Early Thoughts on Jelly and What It Could Mean for Your Brand

January 13, 2014

By now, you’ve probably at least heard of Jelly, the social Q&A app launched by Twitter Co-Founder, Biz Stone last week. Some have said it’s Instagram meets Quora as this mobile app allows people to pose a question with a picture (required), which members of their social graph — served via Jelly’s algorithm — can then respond to. Let’s take a look at some early thoughts on Jelly 

Moments after installing the app, I had this to say about it on Facebook:

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And, comments from others were quite similar. (Side note – I’m pretty sure this was also my first reaction to Twitter years ago.)

After a few days of swiping my way through, here’s my initial reaction, coupled with those responding to a question posed by a fellow Jelly user:

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The User Experience

Jelly uses an interesting “swipe down” feature to scroll through questions currently awaiting answer. Per my initial comments on Facebook, I found this cumbersome at first, and I wasn’t alone in that reaction:

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After some time with it, I’ve got the hang of it, and actually kind of like it. A word of caution, though — there’s no way to swipe back. From what I can tell, once you’ve swiped past a question, it doesn’t surface again.

Answering a question is as easy as click, type, and done.  Whether you want to answer the question or not, you can read through those submitted by others — this is a side swipe though, not the down.

As far as creating a post with a question, that’s all pretty straightforward and similar in functionality to other apps. Start the post, snap a picture or use one from photos, type your question, and post. Then, you’re notified of answers to your question via your activity stream and or by push notification.

Both questions and answers allow you to add a link to the post, and there’s a nifty drawing feature offers the ability to provide additional context or direction and, it’s fun too, as you can see in the answer I received on this question:

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The Concept

Really, the Q&A concept isn’t a new one. (Quora, Ask.com, etc.) Many (including myself) have pondered, “Why ask it on Jelly if you can just ask on Twitter or Facebook?”

Take this example. I posed my first question on Jelly last Saturday morning and surprised at how quickly I received answers – about 10 in less than an hour, and 20 in the next few. By contrast, I asked the exact same question (with picture) on Twitter and got two replies.

While this is certainly not scientific, here’s my observation — on Jelly, you’ve got a set of people who have opted in for one specific thing — to answer questions. And, as opposed to Twitter’s rapidly moving stream, questions in Jelly are (seemingly) available in the feed until someone swipes it away.

But is that enough? Currently, (as is to be expected, I suppose) most of the Q&A on Jelly is clearly people who experimenting with random rhetorical musings with fun answers like my question above. But, others are taking it more seriously:

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Layered in to the Q&A functionality is the ability to favorite questions or to mark them as “good.” In turn, answers can also be marked as “good,” “don’t like” or “inappropriate” and you can send a thank you to those who have answered your question (no replies – that’s odd to get used to.)

It seems to me that long-term, there could be a bit of an influence scoring happening here, and perhaps individuals would be ranked for their ability to provide good answers to questions on various topics, similar to Klout. There’s also a “share” function, and while I’ve not seen it happen yet, we could start to see some cross-platform activity. (Also something to be aware of if you’re big on privacy.)

Brand Implications

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 11.48.55 PMI’m wary of even going there this early, but it is a worthy conversation. Peter Kim brings up some great points in this post, Should Brands Jump Into Jelly?

Undoubtedly, brands should be aware of new apps and platforms on the horizon, but, slow down. Don’t go jumping in. The early adopters are still figuring out how to use it. Don’t go mucking that up with “Hey, have you seen our newest product available for $9.99?”

As Kim pointed out in his post, average consumers haven’t heard even heard of Jelly, and likely won’t for a while, if ever. (We’ve been freaking out about Snapchat for months and yet, many have still yet to use it, right?)

Do observe, though. If this thing takes off, there could be a gold mine of information there. (Heck, I still check out Quora every now and then.) But remember, the questions and answers here are being posed by a small subset of the population who are tech-savvy, early adopters.

From a brand perspective, step back and look at the bigger picture. People are becoming more and more comfortable and likely to seek information from their social networks before traditional search engines like Google. I’m not going to pose an “SEO is dead, long live social” argument, here, but I don’t see this trend reversing. So once again, it comes down to doing good business and ensuring you have brand advocates in the digital space who are likely to recommend – and potentially, defend — your brand online.

Second, images are here to stay. Everyone can point, shoot, publish, and inquire. Whether it becomes the norm for social search remains to be seen, but we will continue to populate the Internet with images to be indexed and searched. We saw beginnings of this with Google Goggles and then really began to see the contextual relevance of this with Pinterest and Google Image Search.

To have a slice of this pie, brands need to provide relevant, useful, visual content that can compete in the noise.

Closing Thoughts

The value and relevance of this mobile app is dependent on its users. It will be interesting to see if, once the novelty wears off, that surfaces.

What do you think? Next time you have a question, will you “Jelly it”?

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.