Wednesday 03 December, 2014
Facebook has made some mistakes in the past. From raising serious privacy concerns to plastering itself with ads after promising not to, it has rubbed lots of people the wrong way. This doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that it’s giving up or losing steam. It has a hundred million users worldwide and all kinds of wild schemes like sending its own Wi-Fi drones to areas of the globe that don’t have internet access (I’m not kidding!), so it’s definitely here to stay.
But Facebook’s foibles have created a gap in the market for people who are angry at the social media giant and want something a little different. This is where Ello comes in. Touted as the unsocial social network, Ello presents a minimal interface, an ad-free experience, and total anonymity.
The Rise of Ello
Ello appeared on the scene earlier this year and as news of its arrival spread, people signed up by the thousands. It famously raised $5.5 million in venture capital funding and has reportedly passed the million-user mark (although this doesn’t tell you how many active users it has).
Ello rose dramatically, but many people are wondering how exactly it’s going to stay there. Its entire vision rests on the fact that it’s secure, private and ad-free, which is not exactly the path to monetization.
As its manifesto states:
Your social network is owned by advertisers.
Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way…We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate—but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.
Whether Ello succeeds or not, it’s definitely a wake-up call to social media sites like Facebook and online empires like Google. The writing on the wall is loud and clear – People want their privacy and they don’t want to be marketed to.
Some Thoughts on Marketing with Ello
After reading the above, you probably don’t see Ello as a goldmine of internet marketing opportunity. But let me just take a minute to offer some tips and thoughts on what this fledgling social media site could offer.
Know the Market. Yes, your brand can use Ello to your advantage. But you have to understand that the demographic using Ello is going to be a special one. These people are especially anti-ad and anti-marketing. This means you’ll have to tread carefully in what you do there.
Relationship Building. Social media is about relationship building rather than sales anyway, so use it for that purpose. Since the site’s anti-ad rhetoric is its major selling point right now, use this to your advantage in making connections with your audience.
Wait and See. As with all new “it” social media networks that pop up, I recommend joining and playing around with it. It could be big and if it blows up, you’ll want to be there.
Most pundits believe that the site will have to monetize somehow eventually. That venture capital money is going to run out. Facebook isn’t the only site that started off with promises of remaining ad-free only to fall. Tumblr’s story is similar. It’s possible that Ello will change its tune as well.