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10 Lessons in Mobile Content

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By Steve Vosloo, Project Leader for Yoza Cellphone Stories, and Louise McCann, Editor in Chief. Presented at the Cape Town Content Strategy meetup on 24 August 2011.

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10 Lessons in Mobile Content

  1. 1. 10 Lessons in Mobile Content <ul><li>Steve Vosloo, Project Leader </li></ul><ul><li>Louise McCann, Editor in Chief </li></ul>
  2. 2. “ It's great ... for me it really hard to pick up a book to start readin but i don mind readin on my phone ” dotty1 What our users commented
  3. 3. Background
  4. 4. The Yoza Project <ul><li>Yoza enables reading, writing and engagement via mobile phones </li></ul><ul><li>South African project launched August 2009, initially funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>Through Yoza, short stories, poems and classic literature are published on mobile phones (MXit and on a mobisite -- a website for mobiles) </li></ul><ul><li>Highly interactive: users can comment, vote, enter writing competitions and review stories </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why? <ul><li>51% of South African households own no leisure books </li></ul><ul><li>7% of public schools in South Africa have functional libraries of any kind </li></ul><ul><li>High uptake of phones – up to 90% amongst urban youth </li></ul><ul><li>South Africa has excellent mobile infrastructure and coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Relatively low charges for mobile data (but expensive voice and SMS charges) </li></ul><ul><li>Most digital reading and writing happens on phones </li></ul><ul><li>A common complaint: “ teens don't read and write enough, teens love their mobile phones ” -- so make phones part of the solution! </li></ul>
  6. 6. Early story on MXit (2009)
  7. 7. Yoza today
  8. 8. Yoza today
  9. 12. “ If friar's plan wrks, then romeo wil b able 2 cum nd take juliet wit hm 2 liv hapily 2geda at mantua bt if it fails, sumbdy's gna b dead. Lol! ” Elsie
  10. 13. “ I loved the book, wish it didnt have an ending. Shakespear please bring another one like this one. IT WAS MWAAAH!! ” Blessed1
  11. 14. Yoza Cellphone Stories: Basics <ul><li>A growing library of titles: 28 m-novels, 11 poems, 5 Shakespeare plays </li></ul><ul><li>Genres include teen issues, romance, soccer, adventure, “ classics ” , poetry </li></ul><ul><li>Some stories are serialised (a chapter a day) and every chapter of every story has a comment prompt or vote prompt </li></ul><ul><li>Chapters around 400 words (some stories 200 words) </li></ul><ul><li>Total length: 4000 to 10000 words </li></ul><ul><li>Stories in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa </li></ul><ul><li>Stories are free but costs for mobile data (about 7c per chapter) </li></ul><ul><li>On MXit all comments are moderated before going live </li></ul><ul><li>Available in South Africa and Kenya on Mxit </li></ul>
  12. 15. What users thought of Yoza stories
  13. 16. What our Facebook friends have to say ...
  14. 17. Yoza stats (one year) <ul><li>Complete reads: 300,000 </li></ul><ul><li>No. of comments: 40,000 </li></ul><ul><li>No. of unique visitors: >145,000 </li></ul><ul><li>No. of MXit subscribers to Yoza: >69,000 </li></ul><ul><li>No. of page views: >5,400,000 </li></ul><ul><li>No. of votes: >44,000 </li></ul><ul><li>(Period: August 2010 to August 2011) </li></ul>
  15. 18. More comments than War and Peace
  16. 19. “ T z a vry !ntstng stry,really attrtz da a attns f da reader.k!p t up ” L!hle
  17. 20. User demographics <ul><li>Mostly 18-25 years old, then 13-17 </li></ul><ul><li>Slightly more female </li></ul><ul><li>Mostly Black </li></ul><ul><li>Mostly in urban centres, but also spread throughout country </li></ul><ul><li>Estimate LSM 3-7 </li></ul>
  18. 21. “ Aha ” moment: Mobile phones are a viable distribution platform for longer form content and for enabling user participation
  19. 22. “ It kwl an nyc nt boring. And siyafundisa ” [we are learning] Thule
  20. 23. “ A gud st0ri alth0ugh vewi sh0rt id lyk 2 c m0re 0n mxit bk0z it enc0uragez readin! ” Lesleigh(F)
  21. 24. Lessons
  22. 25. Lesson 1: Research content and user interface with teens
  23. 26. Lesson 1: Research content and user interface with teens Tip: For best results, feed them
  24. 27. “ Waiting for the next chapters kills me! ” Suzi* Lesson 2: Mobile is a content monster
  25. 28. Solution: have lots of content ready to publish
  26. 29. Lesson 3: Mobile is “always on” Solution: moderate constantly
  27. 30. “ I alwayz (H)ur stories guyz and i alwayz learn smthing new ” Sisipho
  28. 31. Lesson 4: Marketing matters Ads run on these days -- see the traffic spikes Solution: budget for marketing
  29. 32. Lesson 5: Users know what they want <ul><li>Yoza users have told us they want: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content that entertains, inspires and educates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content about issues (pregnancy, drugs, careers, money), romance and adventure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real life stories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See http://yozaproject.com/2010/12/04/what-do-you-want-from-yoza-the-yoza-community-responds/ </li></ul></ul>Solution: ask, listen and respond
  30. 33. “ Ag!BORING. . .:-z ” Thandi
  31. 34. Lesson 6: Always prompt (and be provocative)
  32. 35. Lesson 7: Adapt <ul><li>The Awesomes chapters rewritten (pre-publication) based on comments received in earlier chapters </li></ul><ul><li>Streetskillz stories changed (post-publication) from third to first person narrative to pick up the pace, make interaction more direct </li></ul>Solution: watch and respond
  33. 36. Lesson 8: Show don’t tell <ul><li>Keep the pace up, keep down screenfuls of telling </li></ul><ul><li>First person narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Main characters: minimum 1 and max 4 </li></ul><ul><li>Short chapters </li></ul><ul><li>Write for “ snacky ” reading </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t easily flip back on mobile </li></ul><ul><li>See Yoza Manifesto for more www.tinyurl.com/yozamanifesto </li></ul>
  34. 37. Lesson 9: Leverage existing networks and meet readers where they are MXit Mobisite Facebook
  35. 38. Lesson 10: There will be drop-off …
  36. 39. Lesson 10: … But fans are loyal
  37. 40. “ Yoza i love your stuff your flava is hot ” (Anon)
  38. 41. “ The stories r interesting nd fun 2 read, they kip ma englsh gng ” Hlengiwe gulube
  39. 42. How to access Yoza and contact details <ul><li>Browser: www.yoza.mobi </li></ul><ul><li>MXit: Add a contact (MXit Services) called yoza </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook: www.facebook.com/yozacellphonestories </li></ul>Louise McCann [email_address] www.thecontentstudio.co.za Steve Vosloo [email_address] www.yozaproject.com

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