The level of internet penetration in Turkey is around 45 per cent, placing it outside of the world’s 50 most connected nations. According to one Intel study, over 71 per cent of 13 to 29 year olds live in households with a computer. Two thirds of those questioned viewed being social offline as equivalent to being social online. Three out of five people questioned had regular access to the internet (two out of five in rural areas). The report stated that Izmir had the most connected population, with almost 80 per cent of people having regular access.
However, strict internet laws make it very easy for websites to be blocked. In 2010 Reporters without Borders placed Turkey on a list of “countries under surveillance” for its attitude to press freedom. In May 2011 it reported that Turkey’s internet regulator had banned 138 internet keywords including the word free. The word pic has been banned because it may be short for picture in English, but it has a totally different meaning in Turkish. Turkey also blocks sites that mention the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
- Under half of Turkey has access to the internet
- Turkish authorities have strict rules on what cannot be said online
- Turkey is one of the more socially engaged nations in the world
- Facebook is the most popular site in Turkey, but it’s been reported that it censors certain politically sensitive words
- Twitter is popular in Turkey, with the most popular pages belonging to prominent personalities
- YouTube was banned for 30 months, and only allowed to operate when a Turkish language version, hosted in Turkey, was launched
- LinkedIn membership is increasing rapidly
- Almost 40 per cent of Google+ users are based in Istanbul
In October 2011, comScore reported that Turkish internet users spent an average of 10.2 hours on social networks that month. This made Turkey the fourth most socially engaged nation in the world. It has been reported that Turkish citizens are turning to social media channels in place of traditional media, which some feel is under more government control.
A rumour began circulation online in September 2012, stating that the Turkish government was considering blocking Facebook and Twitter at times of social unrest or disorder, but this was soon denied by official sources.
Facebook is the most popular website in Turkey, with over 40 per cent of the population using the network (more than 10 million of whom are aged 18 to 24). Turkey is the seventh biggest market in the world for Facebook.
The most popular pages are all sports related. Football club Galatasaray has over 7.5 million likes on Facebook, followed by Fenerbahce, which is a sports club covering multiple sports (more than six million likes) and basketball club Besiktas, which has more than 3.7 million likes.
In February 2012, it was reported that Facebook had a list of rules for Turkish content. It was reported that Facebook banned attacks on Kemal Atatürk, images of Turkish flag burning and maps of Kurdistan. Supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) could result in getting your account blocked.
Twitter is the sixth most popular website in Turkey, with around nine million users. The most popular accounts all belong to popular personalities. Turkish stand-up comedian Cem Yilmaz has a Twitter following approaching three million, while the President of Turkey has over 2.4 million Twitter followers. Turkish/American cardiac surgeon and TV personality Dr.Oz has around 20 thousand fewer followers than the President.
In June 2012 Turkish classical jazz pianist, Fazil Say, was charged with insulting Islamic values on Twitter. In September 2012, a Turkish couple used Twitter to get married. They exchanged vows by mentioning each other, and following the instructions of the mayor officiating the service.
YouTube is the third most popular website in Turkey. A December 2011 comScore report highlighted the popularity of online video in Turkey, when it revealed that in October 2011, Turkish internet users watched an average of 250.7 videos per viewer (coming fourth in the report, behind Canada, the U.S. and UK).
The three most popular YouTube channels belong to: a TV production company, Made in Turkey, which had more than 10.4 million video views; a TV gaff clip channel (more than 7.2 million views) and technology company Samsung’s Turkish channel, which has more than 3.1 million video views.
YouTube was banned for 30 months in 2008 (after users posted videos Turkey deemed insulting to the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk). In October 2012 YouTube agreed to operate in under a Turkish domain name for the Turkish market. This gave the Turkish authorities more control over the service in their country. YouTube described this as launching a Turkish language version.
More recently a minor social media controversy erupted when Turkish singer Atilla Tas released a song and video called Yamyam Style, in tribute to the South Korean global phenomenon Gangnam Style, which has almost 717 million views on YouTube to date. Unfortunately for Atilla Tas, his compatriots didn’t appear to be that keen on the song, which many viewed as an embarrassment. A social media campaign sprang up on YouTube (spreading to other networks including Twitter) which renamed him Athillas Thasos and claimed that he was Greek, not Turkish.
LinkedIn is the thirty-second most popular site in Turkey, having launched a Turkish language version in June 2011. In April 2012 it was reported that there were 1.3 million Turkish account holders, an increase of 67 per cent from September 2011.
Turkey was one of the first nations to take to Google Plus, with more than 372,000 signing up within the first three weeks of launch. There are approximately 1,018,529 users of Google+ in Turkey. Almost 84 per cent are male, and more than 54 per cent are 18 to 24. Twelve per cent are students and more than 39 per cent are from Istanbul.
- Turkish mobile brand Turkcell is one of the most popular brands on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- The most popular social pages either belong to domestic brands, or localised global brands
- Some brands like Turkcell and Volkswagen are starting to use social media to run campaigns
The three most popular brands on Facebook, in Turkey, are: Turkish mobile operator, Turkcell (more than two million likes); mobile, internet and TV provider Avea (more than 1.8 million likes); and car manufacturer Volkswagen’s Turkish page (more than 1.6 million likes).
Volkswagen is one of the brands that has used Facebook as a platform for a social media campaign. The brand used a flip book of 200 photos to create an interactive moving banner, which allowed people to ‘drive’ the VW Amarok via down a street depicted on a banner on the page. The car also drove past a large billboard with a ‘Like’ sign on it, allowing participants to become fans of the page.
The three most followed brands on Twitter are all Turkish brands. Mobile operator Turkcell (more than 282,500 followers); performance centre Babylon Istanbul (more than 252,600 followers) and the Twitter account of Turkish Airlines has more than 247,400 followers.
Turkcell launched a campaign using Twitter using a game. A picture of a prize covered with post-it notes appeared on a website, and each time someone read one of the notes, and tweeted them out with the hashtag #turkcelltweet, that note was removed. The more messages were tweeted, the more the prize was uncovered. The campaign generated more than 55,000 retweets over seven days.
The most viewed brand channels in Turkey on YouTube are currently all either Turkish brands, or local versions of international brands. Samsung’s Turkish channel is the most viewed branded channel with more than 3.1 million video views. Mobile operator Turkcell is also popular with over 2.5 million views. Finally, mobile, internet and TV provider Avea’s channel has more than 1.7 million views.
In April 2012 it was reported that 7,816 Turkish companies had a LinkedIn company page.
- The country is divided between Turkish and Kurdish people, with the vast majority Turkish
- Turkish is the official language
- English is the most dominant second language
- Sport features in the constitution and is very popular in the country
- Turkey is the only secular Islamic nation in the world
- Elders and members of the opposite sex are addressed formally unless a close relation or friend
- All major public holidays centre around the founder of the republic (Atatürk)
- There is increasing tension between those who feel that the secular traditions are being threatened and the government
In 2008 it was estimated that the Turkish population comprised 70 to 75 per cent Turkish and 18 per cent Kurdish people. Other minorities made up seven to 12 per cent of the population. Turkish is the official language; Kurdish is popular, with other minority languages also being spoken. English is the most widely used second language. Turkish is spoken by approximately 220 million people worldwide, and it’s the fifth most used language in the world, according to Turkey’s tourism board.
Sport is very popular in Turkey. One comScore report, conducted in February 2012, revealed that Turkey had the highest reach for spots sites in Europe (70.7 per cent). Globally, Turkey was second only to the United States, which had a reach of 70.9 per cent. Sport is so popular in Turkey that it’s even in the Constitution; article 59 states:
“The State takes measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages and encourages the spread of sports among the masses. The State protects successful athletes.”
Football is the most popular sport in Turkey, but it also has its own traditional sport. Yagli güres, otherwise known as oiled wrestling, dates back to 1065AD.
Turkey is 99.8 per cent Muslim, which contributes to the formal etiquette that is central to Turkish culture. (However, it’s also the only secular Islamic nation in the world.) The national flag is regarded as sacred.
Older people and opposite genders are addressed formally unless they happen to be close friends or relations, with older men being addressed with the title “Bey” and women with the title “Hanim”.
Public holidays include: National Sovereignty and Children’s Day on 23rd April; Ataturk Commemoration and Youth Sports Day on 19th May; Victory Day on 30th August (commemorating the victory of the Battle of Dumlupinarin 1922); and Republic Day (divided over 28th and 29th October).
The 19th May celebrations used to involve thousands of students performing in stadium ceremonies around the country, but this was changed in 2012 so that the majority of Turkish children took part in ceremonies at school instead (one reason being that it had started to impact children’s education).
The Turkish government refused to permit campaign groups holding their own rally in Ankara to celebrate Republic Day 2012, as campaigners had started using the day to demand change, and protest against the government for what they viewed as moving away from secular traditions. The official rally went ahead, and when the attendees tried to march to Atatürk’s Mausoleum they were attached by water cannon and tear gas.