Have you heard of Jelly yet?
The idea, as outlined in the promotional video, is simple. Using the app on your mobile device, snap a picture of something, or find it on Google, and ask the Jelly community a question about it. Walk by a monument you don’t recognize? Take a picture and ask your community to identify it for you. Someone using this social network is bound to know the answer and quench your curiosity.
Users transcend the intended purpose.
After several weeks of following along, I realized the users on Jelly are not necessarily adhering to those prescribed rules and expectations. They are using Jelly in ways creator Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, did not foresee. 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 have for dinner?” While it’s a fun way to engage your community, it’s not exactly tapping into the collective genius of the group.
Actual use defines the future of the product.
Social media innovation often leaves the door open for this kind of participation. Social users, whether they know it or not, are the in control. 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 new product or service can be 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 purposes. That’s fine, as long as the app itself continues to evolve along 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. 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 asked my first photo question on Jelly several months ago. In a rush to get to the airport, I zipped my purse up quickly as I hopped into a cab. 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 several helpful answers, and was able to get my purse open in just time for my flight.
That’s what we want social media to be, right? We want helpful tips and suggestions from our like-minded community. I’ll be keeping my eye on Jelly. Will you?This post was written for, and a version originally appeared on, Social Media Club’s Clubhouse Blog.