Ello Social Network: 3 Questions for Paul Budnitz

Social Media Best Practices

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.40.34 PM

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.).

Photo Courtesy of: AdvertisingAge

Photo Courtesy of: AdvertisingAge

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?

Promoting their Ello page on Facebook? The irony.

Promoting their Ello page on Facebook? The irony.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 3.11.47 PM2.  How is this any different from early Facebook when “ads” were just the pages themselves?

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!

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 3.04.03 PM

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?

Photo Courtesy of: mediabistro.com

Photo Courtesy of: mediabistro.com

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.

Ello-012.  Don’t waste your marketing budget on having someone post to your Ello page.

At this time, it’s just not worth it. Unless…

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/

Manpreet Kalra

Manpreet Kalra is a Digital Marketing Superhero at Rival IQ. Her superpowers span the digital universe - she can often be seen doing 50 things at once while posting a 140-character Tweet about it. Originally from Silicon Valley, her startup journey began in 2008 while working for Togetherville, which was later acquired by the Walt Disney Company. She went on to work as a portfolio Marketing Advisor at Stockford Limited, a UK-based VC firm. Manpreet is also the Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Kaurista, a niche online lifestyle magazine for South Asian women. While she does love superhero capes, Manpreet is more typically seen wearing her raincoat, hiking boots or fleece, all appropriate hero attire for her new home of Seattle.

Ready to start analyzing?

Start measuring the impact of your social media campaigns with our 14-day free trial.

Start Your Free Trial