Is Jelly The Next Twitter? Use Biz Stone’s Q&A App For Business

Not so long ago (7 years, to be exact), this thing called Twitter came into being. When this micro-blogging tool hit the Interwebs, there were two kinds of people that were using it; those who saw the potential and experimented, and those who tried using it, but really couldn’t get the point of it. In fact, it was doubtful that even the co-founders of Twitter could even imagine how popular and important the app would be, less than a decade down the road.

Fast forward to 2011 and Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, leaves Twitter to do something different. In 2013, that something turned into a new app, which launched in January 2014. A bit of Twitter, a bit of Instagram, a bit of Wikipedia and a whole lot of potential. Welcome to the world of Jelly.

Why Does It Always Start with Food?

I started using Jelly about a week after it was officially released, curious, like most Social Media “early adopters” about what it was and what it could do. A visual based platform that allows people to post an image and crowd source an answer to questions like, “What is this?” or “How can I fix that?” Almost immediately I could see the experimentation. Like so many platforms that have a visual component, food seemed to be popular from the outset. A popular one is a picture of food and the question: “guess where I am.” In much the same way that people in the Twitterverse no longer care about what you are having for breakfast, there weren’t a lot of answers to that question. Instead, the most traffic was around questions that were really looking for answers. “Does anyone know what this is? I found it under my car.” or “What are they building here, at the corner of 1st and Main?” Some questions are fluff, some are thought provoking and others are just outright “buy my s**t” marketing. The experimenting continues.

Think Educating, Not Marketing.

There is a real potential in this app, but you first have to get your mind out of what you know and into what you can learn. One of the best uses of it that I have seen, so far, was one where a math teacher on one end of the country helped a student on the other end of the country with her math problem. She posted a picture of her math formula with the question “what am I doing wrong?” Through the inevitable smartass answers, there was one from an actual math teacher, who circled the section that was wrong and added “Some may think they are ‘Greater Than’ others, but, in truth, they are ‘Less Than’ they think”. It was a subtle and humourous assist to someone who needed assistance, which is really what this app is about. With added features like being able to attach links and (my personal favourite) the ability to draw, such as circling the answer to a multiple choice question, Jelly becomes one of the more useful new apps out there, today.

Still Room to Sell

As I mentioned, I have already seen the marketers out there, trying to see where they fit in this new environment and, as usual, they are trying to apply what they know to something they don’t know. Some are treating it like Twitter with an added Twitpic (Our new widget is out today!), while others are treating it like Facebook (What’s your favourite widget?). From a marketing standpoint, this can be a tool to get instant feedback on a product (What are your thoughts on this new design?). It’s even better from a customer service standpoint (I broke this piece off of my widget. Where can I get a new one or get it fixed?). Companies that are listening have a great opportunity to engage existing current customers (and potential new ones), by offering useful answers to consumer questions. Even if the question does not feature your brand, there is an opportunity to be the brand with the answer.

Jelly is in it’s infancy and can still add a few features to enhance its appeal (connection to LinkedIn, for one), but I do see it having a valuable place in the Social Media world, as an answer to “where¬†can I go to ask a question?”

Sean Smith
Sean is a retired member of the Canadian Army, with over 20 years in the IT industry, ranging from IT HelpDesk to Social Media consultant. He is a Professional Speaker and Coach and is a noted Social Media community builder on Vancouver Island, as well as a regular contributor to the annual Social Media Camp held in Victoria, BC. Sean is the Head Coach with That Social Media Guy consulting, based in Campbell River, British Columbia
Sean Smith


  1. says

    Hey Sean! Great write-up, I enjoyed it, especially since I'm a user of Jelly as well.

    Let me play devil's advocate here, mainly so I can learn more. So far, what you can do on Jelly, you can do on a million other sites as well. You can ask questions on any number of social networks and sites, especially actual Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers. What makes this app unique enough to last?

    As for brands, they have the ability to chime in and answer questions all over already, especially on Twitter, but they just plain hardly ever do because most are reactive instead of proactive in their approach. Where is the appeal here to help people, as a brand, that isn't on other sites?

    Again, I like the app, but just playing DA so I can actually learn more about its potential. Thanks, Sean!

  2. says

    All great points, Cedar! Here is how I look at it.

    Jelly is a question seeking an answer, versus an answer to a question.

    Like Twitter, it encourages engagement, both through notifications of new questions and the fact that you can send a simple thank you for an answer or even forward to the question to someone in your network that has the answer.

    It's visual component shares and equal space with the text side, so the content can easily attract both kinds of users (not everyone is a visual based surfer). Additional features, such as the drawing component, ad a much more personal touch that almost all of the other options out there.

    Jelly, as I said, is in it's infancy and there are many more things that I am sure they will add to the experience, down the road. I also have no doubt that marketers will attempt to hijack the platform (no, NSA, I am not talking about terrorism), for their traditional "buy my s**t" marketing, but I think both the public and the business community, eventually, see the value in the instant access to the global knowledge based that is out there.

  3. says

    Good points, Sean. That triple threat of text, image, and drawing make it quite popular compared to other sites. We live in a time where we are all impatient and want everything right now, including a bajillion updates to make this app a little more useful. I know I feel that way and sometimes forget how not long ago this app just started and barely has any users at the moment. It's also kinda fun to see a few brands having fun on there, especially Ben & Jerry's and Whole Foods. I look forward to their next updates.

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