As a publisher, it’s now part of your job to know about the latest social media networks. That doesn’t mean you need to join them all, but it does mean that new social platforms can help us find context and perspective for our content strategy. Ello just might be the latest thought-provoker in this realm.
Ello is an invite only, pro-privacy network with a manifesto that says they will never have ads or sell user data. It recently gained notoriety when drag queens began fleeing Facebook to Ello, so that they could use their stage names—something that Facebook wouldn’t allow them. Before long, there were more than 1 million people on the waiting list to join Ello.
That’s notable, but we know, all too well, that it doesn’t translate to long-term success, and in fact, it’s just too soon to tell. What we do know is that the network has raised nearly half a million in venture capital and that it promises new features that users will be able to purchase (or not). We know that it’s easy for users to delete their account the minute they are dissatisfied and they can also opt out of providing information exclusively for Ello’s use in development. We also know that it’s a bit cumbersome and dysfunctional—a social network in infant stages.
But with all the hype around it, one thing is clear: people like the idea of a fresh start. Ello provides us a chance to start from scratch and reinvent our virtual, social selves. It also gives us a chance to see how a different model may or may not work.
And, perhaps that’s where we need to look for the lesson. It’s true that enhanced privacy has never been a notion to take hold with a mass audience, but people keep trying and maybe there is a worthwhile message there:
Advertising isn’t the only way—and it needs to be done well.
When we look at using social networks, it’s valuable to look at how they are using advertising and whom they are really serving. Blasting readers with ads has proven futile in many instances, but serving up relevant ads that translate to authentic leads is another story. Ello lends important commentary to how ad models are evolving. Advertising is more about targeting and contextual content than it ever was—and that’s a good thing, because it serves readers more appropriately and helps advertisers. It can be a win-win—not a bunch of noise.
So, the answer is, it’s Ello to a fresh, evolving perspective and goodbye to stale ad models that don’t serve the reader.