Jelly’s a social media app for Android and iOS phones where users can find answers to questions they can’t get on traditional search engines like Google. It enables users to take photos (or choose existing ones) and tag related questions to their social network. In short, it’s a social crowd-sourcing tool.
Sounds like just another social network, right?
That might be the reaction of some museum professionals, especially with budgets and resources being so tight at the moment. It’s understandable that with every last bean counted, marketing and social media managers feel real pressure to quantify each and every one of their activities.
With something like Jelly, however, that’s difficult to do at such an early stage. It’s still a fledgling app that most people haven’t heard of. So it’s tempting to sit back and watch others. Monitor how different brands use Jelly and see what works and what doesn’t. Then maybe move in at a later stage when there’s a real buzz.
But I’d argue museums should be bold and get involved with Jelly now. Not because it’s new-fangled, or has Biz Stone’s name behind it. And not to show off the museum as an early adopter.
There’s something about Jelly that feels right for museums.
In the first week after its launch alone, 100,000 questions were asked.
And as we know from the success of #AskACurator day, people are curious to learn more about museums. When you invite people to ask questions, they will. However, it being Jelly, they might not ask the expected. After all, if you’re seeking information, you’d still more likely go to Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook or the museum website/blog. But for knowledge, or something that requires more than just a factual response, Jelly is where people might go.
Rather than being a tool to show off with a loudhailer, as many museums do on Twitter and elsewhere, Jelly is potentially a space for museums to quieten down, listen and then interact. Seek out user questions and try to answer them as best, or at least as wittily, as possible.
Jelly should be viewed as much more of a ‘bottom-up’ tool than Twitter or Facebook.
Jelly could also be a great tool for, that dreaded term, ‘engagement’. It could be beneficial in the lead-up to a new exhibition. Post a photo of one of the exhibition’s promotional posters and circle, using the draw functionality, different areas for feedback.
So is Jelly just another social networking site?
It could be. But is also has the potential, if museums are bold to embrace it yet at the same time mindful not to be too ‘loud’ when using, to be invaluable.