Ello is being billed as the ad-free Facebook, but cynicism abounds online.

Many have highlighted how social networks have reneged on their philosophies in the past (in the eyes of their users) and Ello's terms and conditions don't exactly rule out ads.

I'm not sure yet what I think about Ello (I'm waiting for my invite request to be approved) and I realise the headline of this blog is like one of those spicily titled but ultimately bland editorials in marketing publications. 

However, I thought I'd do a little run down of what Ello is, its USPs and where other social networks have held the same ground and ultimately decamped from it.

Why is Ello getting so much attention?

30,000 requests to join every hour

At time of writing, according to the founders.

Rhetoric

Its manifesto bristles with selfrighteousness - but it's successfully struck a chord wtih many. And Ello talks up its manifesto from its homepage and within its emails.

Here's a snippet: 

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Read the rest here.

Terms

It's also got some interesting terms, highlighted in the tweet below.

Design

It has the same chops as Medium and other beautifully simple publishers. The typography is crisp and a little retro. Images are allowed to expand, too.

ello profile

Edginess and acceptance

Things like the Ello 'about' page being titled 'WTF' mark the network as unafraid to be bold.

Incidently there's also a @WTF account on Ello which exists to maintain Ello's policies. The network has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abuse behavious and this is one thing that has helped to gain publicity recently.

Facebook briefly tried to clamp down on accounts using fake names and had to do a partial u-turn when some drag queens and people who can't use their real name without fearing for their safety rightly kicked off.

Ello's WTF 'about' page

ello wtf

Haven't we been here before?

Whilst networks have rarely talked so explicitly of a commitment to staying ad free, Tumblr is perhaps the best example of a network that was successful and ad-free then sold to Yahoo and began selling ads.

There are of course some open source social networks out there, from Diaspora to Movim.

The reason for scepticism, though, is that the history of the web is littered with acquisitions and the sense that success in gaining users predicates 'monetisation'. It's simply too tasty a carrot to hang back from.

So, how does Ello intend to make money?

Paid features and donations. See this list for planned features, though I'm not sure which will be paid.

With many successful websites running off donations, Wikipedia to name the most obvious

Will Ello take off?

At the moment it doesn't have a mobile app, which is now the primary way to engage in social networking.

I also have doubts about how attractive the network is to younger users. The fact is that a strongly defined feature seems to be the way to get a younger audience, perhaps with an emphasis on imagery, too (think Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp).

I can't see a no ads experience being that vital to younger audiences. Surveys constantly show that privacy isn't as important to them.

However, I do think there's room for a social network where everything is above board when it comes to content surfaceability (I think I've made that word up) and commercial considerations don't impact on the UX. I also think it helps if that network is beautifully designed as increasingly users are demanding this.

Maybe Ello will be that network and we'll all support it.

Ben Davis

Published 2 October, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

Addendum: Christopher Ratcliff pointed me to this piece about VC funding in which the author certainly holds the view that profitability is predicated, through ads, selling data, or maybe just productisation (which is perhaps ok but more difficult?).

https://aralbalkan.com/notes/ello-goodbye/

almost 4 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

After a week on it, I feel like it's Tumblr for grownups.

Happy to send an invite - tell Moth to email me.

almost 4 years ago

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Ted Richardson

I should have stopped reading when the author wrote....I'm waiting for my invite to be approved. What next econsultancy? Are you going to start reviewing meals at restaurants just by looking at the menu and looking in through the window? And base your views on utterances as people leave the door.

This stuff is journalism at its best. NOT.

If banality like this is more of what we are to expect... Please bring back phone hacking.

TR

almost 4 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

Yeah, but I'm not sure using the site will really help in Ello's case - yet.

It's hard to discover users or content besides searching for people's names at the moment - and most people (myself included) are really only posting to test it out. So it's not social like Facebook or content-rich like Twitter.

There are, however, lots of photos with the logo superimposed over people's heads though. Kinda funny.

Anyway, I look forward to the next Econsultancy update when there is more user/content discovery available.

https://ello.co/therealjeff

almost 4 years ago

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Tom Booker

Ello has caught my eye too. I quite like it's retro/minimalist look. I also like its morals.

I have my concerns too of course, but I also like to believe in the best of people until I'm proven wrong.

In the queue waiting for my invite - hopefully it won't take long.

almost 4 years ago

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Ted Richardson

@jeff fair point I respect your feedback as you have actually used the product in question. And have some base upon which you make your comments. UNLIKE the author.

almost 4 years ago

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee, Web Analytics Manager at Evans Cycles

I believe that the terms (where it highlights that it may bring on affiliated companies) potentially severely undermines the main selling point to this network, especially given that it's their USP.

almost 4 years ago

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Marketing Bees

I don't think it will be ad-free forever. Sure "ad-free network" will be something that will get them a lot of users but in my opinion, that will change after several months/years.

almost 4 years ago

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Gary Harbinger

Mmm, there's nothing baked into this that separates it from Facebook, Twitter et al. It's not a got any Diaspora style preventative measures in its architecture. It's just some Herberts setting up a new privately hosted service and saying, "trust us."

And their FAQs on this are wildly disingenuous, "If you ever don't like the direction Ello is heading, we invite you to delete your Ello account." Because if only you could delete a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. etc. account, they would have never had adverts...?

almost 4 years ago

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Suds SIngh

Anything which challenges the status quo of the facebook/ twitter hegemony we are enjoying should have the oxygen of publicity.

almost 4 years ago

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Serena

I am salightly disappointed by Ello so far. Before even getting an invitation, I was already a tad wary about the VC backing and the dubious user privacy ("we will not sell your data until we're big enough to have someone who wants them" pretty much), but then I am no idealist.
After actually getting in, not managing to create a profile with non-tilted pictures or posting anything else than text without having to look for the "help" section...(there is no help section of course, that would be too banal and uncool), I almost gave up.
My thoughts on Ello here http://unexpectedlysocial.com/uncategorized/what-you-need-to-know-about-ello/

almost 4 years ago

David S. Tradewell

David S. Tradewell, Senior Vice President, Americas at Econsultancy

Well @Ted you certainly seem to have a strong opinion. Tell me, seeing as you are clearly one of the Digerati, what do you think of the platform? (I'm assuming that you got your invite very early on)

almost 4 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Editor at EconsultancyStaff

@Ted and others

I didn't really intend to 'review' the platform. This is just a post to get everyone's juices flowing.

The comments are good reading so thanks for contributing.

almost 4 years ago

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