There’s a great article in this week’s NY Times magazine, titled "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy" (registration required). It is one of the best discussions of "ambient awareness" i have seen. If you are interested in social media, it’s a must read.
I generally refrain from writing too much about the Turkish internet market in this blog. I think it has too many conflicts with my job as an investor. However, the point I am about to make is an important one.
Turkish internet has had social web services since 2004, with Yonja. Afterwards, some of the dating sites were clever to incorporate some social media tools into their service, but going into 2007, there was no significant social web service without a dating angle in the Turkish market. This, in fact, was the primary need we’d identified at Mondus.net.
Mondus’s growth has been slower than anticipated. Facebook caught a spark in Turkey in mid 2007, and grew like an avalanche, to make Facebook the number two website in the country.
Facebook, along with Twitter, are the leading providers of "ambient awareness" services int he world. The "born on the web" generation has adopted these services as utilities, and in Turkey, as in the rest of the world, this need exists. Twitter does not really work in Turkey, due to limitations imposed by the mobile operators. And, Facebook, while massively popular, is not really used in the same way in Turkey, as it is in other parts of the world.
This last part is an important distinction, albeit a fuzzy one. I’d venture that less than 10% of Facebook users in Turkey would describe it, or any other web service, as an important channel for self expression or general communication in their daily lives. I’d also guess that this percentage would be much higher in the US or the UK.
The point is, Turkey is still missing an effective "ambient awareness" channel. My sense is that the service to eventually stake that claim will have to incorporate some unique cultural aspects of this country and not simply be a clone of the global services. The prize to attain is quite significant.