In this episode of Here’s Why, Mark and Eric dive head first into the world of Ello. They discuss the reasons behind Ello’s recent surge in popularity, who created it and why, and what the future holds for the burgeoning social network. If you haven’t read it already, definitely check out Mark’s incredibly in-depth guide: Ello: The Complete Guide to the Ad Free Social Network.
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Eric: Hi I’m Eric Enge of Perficient Digital and with me today is…
Mark: Mark Traphagen.
Eric: So Mark, I’ve been hearing about this new network it’s called Ello, what the Ello is Ello?
Mark: Well, Ello is a brand new social network that probably most people have at least heard about by now. It broke into the news because there was a controversy on Facebook that caused a certain community on Facebook to want to look for a new place to go. They wanted a place they felt was more secure and private, that wasn’t using them as an advertising medium or gimmick and they found Ello.
Ello was just a little network out there, sitting around for 5 months and only a very small community was using it. They adopted it, but that became a news item and it blew up, and all of a sudden everybody wanted to be on Ello. They being a beta, a startup, they had limited invites, so scarcity then breeds popularity and demand. And people were selling invites on eBay, the same thing had happened in the early days of Google+.
It kind of blew up, but what is it? Very simply it’s a social network where you can do the same kind of things you do on lots of other social networks. You can share texts messages, you can share images, not yet embedded videos, they say they’re working on that. And you follow people and they follow you and that’s pretty much what it is?
Eric: So what makes it different from other social networks?
Mark: Well, the main difference is interestingly enough, not its presentation, which a lot of people think isn’t very good right now. It lacks a lot of the features you would expect to see in a social network. Its main differentiation point is its message, which is interesting, it’s positioning. It was created by a group of smart creative people. A group of designers and coders, artists mostly from around the Denver, Colorado area. Who, just as I said earlier, got fed up with Facebook, in particular, using them as a product rather than as respected users.
Meaning you get advertising thrown at you constantly, even in your stream. And also that you are used as an advertising data point and your data is made available to potential advertisers who can use it market to you. They wanted a network that was free from that. So the main value points they put out is one: we will never have advertising on the platform. And two: we will never sell your data to anyone else. The whole thing is really based off of that, it seems like it’s trying to attract people who are just looking for an alternative where they aren’t a marketing target.
Eric: And if I have it right, I think the plan to monetize Ello is based on upselling services to users rather than selling ads. So, it’s not a social media site without a way to monetize, it’s just a different way.
Mark: Right. It’s a freemium model as many people call it. Many apps do this where you can use the app for free and it always will be free, but if you want to do certain premium things or you want to have certain privileges. Think of LinkedIn, LinkedIn has a premium service where anybody can use LinkedIn for free, but if you pay the premium then you get more access to who viewed your profile, you can send messages to other users even if they’re not following you, certain extra services.
Eric: So here’s the big question: Is this thing going to succeed?
Mark: Ok so I have to put on my prognosticators’ hat here. The easy answer is who knows. Of course, people say that about anything that comes out. But if I had to say are they going to succeed, I think they will. But let’s back up for a moment and say what is success? Is success becoming the next Facebook? I don’t think the creators of this have any illusions that they’re going to become the next Facebook, nor do I really think that’s their ambition.
I think that they are positioning themselves as a niche network, we’re a network for a certain people and if we attract enough of those certain people to pay our bills, then we’re a success. So that’s really the question to me, especially now, since it seems to me that their appeal, is to for lack of a better word, a counter-cultural type person. A person who wants to be outside of that normal box of big businesses running everything and advertising and marketing and all this and just wants a place where they can interact with other creative people.
If they can keep those people or keep that message, then I think that they’ll succeed to the level that they need to or want to. What concerns me for them now is that with the blow up that happened, not by their design, and all the people that are coming in now, a great many of those people coming in are not people who care about that. They’re just like “Oh another social network, I should check it out!” And as soon as those people start thinking: what can I really do here that’s different than what I’m already doing on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter? Not that much, you know, they might eventually fade away. The bottom line question for them is: Will they retain enough of the people that they’re really after to be enough successful to keep going?
Eric: Right. And then I think the last question really is: What’s the opportunity for marketers then?
Mark: The opportunity for marketers is to totally destroy Ello and make it a miserable place for everybody else to be.
Eric: That’s a very interesting message, should we cut off the video here now then or..?
Mark: I just said that so that the Ello creators won’t delete my account. No, I think, one of the interesting things actually Eric, is that while they have this anti-advertising stance, the Ello founders have said we welcome brands and companies to come on Ello. You can have a brand page, you can use it, knock yourself out. You can even sell things on it if you think that will work here. The more important thing for marketers to consider is the culture of the network. And I see it as potentially, again if they succeed in keeping with, what I think is their target market, I see it potentially being sort of Reddit-like.
We all know on Reddit that you can market on Reddit, but you’ve got to do it very, very carefully. Redditors don’t like promoters, they don’t like marketers. And if they sniff out that that’s what you’re there for, they’ll kill you. So I think you’re going to have to approach Ello as a place where you build, you create great content that that market’s going to want, that you engage as real people, and that you add value that that market will appeal to and you build may be an overall brand presence, but you’re not going to go in there to sell, I think, directly.
Eric: Right. So like other platforms, but maybe even more so it has to all be about adding value to the community. And if you can do that as a marketer, you can get exposure to other people, build your reputation, get visibility, get new connections may be with different sets of people than you do on those other networks.
Mark: Right. And I think that will be the challenge. And some people will probably succeed at it and it will be interesting to watch what they do.
Eric: Excellent. Well that’s it for this episode of Here’s Why.
I am liking it…It is better as a user to buy up-selling products rather getting flooded with ads. I should say Hello to Ello !!!!!!!!!