Is Ello the Next Big Thing?

Every now and then, a new social network springs up and social media professionals hold their breath, wondering: Will this be yet another social network I need to figure out? Earlier this year, it was Jelly, a social network that allows users to ask questions using photos. And now, there’s Ello.

What the ‘Ell is Ello?

Ello was originally built to be a private social network for a group of artists and programmers. The thing is, people were intrigued by Ello and wanted to join, so the founders decided to create a public version. What makes Ello different than other social networks?

They toute themselves as “simple, beautiful & ad-free.”

The site is, indeed, simple. A far cry from the flashy, colorful websites we’re used to, Ello uses, a clean design with a basic color palette and a font that is reminiscent of a typewriter. Here’s an example of a user’s page.

Ello Profile

The clean, simple layout ironically makes Ello stand out on the crowded, noisy web.

Oh, and did I mention there are no ads? That’s a biggie for Ello. They doesn’t sell advertising on their site and they promise not to sell data to third parties like other social networks do.

So, is Ello the next big thing?

Time will tell, but personally, I don’t think so. Ello promises to be a place for folks to go to connect with friends without being bombarded with ads or worried that their information and social media activities will be converted to data and sold to advertisers. But the thing is, I don’t think the typical consumer thinks about these things.

Let’s start with ads. Consumers come across hundreds of ads each day, and I think they’re skilled at ignoring what they’re not interested in. Frankly, I don’t think the ads on social media take away from the experience of connecting with your friends (I might be biased because I’m a marketer). It’s not like your Facebook newsfeed is filled with ads. And finally, I think the key players (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) do a good job of making it easy for users to identify ads for what they are.

And as far as folks worrying about their information and activities being monitored and sold? Let’s be honest. People voluntarily put their lives on the internet. Do a quick Google search for someone and you can probably find out what bars they checked into on Foursquare last weekend, where they work, what music they’re listening to on Pandora and more. Again, I know I’m biased because I’m a marketer, but I think it’s a good thing if advertisers are using my information to deliver personalized offers to me. After I announced I was engaged on Facebook, I saw more ads for wedding services and products. Makes sense, right? I’d prefer that to being blanketed with generic advertising that’s completely irrelevant to me.

Ello definitely has some appealing qualities, especially for folks concerned about advertising and privacy. But I don’t anticipate people leaving the traditional social media networks in droves in favor of Ello. Rather than becoming the next Facebook or Twitter, I think Ello will continue to appeal to a niche market. What are your thoughts on Ello? I’d love to hear!

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