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gFam.live — Grant Report #3

Welcome to our third Grant Report.. please feel free to peruse:

December's Grant Report
November's Grant Report

We're now in the 4th month of our 6th month Grant For The Web project, so I'll provide a more extensive report than usual.

96139-20210102_164022

Hi! This is me, Adam, working on my Grant For The Web gFam project... (with a touch of blockchain gaming on the side, who does just one thing at a time anymore?).

History

I'd love to provide some context and background to the gFam.live project.

An idea I had years ago was a social media platform where posts could have banner advertising enabled, and if users chose to do this then collectively they'd receive 80% of the advertising revenue based on an engagement algorithm.

I'm not a coder so I spent a year trying to learn Javascript and React in my spare time to build this platform. I honestly had no real concept of the complexity of the project I was undertaking.

I don't love coding, at heart I'm a content creator. I loved the Steem blockchain and made incredible friendships, until it imploded. I moved to Narrative.org, which died and lead me to Coil.com. Once I discovered Interledger.org and web-monetization I realised this is really what I wanted to build.

I've always hated both the invasive and inefficient nature of advertising, so a web-monetization model is so much more exciting to me.

I now had no time to waste, the world needs web-monetization and so I've spent a small fortune hiring consultants to fill in all the gaps in my skillset to build https://gfam.live

gFam

What is gFam.live?

gFam was originally short for "global family" however my first developer assumed that because I'm Australian it stood for "g'day fam" and I never had the heart to correct him.

I have lots of friends; Ninja Warriors, models, dancers, etc who put so much time and energy into creating incredible content on social media, and have large enthusiastic followings, but, are always strapped for cash. Negotiating brand deals for products you've never heard of is exhausting and frustrating. Creating merchandise, products/courses or creating content purely for Patreon is a huge investment in either time or finances.

gFam provides content creators with a platform where their enthusiastic audience can either passively or actively encourage them to keep creating the content they love. Active encouragement in the form of XRP tips or passive encouragement in the form of web-monetization via Coil.com subscriptions.

gFam doesn't charge any fees whatsoever, the network fee on the XRP Ledger is microscopic so consumers can be confident that almost 100% of their tips are received by their creator within 5 seconds.

Project Update

Statistics

From the 1st of October 2020 to today (the 30th of January 2021), here is gFam's statistics:

Number of users: 171
Number of posts: 2266
Number of tips: 2414
XRP tipped: 9934.645

Nearly 10,000 XRP has provided to content creators from their audience in the last 4 months via the gFam platform.

Development

I'm sure we're not alone in lamenting that everything takes way longer than we had originally planned for.

Not having ever participated in a grant process before, I wasn't comfortable starting any of the activities until the funds had hit my account. Unfortunately that process took longer than I had planned for, so I lost one developer entirely and my other was far less available for my project.

I had originally planned 86 development days over 5 months, which should have us at about 70ish days by this point. Unfortunately, to date, my remaining developer has only been able to spend 20 days on this project.

Project Management is tricky. Throwing more developers at a problem is great long-term, but you take a huge backwards step in the short term as new resources requiring training, code reviews, etc. A difficult task for rare technology like blockchain and interledger.

In hindsight I wish I had onboarded an extra developer, but my extremely excellent, diligent and hardworking coder had thought his other project would wind down in December and then January, but it hasn't quite worked out this way.

That said, we have implemented quite a few of our project objectives and we've got some new functionality that we're feverishly working on to unleash in February.

Marketing

One huge learning for us in this project was marketing. In the initial research for our grant proposal we spoke to a number of companies who were keen to help us with our social media marketing. We came up with content strategies and decided on platforms for ad spend... but when it came time to get started we were hit with a number of new questions; what was our marketing message, what was our mission, who were our target demographic, what problems were we trying to solve.

I'm confident I could have answered all of these questions off the top of my head, but the inefficiency of advertising is infuriating. A friend told me that if you get a response from 1.25% of everyone that you hit, that's a great result...
... but in my mind that just means you've either annoyed or been ignored by 98.75% of the people you've put money and/or time to advertise to.

So, we switched marketing firms and instead of just blasting random messages out into the world, we spent time interviewing content creators to find out their challenges and pain points in using traditional social media (Instagram primarily) for their content. We got a ton of great insights out of this process and now have a really strong How, What and Why to market with.

Progress on objectives

Here is a list of our objectives:

Marketing campaign

Currently in progress.
We have marketing messaging, social media templates, a social media strategy and a team to help us execute. There's a huge amount of work in this space. We're not only telling people about gfam.live we're educating people on blockchain technology, traditional social media algorithms, cryptocurrency and web monetization in order to help people really understand the benefits of gFam.live.

Enable Xumm authentication

Completed.
Users can log into gFam.live if they've hooked up their XUMM wallet.

Enable user validation

Not yet started.

Enable tips for comments and from the tip feed on the home page

In Progress.
Users can tip from the home page, but we're still working on allowing comments to be tipped as well. This is going to be a huge unlock for us, as we're expecting a lot more engagement, conversations and engagement to appear once people can receive remuneration for leaving supportive comments.

Redesign UI/UX, create logos, marketing images, videos, etc -

In Progress.
It was pure coincidence, but we didn't realise how essential it was for us to have both our Marketing firm and our Designer engaged at the same time. It was incredibly helpful to bounce concepts between the two groups, especially to develop our new home page. This new home page will help educate new users on the concepts of web monetization, etc.

Allow users to swipe/click across to view next and previous posts on mobile/desktop

Completed.

Add user metrics and statistics for creators

In Progress.
We're adding a new User Profile page that will display some public information (number of comments, views, etc) and some private information that only the user can see (XRP tips received/given). This is being built while I'm typing up this report.

Create an administrator dashboard

Not started.
This is the functionality I'm most excited about. I'm hoping my Monthly Reports have a lot more interesting data in them once this is developed.

Create a moderator dashboard for hiding posts/comments

Not started.
At the moment I'm moderating everything myself, but eventually the userbase will be too large to tackle alone. We're intending to have this built before we hit that point.

Metrics for admin to ensure users aren't abusing the system

Not started.
Unfortunately as soon as currency is involved, you get scammers and spammers on your platform. Again we're hoping to have this implemented before it's too much of a problem.

Implement gamified badges, borders, profile pics, and avatars

In Progress.
We've got the badges, etc designed, we just need to implement them.

Enable ILP for Coil users so creators can receive micropayments for time spent on their posts by Coil Subscribers

Completed.

Move architecture to the cloud/change to microservices.

In Progress.
This is a fairly complex maneuver... but it'll be needed to be able to scale effectively.

Additional tipping currency support using Xumm

Not started.

Investigate posting and/or tipping from/to other blockchains like Hive.io

Not started.

These last two were always last on our roadmap, but once we launch our latest functionality I want to start tackling these milestones. With so many cryptocurrency exchanges halting activity on XRP while the SEC takes Ripple to court, this directly affects our users... especially since Coinbase is such an easy and safe exchange for people new to crypto to use.

Luckily the gFam platform is a global application, so our Australian, Asian and European users are not affected and our US friends still have Uphold, thank goodness.

The huge benefit to adding additional currency or blockchain support is the new communities it would expose gFam to. So that's really exciting, but I very much want to have the moderation tools in place first.

Key activities

We're putting in a huge effort to be ready for a relaunch in February 2021. Marketing is taking up almost all of my available time while our developer is working on the new homepage and the User Profile/user analytics. We definitely feel like we're racing the clock at the moment.

Communications and marketing

Ironically, all my efforts in communications and marketing have very much highlighted how useful gFam.live could be to the world.

Instagram is our target platform.
There are so many users that put so much effort into building up their Instagram followers. It's so crazy hard and when you have built up a following you suddenly get hit with a ton of messages and comments "Open to collab, DM us" where you then can negotiate brand deals for products you've never heard of, and your audience may not love you selling out.

Ironically, it's also been really difficult to get the word out about gFam on Instagram. Content is King, but that content doesn't matter so much when you don't have many followers at all. You can't really contact people if they're not already following you... and so far people haven't really followed us unless they're trying to sell us something.

It's really hard.
In the last week we've onboarded a team of social media experts to help us, and while it still won't be easy, we're hoping to see a bit more traction once we put in some decent effort for the next 6 months.

One of the big learnings is that everyone is immediately suspicious of gFam. It seems too good to be true, and it's something very new with no easy comparisons. We're going to try and solve this by putting out a number of videos each week talking about the benefits to gFam, commonly asked questions, problems we face, creator highlights, etc. I was really hoping to outsource a lot of this, but we all came to the conclusion that as the creator/founder it has to be me on these videos... so my workload is now insane.

What’s next?

We still have so much left to do... it honestly feels like we're only a month in... not 2/3 of the way through.

Our developer does have a lot more time for the gFam project now, so we're hoping to speed up our progress.

After our February relaunch I really want to work the moderation tools so we can identify and help educate bad actors and then work on adding in more blockchain/currency support. There is a lot of exciting work to do that I honestly can't wait to get stuck in to.

We've also been in talks with a small company that is building a mobile app blockchain that rewards users while they engage with the apps in the ecosystem, so we're very keen to work in that space too.

What community support would benefit your project?

If you have any materials that might help educate people on web monetization we'd love to see it and potentially disseminate to our userbase (with your permission of course). There is a lot of education we need to do in order to onboard more people into our very exciting ecosystem.

If you haven't seen this incredible video by MG.Social, please give it a look. I think we all need more materials like this out in the world:

https://cinnamon.video/watch?v=505576973699909490

Otherwise, we'd love a hand in sharing out our platform and social media to try and get these annoying algorithms working for us...

https://gfam.live/
https://www.instagram.com/gfam.live/
https://twitter.com/globalfamilyapp
https://coil.com/u/gFam

If you've found alternative web monetization technology aside from Interledger.org, we'd love to explore it. Interledger is phenomenal and we still can't believe something so cool exists... but the more we can diversify the better for everyone.

Additional comments

Thank you so much for reading this Grant Report, and thank you again to the Grant For The Web judges for choosing us and the Grant Administrators for kindly answering all my questions. This project has been so exciting and I really hope that we can build up a platform and mouthpiece that can help every other GftW project too.

Discussion (1)

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Mathew Safford • Edited

Fantastic report, Adam! It's great to hear your story of what lead you to this space.