Yonja Media Group, a leading emerging markets social media company based in Silicon Valley and İstanbul, currently competes in 3 industry verticals as a holding. The company is operating in e-commerce industry with firsatbufirsat.com, in social platforms with Yonja.com which boasts 2.5m unique users and 400m page views per month, and in online recruiting with istesosyal.com.
The key point is being social, according to Yonja CEO Dilawar Syed, who held a leadership role in Yahoo! before his move to Yonja Media Group. “Social is our DNA,” said Syed and added: “But being digital doesn’t mean being social.”
Syed was in Istanbul for 6 weeks, and we met with him at Beyoğlu just before he left for San Francisco. We spoke with Dilawar Syed to understand how İşteSosyal is making a difference in online recruting industry, and what the holding company has planned going forward.
“1.0 job boards belong to another generation”
Success of career websites in Turkey and around the world is testament to the fact that career was one of the first verticals that was adopted through 1.0 job boards. “They have been dominating the industry for almost 15-20 years. Here is the challenge: Services like Kariyer.net,SecretCV, YeniBirİş and their cousins in the US are 1.0 job boards. They were online for a generation before this generation.”
According to Syed people who are about to start a career were born when Kariyer.net went online. “These people—new young Turkish professionals—have grown up with mobile and social. So they expect social and mobile in every facet of the web. We are now dealing with a new generation of users. Kariyer.net, Yenibiris.com, SecretCV, etc., have not adapted and it is challenging for them to adapt given their legacy of web 1.0”
“This country speaks Turkish, not English”
Syed acknowledges that social in recruiting services started with LinkedIn. But he also underlines that LinkedIn is trying to be mobile now. Even Facebook is struggling to be mobile. So the big challenge for all kind of companies is how to adapt to a social and mobile world. It’s about addressing today’s users. “This is more important for career websites, because they are dealing with professionals who are savvy users. We have millions of new, fresh graduates in Turkey. LinkedIn started it and is dominating the game; but mostly in English-speaking countries. LinkedIn is not the dominant platform in Turkey. It took too long to translate in Turkish and has traction largely with a a tech-savvy segment of the professional community in Turkey. This country speaks Turkish, not English. And we have a diverse, complex services sector that is more than just about tech.”
[quote style=”1″]“The big trend in recruiting is embracing the social and the mobile. LinkedIn started it and is dominating the game; but mostly for English-speaking countries. LinkedIn is not the dominant platform in Turkey. ”[/quote]
Still, all the indicators show that LinkedIn is growing fast in Turkey, too. Syed interrupts me here: “It’s growing for the people you and I know, amongst the English-speakers and the digital advertising industry. This is just a small segment. I’m very proud to say that with IsteSosyal we are building a brand for the masses. I want IsteSosyal to be as relevant to a university graduate in Konya as it is for a professional in Istanbul. We are not building a brand just for English-speakers, or those in the digital industry. They are just a small portion. Turkey is diverse and we must go across the digital divide. With İşteSosyal, we are hoping to reach every job seeker in Turkey.”
“Digital doesn’t mean social”
According to Syed, the recruiting services in Turkey were already digital. Being social is the big challenge. “There are 32 million Turkish users in Facebook. This is almost half of Turkey. What do they do on Facebook? Pictures, games, and that’s it! But now we have new verticals in the social world, like e-commerce and recruiting. İşteSosyal will be synonymous with social recruiting in Turkey.”
“We take listings from leading career job boards and aggregate them. Here is the big difference İşteSosyal offers. While Turkish job boards list jobs in a static web 1.0 fashion, in İşteSosyal when you see a job listing, you also see if you have friends inside, who work at the company, who can refer you. We will provide the user an insight into the company through their social graph on Facebook.”
İşteSosyal mission to socialize listings wasn’t accomplished overnight. After all, more than 100,000 listings make it to İşteSosyal in a week. It took them 1 year to integrate Facebook social graph with all job listings in Turkey. “Then we do the same experience on mobile,” says Syed.
“It’s not like having a website with a mobile skin. What we have built is a very powerful social and mobile solution for recruitment. And the key difference is friends. There are 32 million of people on Facebook, either professional, or who want to be a professional. This is a tool on Facebook which we are tapping into with websites like Kariyer.net. We haven’t done our own listings yet.”
Benefits for companies
“If you look at Turkcell, Starbucks, Garanti, these companies hire a lot of people in Turkey. They all understand Facebook, and know that they have to be present there. If you search their name on Facebook, you will see their fan page or check-ins. But they have not built a ‘talent brand’. In the US, brands like IBM and Starbucks use Facebook to develop their ‘talent brand’. It’s like the HR Pages of Facebook, listing perks and detailing why you should go and work with them. Most companies are aware that if they are recruiting, they have to show presence on Facebook. It’s about engaging with your potential employees, building a brand. There is no such thing in Turkey yet. We are working with major companies on this. For example, we put all the job listings for Turkcell on Turkcell’s page, and we connected all friends who are working there. Turkcell can easily take the page and add more. It literally takes 5 minutes to manage a talent or HR page on Facebook. It’s already happening in other countries, but Turkey is lagging behind. There is no reason for this because Turkey is a top country on Facebook”
[quote style=”1″]In the US, brands like IBM and Starbucks use Facebook to develop their ‘talent brand’. It’s like the HR Pages of Facebook, listing perks and detailing why you should go and work with them. Most companies are aware that if they are recruiting, they have to show presence on Facebook. It’s about engaging with your potential employees, building a brand. There is no such thing in Turkey. That’s what we do.[/quote]
İşteSosyal’s mobile presence, in Android and iOS, brings together 300,000 users. They haven’t started marketing aggressively yet. Syed points out that “the Android app is fast catching up with iOS.” Syed says our design philosophy is ‘less is more’– with a focus on job search through friends.
İşteSosyal is also powering social recruiting in Switzerland. “İşteSosyal’s priority is still Turkey,” Syed says.
“We introduced social to Turkey”
“We have been in the market for 9 years. It’s a great story that we have continued to evolve and find new growth paths” says Syed. “We introduced social to Turkey with Yonja’s launch. Social remains are DNA and core to our new offerings.”
Syed aims IsteSosyal to be the top 5 online recruiting brand in Turkey. “What’s important is that you build a service that fulfills a need, and through touchpoints and channels that are relevant today.”