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10 Lessons in Mobile Content

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 </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 </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: </li></ul><ul><li>MXit: Add a contact (MXit Services) called yoza </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook: </li></ul>Louise McCann [email_address] Steve Vosloo [email_address]