Have you discovered Jelly yet? It’s the latest venture from Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. The idea, as outlined in the promotional video, is simple. Using the Jelly app on your phone, snap a picture of something and ask a question of the community. Walk by a statue you don’t recognize? Snap a photo and ask your community what it is. Someone using this new social network is bound to know the answer and quench your curiosity.
Using this new social network, our way
After a few weeks of following along, it’s obvious the users on Jelly are not necessarily following those prescribed rules and expectations. They are using Jelly in unexpected ways. Creating their own rules, testing their own results, the users are now in control of the app’s destiny.
In one experiment, Mana Ionescu, CEO and Founder of Lightspan Digital, was posting a question on Jelly everyday in the form of a simple graphic. This kicked off what she calls “#themorningconvo” and was connected to the same discussion which still thrives on Twitter. Some examples have been “What do you live for?” and “If you could change the color of something, what would it be and what color?” It was a clever way to engage the community in different ways.
In other examples, users hold up two items and ask “Which one should I buy” or “What should I eat?” While it’s a fun way to interact with your community, it’s not exactly tapping into the collective genius of the group.
Actual use defines the product.
Social apps invite this kind of participation. Social users, knowingly or not, are the controllers. When Instagram was still a new social network, it started off as a simple social tool, but users quickly took to the easy photo sharing. The organization had to pivot to really serve customers in the way they were demanding.
Rolling out any product or service is risky, but doing so in today’s social environment means risking giving up some control of how you THINK it will be used versus how users will actually participate.
Jelly still has a lot of potential, but it is not necessarily in the way its founders imagined. Users will continue to find ways to use it for all sorts of their own reasons. That’s OK, as long as the app itself continues to evolve with them.
As of today, users are commenting often that they would like the network to be searchable and offer better ways to engage others directly without having to pick up the conversation later on Twitter or Facebook. Others who disagree say they like how the interface is very straightforward and designed to prevent conversational clutter. Will Jelly adapt to suit these requests without turning itself into the huge mess their more satisfied fans are glad to get away from? Only time will tell.
I posted my first photo question to Jelly not long ago. Rushing to get to the airport, I hopped in a cab and zipped my purse up quickly. Too quickly, apparently, since my zipper became stuck. Like really stuck. I snapped a picture and posted to Jelly with the question “How do I unstick this zipper?” I received a few helpful answers, and was able to unstick it in time for my flight.
That’s what we want social to be, right? We want helpful advice from our like-minded community. I’ll be watching Jelly. Will you?