6 Comments

Summary:

Marketing efforts disguised as community content are par for the course once a platform has been established, but poisonous when it’s not had a chance to take off yet.

Jelly marketing

So, I’m uninstalling Jelly barely a week after the much-hyped Q&A service hit the Play Store. The app has potential that I can’t quite pin down yet, but right now it’s too annoying.

It’s not just a matter of the stupid questions, the lack of filtering, the inability to respond to responses (sometimes people need clarification on the question), or the distortion caused by having a contact who follows many thousands of people. It’s not even because of Biz Stone’s teeth-grindingly inane rationale for the whole thing (“We just kind of increase that global empathy quotient just a bit in our lifetime, and wouldn’t that be great?” – actual quote).

No, the real deal-breaker is the marketing. The thing launched like three seconds ago and already I’m getting notifications for “questions” from mobile phone companies, soft drink firms and so on. As Mashable put it, Jelly is the new “play toy” for brands.

Now, I’m not naïve. I know that a free app is going to come with an element of advertising. I get it – the revenue will come from brand partnerships or whatever. I think “native” (a.k.a deceptive) advertising sucks, but if it’s at least a bit obvious, it’s not the end of the world. Yay for media literacy.

But for Pete’s sake, can’t you marketers let me get comfy first? Maybe let me poke around and see why this new platform is fun (a debatable point) before you start hitting me over the head with the brand hammer? Do you have to be in there from day one?

Of course you do. Your business card probably has “social” printed on it somewhere, and it’s your job to experiment with new platforms, in order to see where the opportunities lie. In this case, the platform enjoyed vast reams of pre-launch hype, so you were ready and waiting.

Which is fine for you, but bad for Jelly. Why? Partly because of screen real estate.

Marketing on Twitter is only mildly annoying, because we’re only talking a few entries in a long stream of brief messages. Marketing on Facebook is significantly more annoying, because the ads are much bigger and take up maybe a third of the screen (don’t get me started on Facebook’s upcoming auto-playing video ads). So on Jelly, where each question takes up the whole screen, marketing becomes unbearable.

Also, push notifications. Without those, I’d forget I had Jelly installed – I haven’t had a chance to grow to like it yet, remember? With them, when the notification is for a poorly-disguised marketing message, I get stabby. As a rough guess, going on how it currently feels to use Jelly, I would say that 1 in 7 “questions” are tentatively trying to big up a brand or drive traffic to a site or post (around the same number are good questions, and the rest are just people messing around).

So for now, it’s bye-bye Jelly. Someone let me know when there’s a better ratio of good content to bad, and I’ll think about reinstalling it.

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  1. Benjamin Franklin…

  2. Michael Cunnyngham Thursday, January 16, 2014

    Noise ( advertising, marketing) is not necessary for a social app to thrive. It escapes me how none see the obvious and start monetizing the peer relationships these apps create.

  3. Respect Networks. Control will return.

  4. Feta cheese.

  5. Ted Sapountzis Friday, January 17, 2014

    David, I completely agree with your premise. Jelly is at best an experiment at this stage. The noise-to-signal ratio is deafening and the lack of ability to curate / filter, comment etc. are big shortcomings IMHO

  6. This is less of a problem about marketers and more of a problem of Jelly launching way too lean without enough signal control. This was an app that any social app designer would have expected to be trolled, be off-topic most of the times, and be used in ways not promoted (remember TinyReview?). There’s not even a way to limit the kinds of push notifications you get — it only takes one friend who is playing with too many questions too quickly to get you to want to delete and quit this app. It’s not just a few marketers.

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