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Ello Future: How the site is challenging the social paradigm


By Steve Cater, communications partner

October 3, 2014 | 5 min read

This week it’s been hard to avoid the coverage on Ello, the new social network offering a different way – one that works in partnership with it’s users to offer a better, more valued network that doesn’t treat users as the product. Zero ads.

Ello, Facebook

Ello are challenging the very future of the net at a very critical time in its history. The net, is now in it’s third state according to popular opinion: social, doesn’t have a defined future. It’s what we want to make of it. During each state of it’s maturity there have been innovators, people and businesses that have invested time, knowledge and money to challenge the state and have lended their efforts to make the net what it is today. So what’s next?

Despite the headlines (*ahem*, Wired) Ello is not a “Facebook killer”.

The ideologists are never shy of advocating anarchy, but their energy will take a while to fuel change and help make the new normal, normal. For the rest of the Internet population change is far gentler, one that takes great time and persuasion. A greater effort will be required to move the masses, especially those who will raise arms for the old guard.

If we take the Ello path, we will truly be into the fourth state of the net: Self. No doubt there will be other options. However, the longer we stay in state three, the harder change will be. State four is where we use social to regain control of our own identity. Commentary on net-privacy litter the media. This amplified by the state of our social climate, where fear is at an all time high, has created the perfect incubator for change. These two factors are evident in the manifesto of Ello:

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data.

Fear and privacy.

Whilst this is all very exciting and people are genuinely excited about not being advertised at (wouldn’t that be utopia?), there doesn’t need to be one winner here. Ello Creator Paul Budnitz says:

We are not trying to compete with Facebook. We see Facebook as an advertising platform. We see Ello as a social network.

In his moment to shine, Budnitz illustrates in one sentence why users should leave. But hey, he’s not trying to compete. This frustration with how things are is nothing new and every so on we look to new salvation. One that works in partnership with the user. Pinterest. Instagram. Snapchat. All things that once we wished would challenge the state of the social net (or at least move it on), continue to see the user as the product.

It’s already a year since writing about how social had become stagnant.

Mainstream social networks are aging. That’s not just because mainstream social networks have been pillaged by advertisers but also because what was once a very fun and personal space is being questioned by many users, especially those in their younger years. Once personal streams from friends, family, colleagues and those who interested us has become boring. Users are getting bored. Bored of the mainstream experience. Bored of being sold to. Bored of the paradigm that is popular social.

This is even more pertinent today. Boredom, in today’s world, is just not on people.

BUT… how does Ello work? Does it need to work?

It faces some real challenges if it’s going to maintain growth. I hope it’s brave investors stick around for the journey.

From a marketing point of view, intelligent marketers and forward thinking brands will welcome the change. Communities win. Creativity wins. Brands are forced to build and properly engage in meaningful communities not buy their unwanted time. Those that don’t or can’t, won’t succeed in the fourth net state. We have the control of us. It’s our media.

I’m very excited to see how Ello gets on. The user experience really works for me and many I’ve spoken to agree. There is a lot more to come. But more importantly, control of our content, our privacy and our newsfeed is an advancement for the user. That’s real value and a real reason for change. So I encourage you all who haven’t yet joined. Get an invite and say ello.

Steve Cater

Head of Digital at whynot!


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