New social media platform Ello might be creating buzz online but Kamber’s Adam Vincenzini isn’t shutting down his Facebook profile just yet.
Every few weeks, like clockwork, a new social media platform explodes onto the scene surrounded by intense hype.
This hype is usually instigated by so-called social media influencers who are hell bent on being seen as early adopters.
As you can tell, I’m already a tad cynical of Ello, the latest ‘disruptive’ social media darling which is very proactively positioning itself as the anti-Facebook.
Before I share the reasons behind my cynicism, let’s quickly wrap our collective heads around what makes Ello different as a platform.
What is Ello and why is it different?
Ello describes itself as “a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers”.
According to its manifesto, Ello is being opened up to the broader public (initially by invitation only) due to user demand.
Its key points of difference, especially in relation to Facebook, include being free of ads, not collecting personal data and making privacy a central operational pillar.
While it calls itself a free platform, it isn’t necessarily the case. Users will be offered the opportunity to buy premium features at selected times to fund platform development.
Is being ad-free and ‘for the people’ enough to attract and keep an active audience? History says no.
Four reasons why Ello faces an uphill battle
- The ‘anti-Facebook’ network has been tried before without any meaningful impact. In 2011 a social network that also positioned itself as anti-Facebook, called Diaspora, generated a similar level of hype upon launch. More than three years later it has 1.2 million total users, but only 54,000 of those are active each month. Not earth-shattering by anyone’s calculations.
- People want to be active in places their friends, family and colleagues are. Google+ is a very good example of a social platform that provides people with an ad-free environment but hasn’t turned that into an active user base. While it has had some cut through with specific niche audiences, the mainstream user hasn’t been as enthusiastic about it.
- There is only so much time to spend ‘being social’. Do people really have time in their lives to be active in yet another social media eco-system? On average, Aussies check their Facebook page 30 times per week which is already a huge investment of time. For Ello to have a discernible impact, it probably needs to usurp Facebook as a network or hope that our hunger for social media interaction doubles. In my opinion, both events are very unlikely to occur.
- Interests, not social interactions, are the secrets behind recent social media network success stories. Pinterest and Instagram are the two best examples of new(er) platforms that have achieved cut through but user interests, including fashion, food and fitness have driven that success, not necessarily the social element. Ello was originally a place where artists and designers could connect, not simply to escape ads. If Ello does have a shot at being a legitimate player, being a destination for some additional interest-based communities is a lot more achievable.
These are just some of the reasons Ello isn’t realistically a challenger to Facebook, although positioning itself in that manner is a clever strategy.
For the time being it is worth keeping an eye on Ello, but in a day and age when shiny new online toys get hot overnight, they tend to go cold just as quickly…just ask Diaspora.