Sandwich Maker from Antep Solves F-Commerce Riddle!


Move over GM, Tostcu Mehmet from Gaziantep, Turkey will show you how to work Facebook. Tostcu means sandwich shop in Turkish. Gaziantep is a major city in the Southeast region of Turkey, known for its cultural heritage, phenomenal cuisine and entrepreneurship. Mehmet is the owner of this ‘Tostcu’ in Gaziantep who takes orders from his clientele in the area via Facebook. That’s not all — you can even chat live with Mehmet’s staff. One click from the simply designed Facebook tab will launch your MSN.

To date, the page has over 1,200 likes and more than 150 check-ins. The dialogue between Mehmet, his staff and customers is the kind you can’t imitate through all the social media tricks in the house. The comments read as if everyone knows each other and Tostcu Mehmet always thanks those customers who order through the page.

No fancy app or sapplet. No check-out cart. Just authentic hospitality, rapid response and a network of loosely connected individuals in one area.  

Wish they delivered to my office!


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Pucca’s Diary: Authentic Authenticity!

During my latest trip to Istanbul, I had the pleasure of coming across the latest web phenomenon that every other Turkish girl is talking about: Pucca’s Diary. It’s raw. It’s from the heart – more so, written off the top of a young woman’s head. Pucca writes about her angst to find love. Nothing new you might think, but her tone and her writing voice is so strong, it makes everyone stop on their tracks. If you can’t read Turkish, let me paint the picture for you: Think a young girl who’s thinking and talking a mile a minute with slang, SMS shorthand and observations that every woman makes but no one dares to utter. Her chase for the neighbor’s son, her competition with an Angeline Jolie-esque colleague to get the only decent looking boy in the office, her bitter break up with her less than handsome and intelligent boyfriend. It’s all stories where readers can find a piece of themselves, giggle and tell their friends to check out. 

In fact, that’s why the blog has been so successful as a series of authentic drama. Pucca has more than 55,000 followers on Twitter. Her blog has been published as a book in June 2010. By December, it was in its 11th (!!!) print. And it’s priced at 20 TL/ $13. For your information, that’s very close to the cost of foreign classics whose price tag include import tax. It’s not so cheap considering the Turkish book market or what the local publishers coin as ‘laptop books.’ Go girl!

Authenticity is a much frequently used buzz word in social media circles. While we craft ePR messages, maybe we should first jot down what we really mean and want to say and then dare to publish it. Edits, reviews, ‘multiple cooks in the kitchen’ sometimes boil tweets and blog posts down to, well, water. If you know your audience, if you know what they want to hear and how they talk, you should write in freestyle like Pucca. 

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Invest in Turkey

You may have wondered why there was a bit of a pause on this blog. Especially when written by someone who constantly tells others to keep writing and posting at least once a week. Well, I was on vacation! It was the longest vacation office workers in the glorious nation of United States had seen: 18 consecutive days! (Jealous?) My time was well spent. I visited my family in Turkey and practiced word of mouth chatting with them.

In case you were wondering about Turkey. No, it’s not in the Caribbean. It’s not like the Caribbean. It is spread over Europe and Asia. It has a variety of seasons, depending on the region. Population is more than 70 million. 61 percent is under the age of 34!! It’s a peninsula, surrounded by beautiful coast lines on the Aegean, Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

And here are some notes I grabbed from the Invest in Turkey brochure on the plane:

– Turkey is the world’s 15th largest economy and the 6th largest economy compared to the 27 EU economies
– Between 2003 and 2008, Turkey’s GDP increased 143%, reaching $742 billion
– During the same time, exports increased 179%, reaching $132 billion, foreign trade increased by 186%, exports to neighboring countries rose 278%

Despite its political ups and downs and its fair share of economic crises, Turkey commands a strong position in the international business arena. Turkish people follow and respond to the media. Facebook’s largest following in Europe, as I had written here before, is from Turkey. Participating in online chats, spending hours per day playing games are not uncommon experiences for the Turkish youth. The social media and WOM space there is bubbling with very creative, targeted campaigns.

I’d say, look for more waves coming from Turkey.

Is Your Search Engine A Newspaper?

I was chatting with a friend here who works for a major media conglomerate and is getting her PhD in media economics. (Yes, she can multi-task.) She is working on a paper about online advertising. Her employer, the owner of several national papers and publications, is the biggest online advertiser in Turkey. She said she was surprised to find how in the US the top advertising revenue congregated around search engines and portals such as Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN… This made me think for a minute about how I got my news on a daily basis. To me, information is key. I track multiple sources at a time. I keep an eye on Yahoo news. I go through my blog lists on a regular basis. I read the NYT and WSJ – online and offline. The latest news is the greatest. Within all this commotion, I sometimes pay attention to online banner ads and pop-ups.

Advertisers get the biggest return from me when I search for a specific product or service. That’s when I am ready to click around and chase additional information. Hence, the beauty of search engine marketing. Paid or organic, it reaches a relevant, engaged audience. My search engine is my default newspaper and directory.

Our conversation took another interesting turn, when another friend who oversees a number of brands for an international cosmetics company’s Turkish branch said she is planning to cut back on her Web advertising in 2009. She complained that she was not getting enough ROI. Instead, she planned to focus on TV. Her budget was scaled back anyhow.

A new dish came to the table, we all got distracted with mozzeralla sticks and pizzas. So I didn’t get into finding new audiences online with a list of sites that matched her audience’s profile. I didn’t get a chance to tell her about the brands who were moving money from traditional media to online, either.

The Turkish online audience is addicted to social networks and discussion forums. Turkey is one of Facebook’s most populated bases in Europe. Similar to US Internet users, novice and seasoned users depend on major search engines to find information. Perhaps the solution for brands here is to move away from somewhat engaging banner ads and follow the audience to search engines and social networks.

The Ban on YouTube Doesn’t Stop Young Turks

After claims that a YouTube video contained degrading content about Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkish state, Turkish courts banned access to the popular video exchange site from Turkey. They didn’t want anyone to tamper with the evidence while they reviewed the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a follower of Ataturk’s path and I staunchly believe in protecting his name and his institutions. But I am not sure if it may be possible to contain content on an ever dynamic social media site. My guess is that many people wouldn’t even be able to find the video and the pertaining user comments that are in question.

But nowadays the focus on the case have shifted from the court’s decision to the back roads Turkish Internet users take to access YouTube. As Milliyet, a leading national paper here, reported recently the number of Turkish visitors to YouTube has reached 800,000 per day, pushing the site to the most viewed 10 Web destinations in the country. Google searches on alternative ways to access YouTube returns more than 300,000 results. In a November interview, even the country’s Prime Minister admitted to accessing YouTube through alternative sites.

The ban doesn’t seem to stop young Turks from connecting and networking.