- Kontax 2, for the period from launch to 31 May 2010 (2.5 months)
- The overall Kontax series — incorporating Kontax 1 and 2 — for the total period of the m4Lit project: 31 October 2009 to 31 May 2010 (effectively 7 months).
Most traffic to Kontax comes via MXit, with very little coming via the mobisite. The usage statistics presented here are thus from MXit.
For Kontax 2 (last 2.5 months):
- Over 7,500 reads of the story.
- Over 2,000 entries in the writing competition. (Read the winning entries.)
- Over 4,000 comments left by readers on individual chapters.
For Kontax series (last 7 months):
- Over 34,000 reads of the stories.
- Over 4,000 entries in the writing competitions.
- Over 4,000 comments left by readers on individual chapters.
To get Kontax on MXit users have to add Kontax as a contact or buddy. Below is a demographic snapshot, taken on 31 May 2010, of all MXit users who have added Kontax as a contact. The figures generally reflect the demographics of Kontax followers since the first story launched on MXit last year.
|Total Kontax as contact||58,936|
|Region: South Africa ‐ Eastern Cape||1%|
|Region: South Africa ‐ Gauteng||70%|
|Region: South Africa ‐ KwaZulu‐Natal||9%|
|Region: South Africa ‐ Other||2%|
|Region: South Africa ‐ Western Cape||16%|
While Kontax is aimed at 14 to 18 year olds, there is clear uptake amongst the next older groups too. Young adults also like to read Kontax, perhaps because in a country with such poor reading performance, age is not a good indicator of reading level — a 21 year old might be at the ideal reading level of a 16 year old.
Gauteng and the Western Cape represent most of the MXit followers.
Slightly more girls than boys read the m-novels. This is in line with international trends for online reading.
Kontax 2 not as popular
Kontax 2 did not achieve as high levels of uptake as Kontax 1. The chapter views for each story in the first two weeks after their launch are as follows (Kontax 1 has 21 chapters while Kontax 2 has 14 chapters):
In the first two weeks after launch an estimated 8,821 people read the last chapter of Kontax 1; the equivalent figure for Kontax 2 is 4,306 (approximately half the first number). This could be due to:
- less marketing done than for the first Kontax story;
- the novelty factor of an m-novel having been used up on Kontax 1;
- the fickleness of audiences;
- or simply because sequels often have a lower uptake than the first story in a series.
Given that the statistics provided by MXit are not very detailed and don’t allow in-depth analysis, it is simply impossible to deduce the reason(s) for fewer reads of Kontax 2 at this stage.
Marketing and fresh content
For Kontax 1 the general usage trend over time is downward. Since launch, this is what the monthly traffic of the last chapter (the one most likely to represent a complete read of the story) looks like:
March saw an increase in traffic due to Kontax 2 being launched; some readers drawn to Kontax 2 also read Kontax 1. The downward trend suggest two things: 1) marketing is very important, especially in the mobile context where commercial companies with big advertising budgets vie for user attention, and 2) the need for fresh and/or varied content. We did some marketing within MXit for both Kontax 1 and 2 when they launched.
Four and a half months elapsed between the release of Kontax 1 and Kontax 2. This is simply too long. Without fresh content, or other stories for users to read, they didn’t have a reason to keep visiting Kontax. After the release of Kontax 2 one reader commented: “kwl stri hpe kontax 3 is on its way dnt mke us w8 2long” (“Cool story, hope Kontax 3 is on its way, don’t make us wait too long”).
On the mobisite version of Kontax 2 users self-moderated comments through a Report This link. Clicking this link immediately removed the suspicious user-generated content from the site and put it in a moderation queue for an administrator to check. In 2.5 months, not a single thing was reported – although, admittedly, there wasn’t much traffic on the site.
On MXit all comments were first moderated. About 2% of comments were not suitable for publication for these reasons: 1) swearing and abuse, and 2) because users put their phone numbers in the comments with the hope that others will invite them to become friends. The latter situation is usually of a flirtatious nature, e.g. “I realy enjoyed this chapter,chicks invite me at XXX-XXXX”. Obviously we don’t want teens’ phone numbers publicly displayed on the Kontax comment list.
The downside of moderating users’ comments was the delay between the comment being submitted and it being displayed. While we explicitly explained that a delay would occur, and that not all comments would be displayed, users still quickly became frustrated when their comments didn’t go live. One user commented: “Ive bn tryng 2 leave comments here n ive seen none of em,nt even 1!:(” Another simply said: “screw you i dont see my comment here”. Having quicker moderation turn-around time is key for future stories.
As with Kontax 1, there were lots of reader comments on the first and last chapters of Kontax 2. Because we told half the story in one week and the second half a week later, there was also a high number of comments on chapter 7 (the last chapter of the first half of the story).
Also of interest were the spikes, albeit small, in chapter 6 – in which K8 and Sbu kiss – and in chapter 11 – where K8 and Sbu stumble into the scammers den and find themselves trapped. Chapter 11 ends at the moment K8 and Sbu realise the danger they’re in. Some comments on that chapter include:
- “Nw the story is startin 2 b more intrigueing n interesting” (Indie Gal)
- “Yhuuuuu! What wl hpen 2 k8 n cbu? Yho!:~:~” (Thandokazi)
- “The chapter are n0w 2 small” (Jamela)
Do the chapter 6 and 11 spikes indicate that the story needs more love interest and more action, two things that many of the readers requested?
With Kontax 1 users could only leave chapter comments on the mobisite, not on MXit. On the mobisite we awarded a prize for the best daily comment on the story chapters. A concern was that users were only leaving comments because they wanted to win the R100 airtime prize. In Kontax 2 there were no prizes for daily comments. Users in MXit could now also leave comments on chapters. While on the mobisite there were very few comments, on MXit there were over 4,000. This clearly shows that an incentive for comments is not necessary. Young people simply enjoy the opportunity to express themselves (a trait of participatory culture).
For both Kontax stories we’ve offered wallpaper images for download. On MXit the following image sizes are offered for each type of wallpaper:
By far the most commonly downloaded size is 100×125 followed by 128×128. Secondly, most of the downloads are of the first type of wallpaper, even though five different ones are offered. So, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on designing wallpapers then only offer one and in the sizes 100×125 and 128×128. Remember to include a link in the wallpaper image so that if it’s shared via bluetooth people can still see how to access the story.
The wallpaper download figures also confirm that most of our users’ phones have very small screens.
While Kontax 2 was not as popular as Kontax 1, it feels as if the second story solidified the group of real Kontax fans (not those who came to Kontax 1 to see what all the m-novel fuss was about). Many of the Kontax 2 chapter comments compared the story to Kontax 1, with some readers preferring the first Kontax and others the second.
Overall, there were many positive comments from readers about m-novels, e.g. “I’m nt big in reading bt wit kontax its different.Dis is de best story eva.Hpe 2 c u on tv cz wat ua doing is really gud” (Ms Ella fox).
Moving forward, five key strategies of m4Lit are to:
- Offer a wider range of content. We will be launching a new m-novel space called Yoza — a funky youth-zone with engaging stories that include new Kontax episodes as well as stories from other genres, e.g. soccer, HIV/AIDS and teen chick-lit.
- Reduce the time between story launches, so as not to lose momentum among our readers.
- Reduce the time it takes for a comment to be moderated.
- Keep inviting reader participation in the form of comments, writing competitions and votes.
- Offer stories in non-English languages. We have an ongoing call for volunteers to translate stories into other languages. If someone translates a story, we’ll publish it.