It’s been dubbed the ‘ad-free social network’, the ‘anti-Facebook’ and even the ‘Facebook Killer’; this week saw Ello come into the public domain. The social networking site has an ‘anti-advertising manifesto’ which has been whipping the internet up into a frenzy.
What makes Ello interesting in the saturated world of social media is what Facebook and Spotify had at their humble beginnings; you have to be invited to use it. Nothing is more valuable than exclusivity (We’re sure Jesse Eisenberg says something similar in ‘The Social Network’). Ello has picked up such acceleration in the past few days that invitations are even being sold on eBay. Invitations are not only a good way to build hype, but also to manage it. As a startup, it’s unlikely that Ello could handle the huge influx of wannabe users without some sort of queue in place, and it also gives the fledgling site an opportunity to improve on its reportedly clunky UX design.
But, as advertising is the only source of income for most social networks, how can Ello be a success without it? A subscription fee is yet to work on any social network and investors always want to see a return, leading to questions about how truly independent Ello can be with commitments to profit.
Ello comes as Facebook unleashes Atlas, its tool for marketers to collect user data and target ads across multiple devices. For many, an ad-free social network looks to be a happy alternative to Zuckerberg’s giant money-making scheme. We have high hopes for Ello, but with existing competition in mind, will it feel like queueing for hours to get into a nightclub to find no one dancing, none of your mates made it in and the music is terrible?