Jelly: What is it and who will use it?

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Last week saw the launch of Jelly, the newest social app to hit iOS and Android. Jelly is the latest offering from Jelly Industries, set up by Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter. But what is it and who will use it? 

OK, Jelly is a number of things, I have seen it described as a ‘global pub quiz’, a ‘search engine’, ‘a google meets instagram’. If you watch the Jelly video intro on jelly.co you’ll hear Biz describe it as a ‘new way to search’ based on the unarguable fact that everyone is now mobile and always connected. 

Essentially, Jelly is a place where members are able to post photos of anything and ask questions related to that photo. For example, you might be a tourist in Istanbul and come across a landmark and want to know what it is - rather than asking on Facebook or Twitter and hoping one of your contacts knows the answer, you can now post it to Jelly and delve into the knowledge of every member of the platform. Or you may find an unusual food item in the local market and want an answer to what it is and what you can do with it, same thing applies, put it up on Jelly and wait for the flurry of answers and suggestions. 

You get the idea….

This for me, is where the big difference is between Jelly and existing platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With those guys you are effectively restricted to asking those people that you are already connected to, sure they can re-tweet or share your picture and question but that’s going to become really messy very quickly. Jelly offers an open resource, your photo can be seen by pretty much every member of the community via your connections’ connections and therefore you are tapping into a much larger pot of knowledge. 

And it’s quick! I accept that so far the community has only really been populated by a few ‘early adopters’ which basically means those of us working in the digital industry, but my experience to date has been that questions get answered quickly. Not always sensibly I have to add, but quickly.

There are of course drawbacks to the way this all works, there is currently, for example, no means by which you can reply to an answer. So if someone offers an answer and you want to clarify something or ask another question of that reply, you can’t. Or if you were to spot an incorrect answer to a question there is currently no way of directly highlighting this in a single conversational thread. This means that you are at the mercy of your best judgement when it comes to filtering the answers and deciding what to take a chance on as being right, and what to classify as BS.

So what problem does it set out to solve? Well I am not to sure that it does set out to solve a problem per se, I don’t think any of us would suggest we are lacking a quick and easily accessible knowledge resource in our day to day lives and we certainly don’t sit around all day thinking “you know, I really need another social network in my life” but somehow Jelly seems to have hit on something and found a way of offering something new in terms of knowledge sharing. As Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Strategy at Adobe said to me on twitter over the weekend, what Jelly does is put the emphasis on the answerer and not the questioner. This is interesting in itself as I see what he means but does this not contradict Biz’s view that this is a new way to search? I welcome thoughts on this...

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Who will use it? I think this will genuinely become a social platform that we all turn to both for a bit of fun and also for genuine requests for help with a question. Yes, there are lots of ‘does my bum look big in this’ and ‘should I get my hair cut’ type questions on there but people are just playing with it right now, and seeing as we are not restricted to receiving answers from people we know we might even get an honest reply! I have also seen some great questions posted that have received some really helpful answers. I know I picked up a superb new healthy recipe using an unusual ingredient I had seen but did not know from a question posted.

There have also been the usual ‘what does this mean for brands’ type questions on there, this is of course inevitable bearing in mind the people using the platform right now but I can see clearly ways in which brands can leverage this platform. Holiday and Travel companies in particular will find it a fantastic way of engaging with their communities and increasing their networks. We all love to post photos of our holidays and travels and I can see how businesses and indeed the destinations themselves will be able to tap into this using Jelly. I can see Jelly based treasure hunts and photo competitions working really well for example.

Indeed people are on there asking for holiday destination recommendations so this could be a great route for community managers to promote their portfolio of holidays. Will we all be on there taking photos of used cars either from the forecourt or indeed photos of used car search results to ask for opinions and recommendations? Could this become an un-sanitised ratings platform? Might do.

I do also think the key to the success of this for brands will be to keep the focus on the user and ensuring brands do not try and hijack it too overtly. This feels like a very personal platform, probably because of its mobile focus, and for me the content needs to be firmly user generated. Brands I think will benefit more from answering questions rather than asking them. Brands will also really need to keep an eye on this platform and what photos of their products are being posted and what questions asked. This is going to be quite a challenge.

All in all it is early days but I really like Jelly and I can confidently predict that it will be a keeper on my iPhone.

 

Image Credits: Jelly.com