If you’ve scrolled through your Newsfeed or happened to stumble over to Mashable, you’ve definitely heard of the latest social network – Ello. It’s everywhere! Ello brands themselves as an Ad Free, Invitation Only (for now) Social Network. Reports have shown that there are join requests from 4k to 34k per hour – meaning that people are itching to join, or at least curious as to what this is all about. With the launch of any new social network, you (being marketing savvy) are probably wondering just how you can tap in to this. With no ads, Ello has turned to an “Offer” style system. We’ll see where they turn up with that whole model, though.
Intro to Ello
The exclusivity of the invite only social network is nothing new. Google + started their beta and kept the goods veiled behind the glamorous velvet sheet. When the product was revealed to the masses, that is when the critics jumped out of the woodwork. Ello is following a similar model, requiring you to request an invite (with reports saying there is a queue of over 1M people) or get an invite from a friend. Once you’ve secured your Golden Ticket in to Ello, you receive 5 invites to give away (or in some cases, sell) to anyone. According to their manifesto, Ello believes in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. Though they’re taking the media by storm, I fear that they may take their manifesto to the next level and embrace that “transparency” component a bit too much. Don’t you dare quote me on that in a year when Ello is the next big thing, either.
Ello has built their following off a simple premise – No Ads. Users of social media are growing more and more aware of the advertisements on their accounts (though they don’t seem to care a whole lot – they still work). Ello’s no-ad concept has people flocking to see what it’s all about.
“You're the product that's being bought and sold.” – Ello
In both college and professional experience, I learned that you (or me), indeed, are a product. I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. If companies can make it easier for me to find them and suggest products I like based on my preferences, I am completely fine with that (don’t get me wrong, SPAM ads are lame no matter the context). It seems, however, that others are not. Almost every social network, like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and Instagram, started out ad-free and quickly made the jump to an ad platform. Ello vows that they will never make such a jump because “ad-free” is the whole point of their network. They even remind you that they convenient have a Delete Account, which allows you to very easily remove yourself and your data from the platform.
But How Do I Sell Ads?
There's almost always a way to monetize almost anything. You can slap your logo on a city bus, get your products on TV, or even pay someone to change their name to your companies slogan, but as of now you CAN’T advertise on Ello. They mentioned that the way to monetize the company and keep the network profitable is going to be through “Offers.” They say that these are going to be features that you’ll want to use – Maybe Chat, viewing who sees your profile, who knows? As they collect data, they may find a way to not sell us to Big Brother, but sell us to each other. Online dating sites like OkCupid(A-List) have already figured out how to let people…sell themselves, maybe Ello will be next? Ello hasn’t mentioned if brands will be allowed on their network, or if they will be given any perks, but be sure to keep in mind these “Offers” as soon as brands are allowed into the game.
Premium access can also frustrate users quickly. When it comes down to it, most are willing to put up with advertising in order to keep their access free. In the meantime, we'll be watching the evolution of Ello unfold and sharing our thoughts on how it changes - or doesn't change - the social landscape.