What’s Up, Yo?

What Is Yo?

Photo of Yo homescreen

Having completed its first round of funding, this seemingly innocuous one-word messaging app, valued by investors at $10 million, has jumped up the ranks of the iOS and Android app stores and quickly become the fastest way to send a salutation to one another. It seems like a simple idea. Give the user the ability to send a “hello” or “what’s up?” or any other notification one can imagine with just two single letters, “Y” and “O.” That’s right. Its sole purpose is to let people send a text just by saying “yo.”

We can all agree the Yo app is…kind of stupid. But as a platform, it has great potential. Its ability to deliver a new kind of notification system is part of the Yo experience. Yo’s potential to be more than an app lies in its ability to be a platform for the mobile Yo app user. But for Yo to become a well-loved app and live up to its million-dollar valuation, it needs to drive rapid and simultaneous adoption among consumers and developers.

Core Mobile Experience

Companies like Android and Apple create extendable platforms through their smartphones. Apps like Facebook and Pinterest started on the desktop and then made successful transitions to mobile platforms.

Photo of Yo notification

Occasionally a mobile experience emerges at the app layer and creates a core experience. (Think Snapchat or Shazam.) For example, Instagram turned the phone into a camera-centric community, beyond what most people thought the phone’s camera’s potential could be. WhatsApp turned simple texting into a more flexible and visual messaging experience.

What Marketers Can Learn from Yo

The big lesson marketers can learn from Yo is context is important. However a product or service is used, the context in which it is utilized is what matters. As CEO and co-founder of Yo says, “We are here to cut through the noise. We call it context-based messaging.”

Context can mean a lot, especially when it comes to a “yo.” Sending a “yo” isn’t just about blowing up your friend’s phone with notifications like a Facebook poke, or a Twitter mention. Some users are using Yo to let others know they thinking about them. Others are using it as a way to reengage a person after a date. It’s about where you are and who is sending the “yo.”

Yo could be used by consumers, businesses and others to mean all kinds of things, including:

  • “Your table is ready”
  • “The doctor can see you now”
  • “The meeting is about to start”
  • “Your package is waiting at the front desk”
  • “I love you”

But a “yo” without context is just noise.

Learning from the Past

The next big thing often initially appears, well, stupid. Wikipedia was rich with errors at its launch, and no one really saw beyond Instagram’s filters when it first came out. Twitter was first described as a “poor man’s email” and the Internet darling Airbnb was just a hipster, mattress-sharing website before the hotel industry knew what hit them.

Yo may seem simple. I mean, come on — it’s just two letters. But this simplicity will teach us a thing or two about how we consume conversation.

Have a question? Yo me! (Or, go old school and post in the comments below.)

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