There’s a new social network in town. It’s called Ello. In case you haven’t been on the internet for the past several days, Ello is a social network that declares “You Are Not A Product”. Traditional media is covering it and tech media is buzzing with questions like “could it bring down Facebook?”, “Is it the Facebook killer?”
While Ello does not specifically name any social networking sites, its manifesto implies that they are talking about Facebook. A number of factors have made Ello suddenly rise to fame. Unlike Facebook, Ello is an invite only social network. Unless you know someone who is already a member, you have to submit your email address to the owners and wait for your invitation.
Every new Ello member gets five invites for friends. So if you have a friend who hasn’t already used up their invites, you can convince them to send you one. Another problem with Ello is that you cannot comment or like other people’s posts. Despite all these challenges, people are still clamoring to join the network.
Ello boasts that it does not collect or sell user data. This means that marketers and advertisers are out of luck with this one. The thing is all these social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and the likes make money gathering data from users and selling it to brands.
Brands then take the data and use it to advertise to targeted audience. This way, social network investors remain happy because they are turning a profit, brands reach a greater audience through advertising and users get a free service. Everybody wins.
So the big question is if Ello is not selling data to brands, how will they make a profit? How will investors see a return on their investment? Aral Balkan, a designer and privacy activist says that they have taken out venture capital which means that they have to pay back this money one way or another.
Brands that are looking to secure an invite to Ello should do so with caution. Brands need to first consider whether the time they invest in Ello is truly worth it.
To be fair, advertising on social media and any other platform has always been a fickle strategy. Paying to get in front of your target audience may work but it’s less likely to build brand loyalty. As the name suggests, social networks are there for social networking. Advertising just interrupts this process and invades users’ privacy.
The fact that social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter introduced the “pay to play” approach encouraged advertisers to take a step towards the wrong direction. The right way to increase brand loyalty is to invest more money and time building long term relationships with customers.
Brands that have managed to build brand loyalty on social networks are the ones that genuinely interact with their customers. They engage their audience and invest time into replying to emails, tweets and comments.
In conclusion, if you want to join Ello and grow your brand, then be my guest. But you have to be ready to invest heavily into building relationships with your target audience. There won’t be any paid campaigns to help you get in front of your audience.