Will Ello Social Network Kill Facebook?
And so begins the story of yet another Facebook-killer: Ello. When I first joined the Ello social network, I felt like a grandma trying to figure out Facebook. So unhip. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. The interface is so simple, and yet, I found myself confused and slightly overwhelmed.
This left me wondering: Are we so used to complex that simple is perplexing? I posted on my feed but wasn’t completely sure if I had actually posted. I invited a friend but wasn’t sure if the invite had gone through. It’s minimalistic interface left me sitting there and wondering: that’s it?
It’s hard to believe that something so simple could possibly take on something so complex. However, with 31,000 people requesting invites to Ello each hour (and some even trying to sell invites on eBay for $100 each), it is definitely turning heads of not only people who are tired of the advertising-centric Facebook, but also brands (Sonos, Engadget, Netflix, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, The World Health Organization, etc.).
Should You Put Your Brand on Ello?
So what exactly does the rise in Ello’s buzz mean for brands? Honestly, I doubt anyone truly knows the answer.
There have been countless articles, including one by the Atlantic, in which they give a shoutout to the mysterious person running their Ello account. The common theme being: brands are creating Ello accounts (or someone else is for them), and they don’t know what to do with the accounts.
I doubt anyone other than our main man himself, Paul Budnitz (Ello founder), can truly answer everyone’s underlying question: Do brand pages belong in the Ello-sphere?
3 Questions for Ello Social Network Founder Paul Budnitz
If he wasn’t so busy managing an exploding network (not to mention his other companies), I would have wanted to speak to Paul Budnitz and really get inside his head, because Ello has left me (and I’m sure many others) scratching my head.
1. How do you define “advertising” in the Ello-sphere?
The Ello Manifesto stresses the creation of an advertising-free platform; however, your bike shop, Budnitz Bicycles, has an Ello page. Does this mean brands can join the network and post promotional content without it being considered advertising? I guess we are all just confused by your conflicting manifesto and actions.
Ok, so you are allowing brands to create pages on Ello. Cool. I can understand it’s different than current Facebook, because you have to actively search brands to follow their feed. But how is this different from early stage Facebook when you had to actively search and follow brands to see their content?
Eventually you will need a way to monetize and sustain. You will probably start charging users for certain features (or so the buzz is on the cyber-streets). Are you telling me that you will charge brands the same amount for advance features as individual users? That sounds a lot like the tax debate to me!
3. Does No Censoring REALLY mean you will not police inappropriate or slandering content?
There are a lot of people with free time on their hands. Let’s take the guy/girl behind Dominos’ Ello page who has taken it upon him/herself to mock the brand. I am sure this could become a legal issue, however, one of Ello’s foundational principals is also to not censor. In fact, you allow users to post porn (and create some very inappropriate anti-feminist content like “Bitches on Bikes“) simply requesting them to mark it as “Not Suitable for Work (NSFW).” If you swear to not censor, then how are you going to come down on these pages that are clearly a mockery of established brands?
My Advice to Brands Evaluating Ello
I guess my struggle with Ello is its promises seem too good to be true. They sound like promises a guy makes to a girl when he just wants to get in her pants. Apart from the fact that an ello.co/yournamehere URL is prime online real-estate at the moment, after using the platform for about a week and reading countless articles about it, I can advise brands only two things:
1. Get an invite and reserve your URL, because the last thing you want is for an independent individual that has no association with your brand, other than that one horrible experience he/she had, to manage your page. Also, with something so fresh and new, you never know if it will blow up or not.
At this time, it’s just not worth it. Unless…
- You are some sort of hipster third-wave coffee shop. There are so many already on there.
- A brand that really resonates with the LGBT community. Ever since Facebook required individuals to use their real name and shut down the accounts of many drag queens, this population has been looking for a platform to let them be themselves freely and take on whatever persona they want. Ello has become very popular among the LGBT community because it allows for exactly that and does not require people to publish their real name.
- A brand that appeals to graphic designers. Paul Budnitz is a well reputed graphic designer himself and the network started off as a platform for his fellow designer friends.
Will Ello thrive and conquer or slowly die?
So, will the Ello social network join the cyber grave with Path and Diaspora or will it flourish like Facebook & Twitter? In the words of Ello, let’s all “connect, create, and celebrate life” as we wait and see what becomes of this new supposed Facebook-killer.
NOTE 10/22: Paul Budnitz is awesome and offered to answer my questions! Check out my interview with him: https://www.rivaliq.com/blog/ello-ceo-paul-budnitz/