to either pay a small fee to people to follow their accounts or simply ask us to do the same for them. … We have developed a new computer program that enables us to find followers and direct these to certain people, and firms on Twitter for a set amount of money in return.” He also has his own price chart: “We offer 500 followers for TL 20 and 1,000 for TL 40.” He shares the chart on his Twitter account. Noting that his method was first criticized by some at the beginning, he says this has helped companies increase their business to some extent.
Recent studies show following brands on Twitter can actually motivate people to recommend those brands. People who follow brands on Twitter say they are more likely to buy products from the brands they follow and are more likely to recommend those brands to friends, according to a new study by Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey. Among surveyed Twitter users who follow at least one brand on Twitter, 50 percent said they are more likely to buy products from brands they follow on Twitter.
Gülen said attracting followers in return for money may not be a reliable and permanent marketing style since “followers are not fully controllable, and they could easily ‘unfollow’ the firms.” “Buying followers on Twitter may not be a sustainable marketing option for companies in this regard. The companies should spend their time and money on finding and working with the right persons [social media experts] and better manage their accounts,” he added.
Moral discussions aside, there are people who support the “buy-follower” trend on Twitter. At the end of the day, getting an extra 10,000 followers is a great boom. No one follows a company with only, say, 100 followers, they say.