Jelly app: the challenge of immediate primetime

When Jelly launched a week ago, it was amazing to see how quickly the app got traction – over 100K questions were asked during the first week.

Certainly, Jelly’s high profile team (co-founder Biz Stone, and individual investors like Jack Dorsey, Bono, and Al Gore) helped spark widespread speculation and buzz leading up to the launch. In addition, Jelly leverages users’ existing social graphs on Twitter and Facebook, so it immediately overcame the cold-start problem most platforms and marketplaces face when trying to build a user base at the beginning.

However, digging deeper into the quality of engagement during Jelly’s first week reveals some potential problems with this rapid ramp-up. Only 25% of questions posed ever received an answer. The daily active user count has been trending downward as the media buzz surrounding the initial launch tapers off. And, the number of people asking questions has outpaced the number of people answering them – pointing to a potentially unbalanced marketplace. You can find more data about Jelly’s first week from RJMetrics.

When an app’s user base ramps up so quickly, there’s no time for a community to form or for the product to mature. Immediate primetime is often a real risk for both. Jelly’s users are still trying to figure out how to make use of the service beyond identifying spiders or asking “What does the fox say.” And the very public nature of this launch may turn off casual users before its power users have a chance to hash out the most meaningful use cases.

At a time when growth hacking is top of mind for everybody, the Jelly experience reminds me of the value of growing slowly during the early stages of a product. A closed beta and/or delaying the push into existing social graphs might be two strategies to go back to.

Enhanced by Zemanta
  • Kevin Swan

    I agree with you, Boris. A great counter example to this is the approach of Quibb. When I first joined I was surprised at how slowly the community was growing, as it was invite-only and they curated members. However, the result is that the community grew together and the product matured accordingly, as you cited.

  • bwertz

    agree, Quibb is a very good example of building the community as was Twitter in an age when there were no existing social graphs at scale to leverage…

  • William Mougayar

    My own experience is as follows. I asked a silly question (Will questions on Jelly get any sillier?) and received over 40 answers, some very funny and silly ones. Then I posed a serious question, asking for advice on a home monitoring system, and received only 6 answers, but each one was really good and useful.

    My take is the jury is still out as to how its usage will equalize. I remember when Twitter was ridiculed for allowing you to tweet that you’re going to the bathroom. I’m sure that the Twitter co-founders had some deep insights from Twitter which allowed them to project some of that into their next ventures, e.g. Jelly, Medium, Square. I have joked before about the answer to- what comes after Twitter? A square medium jelly.

    That said, it’s ironic that if you strip down Jelly to its core mission (currently), nothing prevents you from asking a question on Twitter and getting similar types of answers from friends or strangers.

  • bwertz

    Great comment, William – definitely agree with your last point.

  • BestJohnD

    It was the verdict I heard shortly after release; basically Jelly is Twitter’s #lazyweb with a GUI. After the draw of novelty wears off, will there be enough appeal to maintain effort over existing functional networks?

  • William Mougayar

    unless they evolve it further, beyond the plain Q&A.

  • BestJohnD
  • bwertz

    It is interesting to see how quickly marketers jump on new social media channels these days – very different to a few years ago.

  • Paritosh Sharma

    Or on Quora.

    I strongly feel, Q&A is good, but when Q&A results into a ‘creation’ OR something tangible ‘happening’ that’s when the involved people will truly get engaged!

    eg: if backers on Kickstarter were not largely just inspired folks with money INSTEAD, they helped project creators overcome obstacles, minimise project risk and then put in the money!

    That’s when real ‘sustainable’ value will be created by highly engaged communities.

  • Emmanuel Bellity

    About your last comment, there is one important distinction : push notifications. The default state where you receive a push when someone from your network asks a question is key. It’s basically Twitter + push.

  • bwertz

    Great point

  • William Mougayar

    But I get notifications on Twitter. And you can elect to make them pop-up too if you like with Boxcar for e.g. Notifications is the first thing I check on Twitter.

    And who said that Push is good for productivity btw :)? It’s the biggest distraction ever.

  • Emmanuel Bellity

    What I mean is that on Twitter you get notified only when someone mentions you / interact with you directly. If you just Tweet, only a small percentage of your followers will actually read this specific tweet if they’re paying attention to their TL at this moment. So if you want to ask an important question, you won’t tap into the full potential of your network.

    If you ask that same question on Jelly, all your followers (who are on Jelly) will receive a push notification and be invited to answer. Potentially even your extended network. You’ll likely end up with more answers.

    Another parallel : I could share my location on Twitter, but few people will care. If I check in on Foursquare, I do it in part because I understand that all my friends in the area will receive a push notification and will know instantly what I’m up to!

  • Laurie

    I can foresee people with hundreds of followers will want a filter on their push notifications to restrict questions to those relating to their areas of expertise.