The social media world is buzzing with excitement about the new social platform called Ello (currently invite only), which the media have dubbed the Facebook-killer. Yes, Ello is nice to look at thanks to its simplistic design.
Yes, Ello lets you use any name you like, unlike Facebook which demands you use your real name.
Yes, Ello is ad-free and thus does not treat you– in their words – like a “product that is bought and sold.”
But who cares?
Ello claims to get 3,000-4,000 invite requests every hour. Impressive, but even at that pace it would take over 30 years for it to get to the size of Facebook.
Social sites with a simplistic design already exist – just think of Tumblr and Medium.
Ello is also reminiscent of Google+. Lots of people rushed to sign up, liked the design and the features (e.g. Hangout), and then never came back because nobody was using it.
In short: Mark Zuckerberg can still sleep very peacefully at night.
So despite all of this, what can we learn from the fast rise of Ello?
Be the rebel
Ello’s manifesto did a great job of hitting a nerve in a post-Snowden world. Consumer faith in the Internet is at a low; people are fearful that anything they do online will eventually be used to analyze and sell them something. Ello promises a departure from that.
Timing is everything
After Facebook recently suspended the accounts of several gay and transgender entertainers for not using their real names, Ello gained traction quickly, as they don't require a real name for sign up. Sometimes all you have to do to be the next big thing is offer an alternative when many customers become unhappy with a product they’re currently using.
Everything has a price
One needs an invite from a friend to sign up for Ello. Not everyone wants to wait for an invite (and not everyone has social-savvy friends). Thus Ello invites have been sold on eBay for as much as $100.
Now, there’s a concept worth exploring. Perhaps advertising-based social platforms like Facebook or Twitter should give users an option: use the site for free and thereby consent to sharing your data with advertisers, or pay a small monthly fee to access the site in exchange for the right to opt out of sharing your data with advertisers and third parties.
Not sure if Ello is for you?
Try Ood Bye, the anti-Ello social network, which is currently in development.