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Yo Seeks To Diversify, Demonstrate Utility

Can Yo Dig It?

Too often social media is accused of being frivolous, shallow, insincere; everything from Facebook’s early ‘poke’ feature to Twitter’s very concept of a 140 character limit has come under fire at some point or another. Some of these criticisms end up being more accurate than others – Facebook has sidelined the poke, although it’s still there if you’re willing to dig through a couple of menus – and sometimes, as in the case of Twitter, protestors more resemble King Cnut beating back the sea.

Few apps, however, have incited as much incredulity and sometimes even outright hostility as Yo. The messaging (in the loosest possible sense of the word) app had a single feature: users could send the word ‘yo’ to any contact who also had the app installed. That person could, in turn, send a ‘yo’ back, and presumably that exchange could continue back and forth until the eventual heat death of the universe.

In the strange parallel universe that is the world of cutting edge social technology development, however, Yo received $1.5 million in venture capital funding and the company was valued somewhere between $5 million and $10 million.

The company is now making moves to justify that investment, by introducing a slate of new features this week. The most notable of these is the ability to send URL links along with your ‘yo,’ perhaps an indicator of the app’s intention to circle around some of Twitter’s territory while that company focuses on revamping its direct messaging service.

The perception of Yo as a Twitter-lite is reinforced by the app’s additional introduction of hashtags alongside URLs. Of course users can’t actually send any comments along with these hashtags (unless ‘yo’ counts as a comment, which it doesn’t) but it demonstrates a general intention on the part of the app to move in a more social direction. You can view trending hashtags on the app’s desktop site. #Yo is currently the sixth most popular hashtag, which seems a little redundant.

The rumour mill has Yo’s long-term plans as establishing itself as the first centralised notification app. Rather than giving out your mobile number to all and sundry you could get hit up with a Yo when your food is ready to be picked up, or your car is done at the mechanic’s, or your doctor is available for your appointment. Israelis can already get sent a Yo when there are reports of rockets headed to their area, which already puts it ahead of Vine in the valuable ‘saved lives’ demographic.

What this all relies on, of course, is reaching the ever-elusive critical mass – especially for an app which aspires to the kind of universal utility which Yo may be aiming for. For this it needs to overcome its burgeoning reputation as the dumbest app ever (even Apple initially rejected it from the App Store), which may be difficult. Worse ideas have made it big, though, and thanks to its recent cash injection Yo is now actively recruiting developers and engineers to help build and refine the app. Who knows, perhaps in five years we’ll look back and laugh at the fact that we ever doubted the genius and infinite possibilities of the Yo.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Yo Seeks To Diversify, Demonstrate Utility Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Rating: 5
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