Yesterday, Jumo released its beta platform to the world, but the launch was far from seamless.  Founded by Facebook Co-founder Chris Hughes, Jumo bills itself as a “social network for the social sector.” At TechChange, we spent a few hours on the new site and here are some of our first impressions.

Technical glitches galore: For starters, it took us over an hour of refreshing and revisiting Jumo to create a profile and an organization page for TechChange.  The team at Jumo was clearly not prepared for the traffic. Hughes on his Twitter account, about five hours ago. “@jumoconnect users. If you’re seeing something wonkey, just hold tight. Good problem to have.” Jumo staff will hopefully get these issues worked out in the next few days, but if it continues this could be a serious problem. Internet users tend to have little patience for sites that crash easily. As we heard Mark Zuckerberg’s character say in the movie the Social Network “let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everybody else; we don’t crash, ever! If the servers are down for even a day our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed.”

Once we got the site working here’s what we saw:

Facebook integration: Jumo requires users to have a Facebook account before registering so that it can integrate with Facebook. This saves users time and builds friend lists automatically, but it also might upset some concerned about privacy. You can configure settings to stop your Facebook page from reporting your Jumo activity in the settings tab.

Social Issues: As individuals we were asked to identify issues to follow (education reform, governance and peace, health, etc). The drop down lists for these areas of concern were fairly narrow and prescriptive. For instance, when we clicked on education, we had to choose between afterschool programs, at-risk youth, educational reform and education for girls. Then each of those options has more specific sub-categories. Hopefully more categories will be added with time because we had many issue interests that went beyond the listed categories.

Individual profile page: We really liked the concept of having an entire profile dedicated to what social issues, organizations someone is passionate about and having a platform dedicated to pulling the most relevant issue and organization-related content together in one place. It still needs some work but the potential is there.

Newsfeeds: Once we identified our issues, news stories appeared in a news feed that related to these issues. We could also vote them up or down. We liked this feature of being able to read about issue related news stories although we’re still not sure how these stories were selected or where they’re coming from.  News from the organizations we followed also appeared in the feed along with news about one’s social issues.

Organizational profile page. Once we registered as an individual we decided to try and create a Jumo page for TechChange. We we’re able to create a “new project” and then were able to link it directly to the TechChange Facebook page with a Facebook ID which pulled our Facebook feed into Jumo. We were also asked to identify the issues we are working on which then appear in the newsfeed. There were a few other features like setting links to our blog, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo accounts, etc. Other than that it’s a little thin at the moment, but the concept of having individuals follow organizations and having a central social network for social issues, individuals, and NGOs has tremendous potential.

TechChange Jumo Profile

TechChange Jumo Profile


Help Box: Some kind of help feature would be nice. The navigation of this site is not intuitive and there are lots of confusing aspects to it.

Friends: Some way to control friend feed? What if I don’t want to be associated with someone in Jumo but I’d like to keep them as a facebook friend?

Twitter Integration: The only way you can pull a feed from your Twitter account is if your Facebook and Twitter accounts are synced through facebook. Other than that, all you can do is link out to your Twitter account. Seems to us that Twitter has become a far more valuable tool for organizations than Facebook in recent years and without a stronger integration this may spell trouble for Jumo.

There were some neat features but the jury is still out as to how this site will add value to other social networking platforms. There’s no question that the nonprofit industry could use some energy and innovation with platforms like Facebook Causes having certainly slowed down recently. And the concept of creating more meaningful relationships between people, causes, and organizations is a powerful one.  But it’s still a little early to tell if this will indeed be the “game changer” that some news agencies are calling for. We suggest giving it a try, but temper your expectations for the moment.

Anyone else try it out yesterday?

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