With Facebook traveling further down the path of enforcing real names and identities, and their increasing appetite to sell more and more of your personal information, startups are attempting to replicate the success of the top social networks, while promising more anonymity. Ello is the latest Social Network to enter the scene, promising a simple clean interface, and no ads – which means no selling personal information. While this has been their primary talking point, it seems a bit disingenuous. Ello recently received a round of funding from investors, and unless this is an incredibly non-traditional investor relationship, they will be forced to monetize at some point. That being said, a social network is only as valuable the relationships and conversations happening there. Here are our first thoughts on what Ello is, and what we think about its future.
We asked our network of super-influencers what they thought about Ello. The general consensus is summed up by Kristy Still, “I don’t want yet another social network.” It seems that for people who enjoy participating in Social Media, and especially those who are leaders in it, there is a level of Social Fatigue happening. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram – just to name a few networks, are all places people feel compelled to post. If you do any video, add Vine and Youtube. It can be a full-time job just to share your content everywhere an audience could be.
Others found the simple interface refreshing, but a general feeling of confusion prevailed, with most wondering what to do with it, and what use-case it fit in. “I for one just don’t get it. What kind of platform is it? More like Twitter (microblogging) or more like Facebook with updates and photos and such? My thought is, why would I seek an invite for something that they can’t even clearly tell me what it is?” commented Jamie Smith. Most of social media mavens we spoke with were simply there to make sure they claimed their user name, but saw no utility in the platform yet.
One interesting thread I noticed is that no one mentioned that they cared at all about Ello’s main selling point – no selling user information. On Facebook, you and your personal information is the product being sold. Ello was created specifically as the antithesis to that. From the people we spoke with, it seems no one actually cares.
My take: Ello is interesting – but only because of the simple, clean, ad-free approach, and the highly over-represented Digerati presence. Ello is not the thing that’s going to turn Facebook into the next Friendster. But its concept, and the fervor with which people are adopting it, shows us that SOMETHING is going to be that thing. I give it a pass for now, unless you really like seeing photos of Robert Scoble’s kids, and would enjoy participating in lots of conversations with social media professionals comparing Ello to Facebook and Google+.