Crowdfunding A Children’s Book

kickstarter-growth

I am very interested in the idea of crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.  One of the most popular sites that facilitates crowdfunding is Kickstarter.  I’ve had experience using GoFundMe, but never Kickstarter, so I was looking forward to finding out more about it.

Thanks a billion

Immediately, when you visit their page, you see their banner thanking those who have chosen to fund projects.  This is a great reminder of the power and reach of crowdfunding.  I really like Kickstarter and the way it’s organized.  I like the opportunity to browse — even by location — for projects that may interest me.

Kickstarter Florida Childrens Book search

I was browsing through the projects on Kickstarter to see the kinds of projects people were looking to get funded.  There were lots of different and interesting things.  There were theatre projects, art projects, STEM projects.  There were things for kids, staff picks, and more.  I decided to look for a children’s book to fund in Florida, since that’s where I live.  There several projects to choose from, many of which had already been funded.  Visually, I was drawn to The Laundry Dragon project in Tampa by M.C.A. Hogarth.

Kickstarter Dragons Page

There was a very eye-catching video on their page, and they are very close to reaching their funding.  The author has already had eight previous projects created and funded, and has also helped fund forty seven projects.  I really appreciated that she has helped other projects, and is not just there asking for funding.

FInded projects

Projects the author has previously had funded

Projects the author has previously backed

Projects the author has previously backed

M.C.A. Hogarth offers several incentives for helping to fund her book.  The most popular is for $20 she will give you a copy of the book in the summer, after it is printed.

incentives_

When I clicked through to help fund the book, I noticed that there is a warning that there are no guarantees, and Kickstarter does not investigate those who are asking for funding.  I found this unsurprising, since there are so many projects looking to get funded.  It did make me wonder how many projects reach their funding, but don’t make good on their promises.  I’d think it would have to be a fairly low number.  Otherwise, crowdfunding would quickly loose its appeal to those looking to fund projects that interest them.

where projects come from

I found this whole process very interesting to research.  I’ve written a series of children’s books, just for fun, but I’ve never really thought about getting them published.  Crowdfunding seems like a viable option for doing it.

kickstarter-books

Google Me?

google

I Googled myself this week.  Have you ever done it?  If you haven’t, I would highly recommend it.  It’s really important to know what people can find out about you in such an easy way in terms of reputation management.  I didn’t think I’d be surprised by what I found, but I was, somewhat.

I must admit, I don’t cast a wide net with my digital footprint.  I don’t intentionally put my full name out there.  It’s for that reason that I’m not going to post any screen shots or specifics about what I found in connection with my name.  Although I write a blog and have social media accounts, I really like my privacy.  As a person who values privacy so much, Googling yourself is an even more important exercise.

On Twitter, I don’t use my name, nor do I on Instagram.  I also don’t use my last name on Facebook.  However, obviously, I do use my full name at work.

Google yourself

Most of the things I found had to do with where I work.  I found my name listed under a few forms on my company’s website.  This was not a surprise.

I also found my name listed as a soccer coach from when I was a volunteer coach over a year ago, which was a surprise to find.  I was also surprised to find my name listed as a small group leader from a church I used to attend.  I didn’t realize any of that information would be available so publically.

Im being Googled

My LinkedIn account did come up, as did my Tyba, which I recently created after starting grad school.  I saw a “shout out” someone had given me on Facebook for a share where they used my full name.

I checked out the images, and only three of all of those possible were actually me, and they pertained to my work and my LinkedIn account.

I Googled two of  my email addresses, and some newletters for my father’s church came up, which I didn’t understand.  I checked out all of the links and that helped me remember that I used to run a community service project out of his church, and my email address was listed several times in their newsletter as a result.

I wish googling myslef

Most of what I got seemed to be different search sites to help someone delve deeper.  Too bad, I’m just not that interesting.

ModCloth App — Vintage Look With A Modern Appeal

ModCloth heading

If you like a vintage look, ModCloth may be the shopping site you’ve been looking for.  I am a fan of ModCloth.  Their clothes look great, and they’re reasonably priced — both of which are a must in my opinion.  I’ve shopped through their website several times, so I thought I’d download their app and see if it was useful.

ModCloth Website

ModCloth Website

I began by looking at their website.  I wanted to have a reference for what I’d be comparing the app to.  Their website has a nice, clean design that is easy to navigate.  I’ve always had a good shopping experience on their website, so the app had a lot to prove.

I have both an Android phone and an iPad, so I thought I’d get the best perspective on the ModCloth app by downloading it to both devices.

Installing on Andriod phone

Installing on Andriod phone

Permissions

Permissions

Before downloading the app, I made sure to read the permissions.  I always do.  The permissions did not seem to be too intrusive to me, which I appreciated.  I also read the reviews of the app.  I was surprised to see so many negative reviews, but I was hopeful my experience using the app would be a positive one.

App reviews

App reviews

More reviews

More reviews

Once I had downloaded the app, at first I thought there were a  few advantages to the iPad version.  The iPad version asked if I wanted to receive push notifications; the Android version did not.  The iPad version immediately took me to a screen that asked me to log in to my account; I had to look for where to log in to my account on the Android version.  It was easy to find on the Android version, but I liked the convenience of not having to look on the iPad version.

I really like how responsive ModCloth is to customer service questions.  I both called and chatted with them.  It is helpful to have their contact information easily accessible on the app and have a team that is so responsive.

Customer service on menu on Android app

Customer service menu on Android app

The app didn’t offer any discounts or coupons for downloading it, which I think is always a good thing for a store to offer — especially and online store because not having one, encourages a shopper to leave a site or app to look elsewhere for promo codes and coupons.  The app did show a lot of product reviews, which is also a great feature of the website.  Having ordered from them in the past, I know that they carry a lot of clothing that is sized quite differently, so relying on the reviews and fit guides are essential.

Item shown on the iPad app

Item shown on the iPad app

Reviews shown on the iPad app

Reviews shown on the iPad app

I liked both the Android and iPad apps’ features to share.  The Android app allowed for more varied sharing, whereas the iPad’s was geared only to social media.

iPad sharing feature

iPad sharing feature

An interesting feature of the app was their instant gift certificate you can “gift” to a friend.  I thought this was a great idea for convenient gift-giving.  It is also a great tool for word of mouth marketing, if a person shares the store with a friend that way.

Instant gift certificates

Instant gift certificates

However, I was confused when I saw a button for me to download the app.  If I’m on the app, I don’t see any purpose for this button.

Download our app

I really enjoy using this app, and if someone was in the market for some nice, reasonably-priced, vintage-inspired clothing, I’d certainly recommend it.  Almost every aspect of the app is useful and helpful, and it’s design is very clean on both an Android phone and an iPad.  If I had to choose, I do prefer the iPad app.  That has more to do with aesthetics and liking having a larger screen than superior functionality.

Update: The Android version does have push notifications!  I received one today, letting me know something on my wishlist was back in stock.  It just didn’t ask for permission to send me them like the iPad version did, but I did like getting the notification and thought it added to the value of having the app on my phone.

When you log onto the website, it let’s you know what’s back in stock from your wishlist since your last visit.  Having this feature now in available from the app, is a great advantage.  That way the store is alerting you without having to wait for your next visit to it’s website.

Website's notifications

Website’s notifications

Exploring Second Life: an exercise in digital ethnography

second_life_logo

Second Life is a virtual world where people interact online as their virtual selves.  A person can have a integrated realistic avatar, one that is more of an augmented self, or an immersed version of self.

Let me just say, that if you’re the type of person, as I am, who doesn’t like to read the instructions when you get a new piece of software or a new device, then Second Life probably is not for you.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the draw of interacting anonymously and in world with no consequences.  I also see the benefit for practical applications like education and research.  I have no doubt that there are very real friendships that have been formed, much the same way many people have “Facebook friends” they’ve never actually met.  You just have to have the patience to get past the learning curve of Second Life.

login-concurrency24

I was entering Second Life for research purposes.  I was trying to learn more about it and some of its basic functions.  I thought I’d be a combination of passive and active, both observing and interacting.  Let me just say that there is so much to learn about Second Life that it is impossible to give a good account of this virtual world having only spent five hours in it.  Even though Second Life is not as well-known or as populated as it was in it’s heyday, it still has, relatively, a lot of regular users.  I thought it would be a valuable place to visit to better understand researchers who have used it in ethnography.

Most of us like to plug and play.  That simply isn’t possible with Second Life.  I did some research reading a few blogs before beginning my use of Second Life, and it seemed fairly straightforward.  However, once I was in the world, there was a lot that I just couldn’t figure out.

How to walk

Most of the simple controls are straightforward, but the controls are by no means intuitive.  I expected them to be much easier to navigate than they were.  Things like walking, flying, chatting, and making basic changes to my initial appearance were pretty easy.  For some reason, I just could not seem to get my hair right, though.  Since I didn’t have the patience to wait or have the desire to take the time to figure it out, I decided to go to a place where I could buy the kind of hair I wanted.

First Edits to appearance

One of the, seemingly, easy things about Second Life is that if you don’t want to take the time or don’t have the knowledge to create something, you can buy it.  I didn’t think I’d be able to get a good idea of this virtual world without exploring, so I visited several shops.  I looked at and demoed hair styles, clothing, and animations and decided to buy a few.  In order to do this I needed Linden Dollars, so I went to my account and purchased over 3,000 Linden Dollars for about $15 US dollars.  After demoing a hairstyle I liked, I decided to purchase it.  The trouble was, once I purchased it, I couldn’t find it.  I looked and searched in my inventory.  I checked the “Recent” tab, but it was no where.

confusing hair

I had different troubles with clothing.  I purchased several outfits and some jewelry.  Although I was able to put on most of the clothing, some of it wouldn’t go on my body, and instead looked like I was trying to wear a poster around my waist.  Try as I might to figure out what I had done wrong, I couldn’t correct it.  So, I added that to my wasted spending.

troubles wearing new clothing

But my purpose of entering Second Life was not only to explore the controls, but also to interact, so after buying some funky dance move animations, I transported to a dance club I found in my search.

Dance Club

I went to a dance club where people were dancing by themselves.  I saw in the chat that some people were referring to the music and the voice of the DJ, but I could not hear either.  After some investigating, I discovered I’d accidentally turned off the sound when I had denied using the Smart Voice feature.   I found the answer on the community page, which has lots of good suggestions and answers.  Basically, I Googled anything I didn’t know how to do, and that’s how I would find blogs and discussion posts that would help me.

Soundcontrols

So, I went back to the club and I danced.  And it was fun.  For about a moment.  Then it was old.  I realized that the only people talking to each other clearly knew each other.  When I went back to this same club several hours later, it was almost exclusively couples dancing together.

So far I had had exactly two people talk to me the entire time I had been in Second Life.  I had tried to initiate conversation by saying hello to one and asking a question, and, after my clothing fiasco, complimented another’s very nice dress.  That’s as far as is it went.

first chat

Herein lies the main point of my observations while in Second Life.  For those who are used to the world and have built virtual homes, businesses, and relationships in it, Second Life would be a great place to live online.  If you’re new, there is a heavy technical learning curve that can be discouraging.  You also miss out on a lot of the relational parts that would build value to the experience, simply because it isn’t easy to get to know people.  I particularly found it difficult to gauge people when chatting with them.  Where people engaging in a medical education pilot in Second Life found this helpful in discouraging judgment when asking questions, I found the lack of expression added to the confusion of meeting and communicating with new people.  When you’re meeting a person out in the “real” world, you can read their body language and hear the tone of their voice.  While it is possible to hear someone’s voice in Second Life if they’re using Second Voice, most of the people I encountered were not using it, and we were relying solely on typing and reading in the chat feature.  If someone had added the appropriate animations to communicate body language, they could use those.  But that comes back to the learning curve.  To effectively communicate while in Second Life, you’d have to have a library of animations.

Not Confidential

So, if you’re interested in a virtual world experience and have a lot of time to dedicate to it, I can see Second Life providing an escape and a unique experience.  I would like to add that the developers make it very clear, as shown in the screen shot above that I took while registering, that nothing is private that you do in Second Life.  Given the widespread provocative clothing, animations, and locations, I think that’s important to remember.

Sharing Religious Content on Social Media – Survey Results

finger of god to smartphone

Last week, I put together a questionnaire to survey people about their use of social media with regards to how often they shared religious content.  You can find out about how I structured my questionnaire HERE.  This week I am sharing my results.  (Note: If you’d like to view larger images of the graphs and charts, just click on them to view the full size images.)

surveys started vs surveys completed

I must admit, I had no idea what sort of response I would receive posting my questionnaire on my Facebook profile, Twitter feed, and a Facebook group, but I did not anticipate receiving as many as 270 completed responses.  The amount of data I was able to compile, gives the results more validity, in my opinion.

social media use graphBy far the most heavily used social media platform was Facebook.  100% of the respondents said they used it, with the next highest being LinkedIn with 44%, then Pinterest with 42%, and Twitter with %40.  This makes sense, since I posted the link to the questionnaire on Facebook.

use of social media by the numbers

Others that were written in included SnapChat, Yammer, Trello, and YouTube.

how often you share on social by the numbers

Most people share content on social media sites More than Once a Day.

gnder by the numbers

The demographics were heavily female, 70% to 30% male.

age by the numbers

And 58% were aged 35-54.  After reviewing these numbers, I am second-guessing these age groupings I used from a standard bank of questions on Qualtrics, and probably should’ve broken up this into two groups.

education pie chart43% of the respondents graduated with a 4-year College Degree, the next highest being those with Master’s Degrees at 18%, with those completing Some College next at 17%.

education by the numbers

The smallest groups were those with Doctoral Degrees and Less than High School, each being only 1%.

where does content come from bar graphThe vast majority of those surveyed (89%) share their own photos, videos, and updates.

where does content come from by the numbers

81% share content from friends, and 61% share content linked from websites.

religious affliliation by the numbers

When broken down by religious affiliation, those identifying themselves as Christians dominated the numbers with 78%.

List of other types of religious content shared

The next highest was Other at 13%, 7 of whom wrote in they were Agnostic, and 4 Catholic.

denomination by the numbers

Of those who identified themselves as Christian, the highest percentage was Roman Catholic with 21%.  The next highest was 17%, saying they don’t attend formal worship.  While most of the respondents were Christians, I think these results help show the variety of Christian backgrounds amongst those surveyed.

how often you attend worshippie chart40% of those surveyed attend worship Once a Week.

how often you attend worship by the numbers

The next highest was those who said they Never attended formal worship.

do you share religious content pie chart

61% responded that they share content that expressed their religion on social media.

do you share religious content by the numbers39% said they did not.

how often do you share religious content by the numbers

Of those who share content expressing their religious beliefs, the fewest respondents share either once a day or more than once a day, and the most respondents shared 2-3 times a month.social media icons

So that’s a run-down of the basic data.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  When cross-tabulating the data, you can see some interesting trends.

How often sharing on social - do you share religious

The data shows, as seen in the table above, the more often a person shares content on social media, the more likely they are to share content that expresses their religious beliefs.

education - do you share

The data also shows, as seen in the table above, that those having completed less than high school and those having earned professional degrees are the most likely to share content that expresses their religious beliefs.

age - do you share

As seen in the table above, the data supports that those aged 25 and under are more likely to share content that expresses their religious beliefs.

types of religious content by age

You can see in the table above the kind of religious content people are sharing by age.

what is your gender - do you share

Women are more likely than men to share religious content that expresses their beliefs.

what is your religion - do you share

Christians are  more likely to share content that expresses their religious beliefs than the other religions, having the only positive ratio of 2-1.

sharing by denomination

The results also show that those Christians who identify themselves as Baptist and Anglican are the most likely to share religious content, followed by Evangelicals.

attendance at worship - do you share

Lastly, attendance at worship has a big impact on people’s willingness to share religious content that expresses their beliefs, as seen in the table above.  Those who attend worship at least once a month are significantly more likely to share content on social media that expresses their religious beliefs.Follow-me

If you’d like to take a look at the geographical data in relation to how often a person posts religious content, you can take a look at the table, Frequency of sharing religious content by location.

I wasn’t at all surprised that most of the survey’s respondents lived in Florida.  What did surprise me was how many from outside of the U.S. responded.  Incidentally, I received a negative comment about me generalizing those who “do not reside in the U.S.” inferring that I was a typical American, not seeing others as valid.  I must assure everyone, I simply didn’t expect to receive many responses for my little survey, and certainly not any from those living outside the U.S., since most of the people I know live here in Florida.  The results were given a snowball effect when four online friends decided to share the link the questionnaire on their own pages.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to take the survey.  I hope you all enjoyed reading about the results as much as I did.

Building SEO, Brick By Brick

If you build it, they will come . . .

Passing Hasbro this year as the world’s second biggest toy manufacturer, Lego is the subject of my SEO keywords search today.  Being mother to an 8-year-old boy, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone not being familiar with the Lego brand.  It should come as no surprise since Lego controls 85% of the construction-toy sector here in the United States.  They are even about to release a movie I’ve seen heavily advertised on DisneyXD and other channels my son likes to watch, which I actually think I will enjoy seeing.

The Lego brand has been steadily on the rise with the Lego Group’s share of the global market 7.1% in 2011, 8.6% in 2012, and 8.8% in 2013, so I was expecting some great results from my SEO keyword search.  I discovered through research that Lego was known for their creativity, constructive play, and strategic play.  But, let’s face it, Legos are toys kids play and create with.  They’re educational building tools, but they’re sets of toys.  So with all that in mind, the keywords I searched for and the results were:

  1. building blocks      (10th page, last result)
  2. constructions sets       (1st page, last result)
  3. educational toys       (2nd page, 1st result)
  4. building sets       (2nd page, 1st result)
  5. blocks       (3rd page, 8th result)
  6. bricks       (2nd page, 2nd result)
  7. star wars toys      (2nd page, 4th result)
  8. building bricks      (1st page, 9th result)
  9. strategic play      (1st page, 8th result)
  10. creative play      (6th page, 2nd result)

Image

Now, in my recording of these results, I think it’s important to note that I only recorded results from official Lego sites.  Often, sites like Amazon, Target, ToysRus and others would appear in the search results higher than the official Lego pages.  I think the vast majority of Lego buyers are probably doing what my professor, Dr. Selepak, is doing and going directly to Amazon, or other trusted shopping sources.  These sites are, obviously doing their own promotion through SEO, and it’s a win-win for all involved.  The results I listed above also don’t show other things like blogs, lists, and other sites that had the word “LEGO” either in their title or description.  I did an extra search for “legos” just for fun, and the first three were official Lego sites, followed by Wikipedia, then retailers ToysRus, Amazon, and Target.

Image

I am by no means an expert on code, but in taking a look at the Lego website coding, I saw little evidence that SEO best practices were used.  By the nature of the product and the vast number of varieties available, many of the keywords were found in the text descriptions throughout the website, but the code chose to refer to items by their product names, which were much less descriptive.

Image

I found the most surprising and interesting find to be the keywords, “building blocks” coming so far down the list results of my search.  When I think of Legos, they’re essentially building blocks.  However, in researching for this assignment, I learned they’re so much more.  They’re a brand that was almost bankrupt just over a decade ago, due largely in part to trying to create things that were “un-Lego-y.”  Now they’re using ideas that are “obviously Lego” and making them profitable again.  With large growth in Asia and a focus in that developing market, I am hopeful they will be around for many years to come!