Funky new social network grabbing the headlines
Facebook business users continue to grow
Twitter and Instagram advertising gaining traction
If police raided the headquarters of social media golden child Ello, its owners would have us believe they’d find a hippy commune gently swaying to the sounds of 1960s psychedelic music.
There’s no doubting they want us to “feel the love” for their stripped down, ad-free hangout. This chilled-out image fits well with Ello’s mojo as the antithesis of everything commercialised social networks now represent.
Ello’s manifesto vows it won’t collect, track or sell any data despite being free for anyone with an invitation to join.
In a thinly veiled dig at the likes of Facebook, it decries how popular social channels have become slaves to the lure of advertising revenue and forgotten the real reason they exist.
“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,” the Ello website states.
“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.”
Ironically, the soft sell mantra has seen registrations on Ello’s network explode over the last fortnight. Some estimates have them peaking at more than 30,000 an hour.
What Are the Lessons?
The viral growth begs the question: What can we learn from the Ello experience?
My first take on the swift rise of Ello is that the appetite for social networking is still tracking at warp speed.
Ello has tapped into a sizeable market niche that is suspicious of the corporate ethos driving changes to the user experience on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Originally conceived as a private network, it was swamped by artists and musicians wanting in on a network that was free of advertising and not increasingly driven by commercial interests.
Drowned by a huge wave of requests to join, Ello made access to the network by invitation only. This made more people curious and the Ello legend grew.
Now everyone is talking about Ello and if you haven’t received an invitation to join, the standing joke is that you must lead a lonely life.
But the latest Australian social media stats obtained by SocialMediaNews.com.au show the three biggest social networks are maintaining and continuing to grow their audience, albeit slowly, as well.
Last month, the number of Facebook users was up 200,000 to 13,600,000. While the figures don’t break down how many of these new accounts belonged to business or individuals, a clear trend is emerging for businesses to shift their marketing spend from generic search to social network pages and, increasingly, social advertising.
With advertising now widely used on Twitter through promoted Tweets and Twitter Cards, and direct sell buttons available on Instagram appealing to retailers, Ello has clear appeal to a social audience seeking an advertising free haven.
But Ello won’t die wondering what it might be like to turn a profit. Its business model is to charge for progressive rollouts of add-ons such as private messaging, video integration and multimedia comments.
I suspect loyalty amongst the fan base will fade unless Ello find a way of continuing to provide a useable and evolving free service. Ultimately, the temptation to follow the same path as their predecessors might be too hard to resist.
Image by Thomas Hawk Flickr