Turkish social media pioneers play it big

Turkish social media pioneers play it big

Followers of this column know that I have been searching for some Turkish start-ups that could go global. I think I have found three in the last couple of weeks.

The first is mekanist.net, a website that enables readers to read users comments and ratings about different venues in different cities. It has huge potential to grow, as many of its capabilities as a social tool have not yet been tapped. It is one of the prime examples of the social buying phenomenon. It is scientifically proven that if someone you trust recommends that you buy something or try a new restaurant, the chances are much greater that you will actually act upon the advice than any method of advertising.

The two other treasures that I have found recently are totally different in nature. One is connected2.me. Connected2.me lets users chat anonymously. When you create an account you are given a profile and a webpage (e.g. connected2.me/username) that allows you to connect with whoever visits your profile. You share your profile address with your friends. When they come, they are given anonymous nicknames, so you don’t know who you are chatting with. Users may also choose to share their links publicly in order to meet new people. The service already has more than 350,000 users, and its user base is growing each hour. According to founder Ozan Yerli, aside from Turkish people, Argentineans are also big fans. The number of Argentinean visitors went from 0 to 120,000 in five days. I have been using the website for a few days and it is really fun. It reminds me of chat roulette, but it is much more decent. From my experience I got the impression that the general user age is around 12-18, so for me it is harder to find someone to chat with, but it seems that youngsters are using the website day and night, as some users have become connected to thousands of people in just a few months. This is the most important sign that connected2.me will go global. If youngsters are using your site it means it is “cool,” and only cool can go global in 2012.

The third startup is branch.com, which provides a new way of talking online. In the age of Twitter any issue can only be discussed for five minutes before it moves out of our lives. The information flow is so massive that if you want to keep ahead you constantly have to run. However, there are some people who like to pause and think for longer about events and issues. Branch.com will be a home for those who like more elaboration.

Branch.com’s blog explains the site’s aims: “Between articles, blog posts, and tweets, the Internet is dominated by monologues. So we want to build a home for dialogues online, by combining the intimacy of a dinner table conversation with the power of the Internet. What makes Branch different? First, we value the diverse perspectives the Internet gives us access to, but we also know that too many voices can make things noisy. So on Branch, you can pick who you talk to — but, like blog posts, branches are public, so you don’t miss out on the openness of the web. And we’ve recently added a feature called ‘branching’ to the product; it’s like Github’s forking meets traditional threading. Last, we know it’s important to be connected to the rest of the web, so we made sure you can grab anything from the web, talk about it with anyone, and publish it anywhere.”

Branch.com was cofounded by a 25-year-old Turk, Cemre Güngör. The other two founders are American. I believe that Cemre and Ozan’s knowhow will be very valuable to young Turkish entrepreneurs in the future. I hope they will share their experiences, rather than keeping them to themselves.