Monday, March 05, 2007

Merhaba from Istanbul!

Hello from Istanbul, Turkey! I am here for the First Word of Mouth Marketing Conference in this country's rich history. The conference is taking place at the swanky Swissotel Istanbul European banks of the Bosphorus and hosted by MediaCat.

The conference starts tomorrow and will feature three speakers from the U.S. (Dave Balter, George Silverman, and myself) and then two people from Turkey (Dr. Yanki Yazgan and Renan Tavukcuoglu). My speech will focus on WOM measurement (the three key points will be social media analysis, tracking conversational reach and outcomes, and the pros and cons of using likelihood to recommend scores to measure advocacy and ROI). Speaker bios are here. The organizers are expecting 400-500 [[UPDATE: 500-600!]] people and it's received quite a bit of press coverage here.

For example, this morning (Monday) I was interviewed for a business show that airs on CNN Turk called "Business Lunch." I was asked to explain what WOM marketing was, how it can be measured, and what companies in Turkey need to know about it. I hope to get the video as it was my first live TV interview (the last TV interview I did was for the Chronicle and I had the opportunity to ask "Can we try that one more time?" -- live TV is much more of a rush).

Here's what I have learned about WOM and social media in Turkey thus far, mainly from a representative from the UnitePR agency who made arrangements for the CNN interview:

- Traditional hotbeds of word-of-mouth activity are the marketplaces, such as the grand bazaar, and across the streets from balcony (cumba) to the next.

- Turkish people pride themselves on their rich historical traditions of being passionate storytellers (think Homer and Herodotus).

- On the social media front, blogs are around though they seem to be used much for discussing news items and politics. WOM seems to be most amplified via e-mail chains and groups. (Spam apparently used to be a problem here but due to the companies responsible realizing it really wasn't that effective, and better filtering technology, it's not such a big deal anymore.) Apparently there are some discussion forums that are popular discussing the issues of moms and kids. There don't seem to be any firms currently analyzing social media in Turkey now, at least to my knowledge (Nathan Gilliat hasn't identified any here yet). But I think it's only a matter of time.

- Rumors about certain companies seem to be especially prevalent, and most often spread through e-mail chains.
I hope to learn more especially from the Dr. Yazgan and Ms. Tavukcuoglu. Looking forward to tomorrow!