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?”