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Jelly: more Twitter than Draw Something?

As one of the many social media narks of this world, from Silicon Valley to Shoreditch, I downloaded Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's Jelly to see what all the fuss was about.

Ben Fox: social media strategist at ThirtyThree

Ben Fox: social media strategist at ThirtyThree

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I’d heard so much chatter about this on Twitter and felt the urge to jump in. A laggard in the social sphere this time around, but still way ahead of the mainstream public – and that got me wondering whether or not this type of communication would ever gather mass pick-up in the long-term.

The truth is, I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether this is a flash in the pan (I’m thinking Draw Something) or a long-term game changer. It’s hard to tell in the infancy of any new shiny toy, as the social media population in no way closely represents the general opinion of the masses.

Having recently seen "feta-gate" as I’m now coining it (where "feta cheese" became a popular answer to any question – weird and pointless), it’s tough to see whether this has the capacity to entertain people long enough to make something useful out of it. That’s why, in my opinion, as the hours spent using the app tick by, I see Jelly as a space that needs further development.

One downside I’ve spotted since connecting my personal Twitter and Facebook accounts is that there is no way to disconnect those channels, something that I hope the Jelly gang fix in the near future. After all, I don’t want to be tied into a long-term contract with a new social network that I might not even use beyond next week. This feels like a sneaky tactic by Jelly to "data grab", or even worse, make it tough for people to leave permanently.

As for the content I’ve seen, the majority of posts are not useful to the wider community at all. Questions asking your network’s network whether you should be drinking red or white wine; got me asking my own question, "Well, what do YOU want"? I flick through the questions. "What’s the time right now where you are?", "What would you say to a dinosaur if it spoke your language?", etc. I struggle to see myself being entertained for much longer.

Other posts that I’ve seen can be classified as pure boasting.

A user, not in my direct network, asked whether he should buy a chair (yes, a chair) for £1,400 after it was reduced in price from £2,000. Perhaps it’s the old fashioned cynic within that says these posts are just pure "eye-rollers" – the user didn’t want an opinion, he wanted acknowledgement that he could afford the product.

As reported this morning, Asda, Carphone Warehouse and Nando’s have adopted the social network immediately. On top of that, I’ve also spotted GE and CNBC using the platform, with GE seemingly using it in a similarly slick manner to their Instagram profile.

Clearly the key offering for these brands is the appeal of increased potential reach. If Jelly were to hit the true mainstream, there’s the attraction of pushing content out to the network’s network.

This huge increase in potential brand awareness is an attractive proposition, and doesn’t require a new following to be created – the Nando’s of this world can utilise their existing Twitter followers and, maybe shortly, Facebook fans too.

Regardless of what I think, I’ll sign off by saying, just try it. Brands are going to be scrambling for attention over the coming months on Jelly, and the life of the app will ultimately, as with all social networks, depend on the uptake from within the consumer market.

What has your experience of Jelly been so far? Impressed or bored already? Do you see it as a revolutionary new way to extend your network and information sources?

Leave a comment or tweet me on @bnfx, and let’s continue the conversation.

Ben Fox is a social media strategist at employer branding agency ThirtyThree.  

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