Will Ello Be Able to Upset Facebook?
News about the emergence of the social network Ello went viral in the last few weeks. Ello has earned a lot of interest because of its position as an anti-Facebook social network. Will Ello be able to live up to the hype and become a Facebook killer?
In his book The Age of the Platform, Phil Simon tracks the history of Facebook and mentions that Facebook was not the first social network in the market but that it was the first to conquer the mass-market. At the outset Facebook avoided the core mistakes made by its predecessors MySpace and Friendster. Ello seems to be inspired from Facebook's ascent, which has its roots in innovating by chasing what the competitors' users hate.
Generally, hate is considered one of the most distasteful of emotions. It's right up there with anger and disgust. Hate, however, can be a tool for innovation. We only change the things we are motivated to change and hate is a great motivator.
Ello seems to be picking the perceived pain points of Facebook. One of the key differentiators of Ello appears to be its ad-free, privacy-first promise, which addresses the issues bothering Facebook users. As stated in the Ello Manifesto:
Your social network is owned by advertisers. Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads.
If Ello promises to give an ad-free social network, then the obvious question is how it will monetize its offerings in the long run. Ello would use a Freemium model and offer its customers some basic features for free and charge for advanced features, much the way LinkedIn works. For the Freemium model to be successful, free features should be compelling enough for users to sign up, and the premium features should be just as compelling to convert users to a paid subscription.
Ello is not planning to force users to display their actual names, which creates a degree of anonymity. For most discussions on a social network, it makes sense to use your real identity as it adds to authenticity in conversations. But there are some situations where a certain degree of anonymity might help, such as with sensitive and personal topics regarding health, religion, sexuality, etc. Facebook isn't too far behind in this aspect and has announced an upcoming anonymous app that would let users comment anonymously.
Ello has garnered reasonable buzz at the moment. It’s no-ad stance will impress people who really are fed up with Facebook always trying to learn more about its users. At the same time, there will be a number of users who acknowledge that Facebook is largely a free service and are really fine with the noise that comes with it.
Whether Ello will be able to make a dent in the vast Facebook empire remains to be seen, but the arrival of these new incumbents will force Facebook to provide a better service to its users.
What do you think?