You’ve almost certainly been said ‘Ello’ to in the past few days. It’s the new social network that prides itself on being ad free. As a matter of fact, it comes with the shareable manifesto that ‘you are not a product.’ The layout is so simplistic and ‘clean’ that it makes Facebook look overdone. The logo is simply a smiley face, and they’ve even managed to make that look minimalistic.
‘Sounds great, sign me up!’ Not so fast, Ello have been inundated with thousands of sign ups on an invite only system, averaging almost 40,000 requests an hour. If you want to get in on the action, you’re going to have to beg someone for an invite code, or even bid for one on Ebay. Is it just a fad that we’ll inevitably forget about in a week before returning with our tail between our legs to Facebook, or is it going to change the way we use social networks completely? The Igloo team decided to throw in their two cents:
Hannah – Graphic Design Intern
Another social network?
When does anyone have the time anymore to be updating and checking all of these many networks? From a designer’s point of view it is becoming exhausting having to update every social media platform in order to stay in the loop and keep networking. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Behance, Flickr, Linkedin, Vimeo, Youtube, Google Plus and now Ello?
Agreed, being add free is a massive plus, however Facebook and Twitter started off being limited to a certain group, blogs come with themes which you can make as minimalist as you like, so does Ello really have anything new to bring to the table?
James – Partner:
Social networking sites are more about traction than features – they succeed only if they can gain enough momentum, people have to feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t sign up. I’d love to think that an ad free network that doesn’t sell your data could work, but realistically I don’t think it’s possible. Ello will be very popular with the bearded gentry, but the masses are happy with what they’ve got.
Thoughts with my technical hat on: Hosting data is expensive! By selling our data, Google and facebook have made hosting seem cheap, but it’s not. The people who pay for Ello’s advanced features will be subsidising the majority of users and so expect some surprisingly big charges if this is to succeed.
Also, don’t get too comfortable… Maybe Ello wont sell your data, but who else will? Google’s already got an index of 37’000 Ello profiles. I’ve just done some research – users are 60% male, 40% female, that information’s undoubtedly worth something and there’s plenty more I could harvest for the right price…
Ben – Senior Graphic Designer
Here’s my quick two pence:
As much as Facebook makes me angry on a daily basis, this is usually the cause of baby photos and mindless updates rather than targeted advertising. My data being captured in general doesn’t bother me and I don’t believe there is an evil agenda for the majority. I think once the hype for Ello has run its course and they require massive funding to stay running you will see how fickle people are, especially when being asked to part with cash.
Olly – Partner:
We’ve seen a lot of new social networks fail to challenge Facebook. There was Google’s Buzz that turned out to be more of a Fizzle, MySpace, Bebo. Interestingly Google+ launched off the back of privacy complaints about Facebook, but it turns out when everyone limits what anyone can see, there’s nothing to see… Then there’s the new kids on the block: Path and Diaspora based around other complaints about Facebook.
Like it or lump it though, Ello has managed to get more excitement than most social networks have managed, and it seems to be getting a bit of traction. So two questions leap to mind:
Is it any good? Well currently it doesn’t work well since it is still in development, and it looks very on trend and hipster, which will age fast. Presuming they’ll fix the functionality if enough money is thrown at it, I think the hipster look is helping it at launch but could be its downfall if it can manage to become popular. A social network is ultimately a tool, and the design wants to be transparent to showcase the content. This might soon become the network for idiotic trend followers, you know the sort, who buy shabby chic from Prada and only drink free-range vegan wine.
So the second question is can it fund itself? It’s all very good and well saying we won’t use advertising, but can it work? Let’s remember that most social sites don’t make money for many years, this is based on the fact that with a big enough user base they can eventually make money (from advertising) or they can be sold to one of the giants for the same price as buying Luxembourg. Will large numbers of people buy features? I’m not sure they will. Ultimately I think people will prefer a free social network with advertising than one they have to pay for.
Perhaps Ello will be the wealthy thinking-person’s Facebook, but as is shown with Google+, all a social network really is is a userbase, ubiquity is everything, and I’m not sure Ello’s payments will stick. Perhaps they’ll just gain traction and then start advertising anyway, just in a different (read: the same) way. Now there’s an idea…
Bel – Copy and Digital Marketing:
I’m ever so slightly suspicious of an online company whose main ploy is lack of advertising, that in itself seems to be its marketing gimmick, which is an uncomfortable standpoint. It’s always the same formula with these businesses, Californian guys in flip flops who think they’re really sticking it to the man with their Macbooks and rebellious ideas, it’s enough to make you raise a cynical eyebrow.
There’s got to be a catch, surely? Well, apparently Ello are hoping to bring in paid features, so maybe that’s it. That said, the layout of Ello profiles reminds me more of Tumblr than Facebook, and I like how it seems to combine elements of both twitter and a blog. I think it could be especially beneficial to online businesses and creatives who want to get their work out there on a social platform rather than having it tucked away on a specialist site. The minimalist layout makes it an artist’s dream!
I also think the invite only feature is particularly clever as an initial marketing tool. With people selling invite codes for around a tenner on facebook and immense waiting lists, everyone is scrambling to get themselves signed up to the site. I’ve already signed Igloo and myself up just in case it really takes off. What can I say? I’m gullible.
Will you be saying ello Ello or Ello goodbye?