I dislike Facebook as much as the next girl. I’m tired of a Newsfeed swamped with paid for posts and advertising that annoys me. I’m tired of spending 5 minutes scrolling through brand drivel before finding a single update from a friend, usually one I hardly interact with. I get it.

I don’t get Ello. 

I get the principle. An add free Utopia where we can just be social. The way they all started – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr…. It’s great concept. But at some point the people behind those social networks need to eat and in order to do that they need to make some money. That’s when they start selling advertising and the likes of you and I get mad. These are my thoughts on Ello.

Ello, in case you’re wondering, is a new invite only social network that just popped up. Ello says it is against advertising, against tracking you and selling your data. If you read the manifesto it is almost like they’re trying to sell you on some hippy lifestyle filled with love, friendship and no advertising.


But hold up. Tumblr also swore never to litter your feed with adverts. Remember? Then it got sold to Yahoo and that little promise went out the window. While Ello might be registering close on 4000 user requests per hour, they aren’t going to keep the brands out. No matter what they say. I was able to sign up a Tech Girl profile in a matter of minutes.

A social media logotype collection of well-known social network brands

I’m not Tech Girl. Every writer on this site has access to our social media profiles and they’ll get access to Ello. So what’s to stop us from posting article links and promoting the site? Hell, if you were a smart social media manager (I know, where would we find one?) you’d have taken the FNB RBJacobs model and already signed up some sort of fictitious “human” who would play brand representative on Ello. The beauty of Ello, for smart social media managers (I know), is that it all comes down to clever content. It is ultimately what Facebook was – you’ll be able to engage fans of the brand with clever content rather than those ridiculous “do you even (insert trivial activity here) bro” statements and paid for boosts.

I’m going off topic but the point is marketing whiz kids behind brands will find a way to get to their brands on Ello, if they haven’t already.

But your information isn’t being sold to the evil corporates on Ello, so that makes it better right? For starters – big up for making a whole 6% of adult internet users who care. A 2013 Pew Poll found that 94% of adult internet users had done absolutely nothing to hide their personal data (and thus stop it from getting sold on).

Oh and then there’s this:


And now we’ve come full circle. Those smart folk behind Ello are going to have to eat. At some point they’re going to need money to buy food so they can eat. They’ve been quoted in various publications suggesting they may adopt a Radiohead type model. Radiohead is a really good band, if you’re young and unsure. They released an album online in 2007 (In Rainbows) using a pay what you want model. The idea was you’d pay what ever you thought the album was worth. It meant some people downloaded it for free while others threw major cash at it. It worked well for the band BUT here’s where I think it is flawed for a social network – you’d be expected to pay what you want monthly, because once off payments won’t suffice. Think LinkedIn Pro – other than brands – who pays to be on there? Exactly.



The other option is to offer up premium paid for features within the social network. Again, not sure this is going to take off. You’ve got this tiny percentage wanting to get out of Facebook already, cut that down even more so and you’ve got the group of folk willing to pay for paid for features.

So on paper, Ello seems great, in reality? I can’t see their business model being sustainable at all. The whole Ello jump reminds me of all those people who ran off and downloaded Telegram following the Facebook What’s App buy out. The jumpers have all started using What’s App again because the majority just wasn’t interested in moving. I suspect the same will happen here.


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