What would it look like if Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter had a baby? Ello.
In a world where we already have Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vine, (and on and on) why would the world need another social network? Turns out, there are some very good reasons.
This is where Ello comes in.
Let’s look at ten ways Ello isn’t like other networks, and then we’ll look at what it is based on its own merits.
The founders of Ello have committed to never selling your information to anyone else, and never implementing ads on their site. This is in stark contrast to every other platform out there that tries to mine every bit of information out of its users as it can.
The creators of Ello promise to never track your activity. Companies like Facebook go way beyond the bounds of their own site when tracking users. Facebook follows you everywhere you go online so they know what kinds of ads you might be interested in seeing when you come back to their site. That’s incredibly invasive, and why the founders of Ello promise they will never engage in that kind of invasive behavior.
With targeted ads and sponsored posts, a user is presented with information that they’re not actively choosing to see. Ello, in contrast, promises never to inject posts or ads that you didn’t choose to view. This gives control back to the users, where it should be.
Another way those user metrics are leveraged on other sites is trying to guess what their friends want to see most, so they use complicated equations to figure out what would be popular, and then make that post the one that’s seen the most.
Other posts are not included in the general feed which creates a situation where the voice of the user is dictated by the whim of an algorithm. Ello has a fundamental problem with this, so they’ve promised to include everything in the feed. All of what you post is what your followers see.
Some networks take ownership of the post and pictures you choose to upload onto their servers. That means they could potentially use your selfie on a national ad campaign and you don’t get paid because they own the image. Not you.
Ello does things differently. They want the users to maintain ownership of what they post, so they make sure the users retain the rights over their own content.
Most online bullies thrive by maintaining secrecy. They hide behind the mask of anonymity, and use that to engage in behavior without repercussion. In order to combat this, most platforms have instituted a no fake names policy.
The problem with this, however, is the number of bullies is vastly outnumbered by the people who have legitimate interest in not exposing their true identity.
Imagine you’re living in a country where being gay means you stand the very real threat of being beaten and/or killed just for being who you are. That’s why Ello believes you have the right to disclose only the information you feel comfortable or safe sharing. You’re not compelled to share your real name, sex, sexual orientation, or any other information that could be used against you.
One of the strongest sales tactics is social proof. If my best friend CJ buys something, and tells me how much he loves it, I’ll be more inclined to buy the same thing when I’m in the market for whatever it is.
Knowing this, other platforms will leverage your network of friends to sell things.
Ello feels like this is a violation of trust, so they’re never going to do it.
How do other platforms get away with such invasive techniques and practices? They hide behind complicated language in their terms and conditions.
That’s why Ello focuses on using very simple language, and commit to being transparent about their intent.
Good luck getting access to all that information collected about you on other platforms. This secret stash of intel is a threat to your privacy.
Ello lets you download all your information quickly and easily.
Facebook won’t let you permanently delete your account. You can temporarily deactivate your account, which they say is just in case you ever come back you can quickly get started again.
Ello believes you have the right to leave any network easily and permanently. Deleting your account is complete and final on Ello.
So what is it?
We could talk all day about what Ello isn’t, but that doesn’t do much to tell you what it is.
Ello is committed to being a beautiful and uncluttered platform for people to share text, music, photos, or any other content without restriction.
It was created by a group of artists who were tired of the negativity, data mining, and ads of the other platforms.
Their fundamental principle of operation is to keep control in the hands of the users. You control what you see, what you say, and what you do with your content.
The aesthetic of the site is clean with a responsive layout. There’s a lot of good thinking in their user interface, and there’s a lot to love about it.
For example: your feed is divided into two parts. Friends and Noise.
The Friends feed is intended for people you really care about and want to experience their content in a single full screen feed.
The Noise feed is where everyone else goes. It’s a responsive three column feed so you can quickly navigate lot of content. Click on anything you want to take a closer look at, and it’ll pop up to full screen.
Plus, there are a lot of features in development, and a lot of stuff has been implemented based on user feedback like the inclusion of emojis.
This is one of the ways Ello plans on making money. In the future they may charge one or two dollars for extended functionality while keeping the basics completely free for everyone. This seems to be a model that’s working well for mobile gaming, and just might work for the social platform, too.
Unlike Google+ which people think there’s no one there despite an incredibly robust community, there’s actually not a lot going on at Ello.
This might be due to a couple reasons.
When they first launched in March 2014, it was in extreme beta. Potential users resonated with the idea of not being treated like a commodity, and users flocked in by the thousands. Once inside, however, the site lacked a lot of the features and functionality that had become industry standards.
So many people, myself included, signed up, looked around, and thought, “I’ll come back later,” and a year goes by.
Also, the lack of an app seriously cuts into their viability. Most people function online via their smartphones, and are spending less and less time on actual computers. Without mobile functionality, Ello was shooting themselves in the foot.
Another issue is over saturation. With so many options out there, people are already overwhelmed with keeping up with their 7 online personas. This is why cross-platform posting services like HootSuite are so popular. They save time and effort, and Ello might do well to move in the direction of integrating that kind of functionality.
Sadly, I think one of the biggest drawbacks to Ello’s growth is one of the saddest.
People just don’t care about being treated like a commodity. Being tracked and followed makes life convenient. They like those context-based suggestions and metrics-based functionality.
This means Ello’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness.
For anyone interested in maintaining control and integrity of their online presence, Ello might be the place for you.