Jumo! what is it good for? ….
Like many working in the aid and development business I eagerly signed up for an account on the new “Social Network for do-gooders” Jumo (oohh shiny).
While others have done a more thorough job than I can (see this article from SSIR or this from Amy Sample Ward for good analyses), and I’ve only had a week of experience, I can’t resist a quick critique.
While I like the idea of having a good tool for social networking among those working in the not-for-profit world, I have to say I am a little disappointed with what I’ve seen so far.
Here are a few things that I think they didn’t get right:
1. Making people create accounts via facebook. While I like facebook, I like to use it mainly for private purposes, and so am not happy about the back and forth of information between the two systems. Some people I know have two facebook profiles, one for private and another for work, but like many, I can’t be bothered to do this. Of course many people I know in the not for profit world don’t have a facebook account at all and don’t want to have to create one just to join Jumo (apparently it will be possible to join without having to join facebook first at some point in the future).
2. Bugs – there were a lot of problems on the first day, but even now, a lot of things don’t seem to work properly. When I follow someone it doesn’t seem to work consistently, and even when it is noted on my profile page, it still says I’m only following one person by my avatar. If I look at other people, then it’s clear their follower followee details are incorrect. Notifications seems haphazard. I also don’t like that it only shows you a handful of the followers of any individual or organization. It often discover potential contacts by looking at someone else’s follow lists, but it doesn’t seem you can do this here.
3. Functionality – there seems to be a lack of any really useful functionality that distinguishes it from other platforms. An obvious question is why create a new platform at all, couldn’t we all just use facebook, twitter or something else that already exists? Maybe the advantage is that all the extraneous things from Facebook are stripped out (no farmville, or mafia wars), but also some of the useful functionality from other tools is also missing such as discussion boards, message threading, photo/video sharing. I also wonder whether it might have been good to have specific functionality relevant to the sector such as appeals, volunteering opportunities, vacancy announcements and maybe even ratings?
4. The network effect – One big element of any platform such as this is that there needs to be a sufficient network of people who are actively using the tool for the connections it facilitates to be useful. Right now, despite a lot of sign ups by the curious and a few names, I don’t see there being enough momentum. This isn’t helped by the lack of accurate visualization of people’s networks, so as to be able to make use of them.
5. Purpose – perhaps most importantly it’s not clear to me what Juno is for. Is it for fundraising and building relationships with donors? or is it for networking among those working on or concerned about not for profit issues? Right now it seems a bit of both but not fully either – and I’m not sure if the two are fully compatible. If it is for fundraising then it would need a much broader base of users from the general public – although its not clear why people would prefer to donate here rather than elsewhere except possibly because if they are successful you can find all organizations you might wish to donate to in one place. In this case think I’d want to find a lot more information about people to donate to than is currently being offered up on the site though (including user feedback).
If it is for networking among individuals and organizations involved in social good, then the donation aspect would need to be dialed down, and the network would need to be configured as more a kind of meeting or market place where people can form groups and share information around common interests, and where people could easily find interesting conversations, projects and opportunities.
While it’s early days, and many of the issues above could be fixed (especially given the strong backing Jumo has), first impressions count for a lot in the current crowded landscape. While Jumo may yet take off and become an indispensable tool for not-for-profits – unfortunately right now I’m not seeing a lot of added value.