Trendspotting: Ello, are you there?

Social Media Marketing


Have you heard about Ello? It’s the latest social network on the block, and it’s being touted as the “anti-Facebook.” It’s an ad-free, invite-only social network, and beautifully designed. According to Ello’s “About” page, Ello won’t sell or use any user data without explicit permission, which has many people (especially those who are suspicious of Facebook’s data use) clamoring for invites.

Since its public launch in September, Ello has experienced overwhelming success, with a high volume of daily invite and user signups (approx. 50,000) that has already crashed their servers (only once so far).

Ello, Nice to Meet You!

Because Ello users can invite up to 25 people, it’s not that hard to come by an invitation. You may have seen posts (ironically on Facebook) by people in your network announcing that they joined, but if you don’t have an invite you can request access on their site… or there are a few for sale on eBay:

Ebay Ello Inivitation

With its huge adoption rate, and no ads, there is plenty of speculation about how Ello will sustainably grow and become profitable. The answer is in their “freemium” model. The network is free now, but Ello will eventually charge its users for additional features and even tighter privacy settings. It’s making a bet that users will be willing to pay for increased privacy and an enriched feature experience.

Social Features

Similar to Google+, Ello allows you to categorize users you connect with into two categories, friends, and noise without publicizing that classification. Originally Ello banned pornographic content but similar to tubmlr, it has since moved to open their network to NSFW content with flagging to protect users who do not want to see that material. Unlike the social network giant, Facebook, Ello does not have a like button, because they view it as a way to collect data on users. Instead, the word is that they are opting to implement a love button, which will act like a saved reading list for the user.

What About Brands?

Ello allows brand accounts and, according to their site, the beauty of their platform is that users who don’t want to see/engage with brands on Ello won’t have to. A few brands have already done their land-grab for Ello real-estate and are experimenting with creative ways to engage users on the platform.

But, as with all social marketing, brands will have to ask themselves: “Does this fit into our brand and digital strategy?” If Ello’s audience is your audience, you might find great success on Ello, driving traffic and creating an engaging presence. Others will treat Ello as yet another social network to put a stake in the ground and move on.  Only time will tell what success will look like for brands on Ello or if Ello will continue to grow to rival Facebook.

Whether or not you experiment with Ello for your brand, there are a couple lessons that the mass adoption illustrates for marketers: First, that people feel inundated by ads and are tired of seeing them invade their social experiences. People are on social networks to socialize and want to feel like ads are part of their experience versus an interruption of their experience. And second, that we, as marketers, need to give our audience more preferences, allowing them to create a more personalized view of our ads.

Have you signed up for an account? What’s your impression on how marketers should or shouldn’t participate on this ad-free social network? Let me know what you think in the comments below.