Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple days, you’ve probably seen an influx of posts on Facebook and Google+ touting Ello as the anti-Facebook. Ello original started off as a private social media network and has evolved into a public social media network that is currently in beta and open by invitation only.
Popular social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have slowly evolved and changed their models to include injecting advertising into the feeds and pages of their users. With this onslaught of advertising, users are finding that their streams are becoming more convoluted, and at times it is difficult to see only what you want to see without feeling inundated by advertising.
A group of seven designers and programmers got together and created Ello primarily for this reason and state that:
virtually all the other social networks were cluttered, ugly, and full of ads. We began to feel manipulated by the networks themselves — many of our posts were never seen by our friends at all, because ads had taken priority.
Furthermore, Ello claims it will remain ad free and will never sell your information for advertising purposes. Their manifesto is as follows:
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. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.
You are not a product.
So what is Ello?
As mentioned above, Ello is a social media platform which aims to rid your interactions with others of ads from advertisers. Currently in beta, the service is somewhat simplistic and a bit confusing to navigate at first. Even once you get the hang of navigating the site, it still feels a bit clunky.
Ello plans on sustaining the service by making some features purchasable for a fee – from the sounds of it for a small one time fee which would then activate that feature on your account for the lifetime of the service. This is definitely an interesting business model, and it will be interesting what kind of features they will be adding as pay-to-use.
As for the platform itself, Ello currently is fairly sparse and plain to look at. Users are limited to simple posts with image embedding (which are compressed but not resized making for some large images in your feed) and limited formatting – bold, italics, links, and emojis. There is currently no “Like” or share functionality. Ello does have a list of items coming soon however, which promises more feature rich posting in the future. Some of the coming features include:
- User blocking
- Inappropriate content flagging
- Audio integration (Soundcloud)
- Private Accounts
- Rich (multimedia) commenting
- Mobile web refinements
- Repost w/ author attribution
- Notification Center
- Online/offline user designation
- Love + Love bookmarking stream
- Emoji index
- Video integration (Youtube, Vimeo, Instagram & Vine)
- @@ Private Messaging
- Auto-push posts to other networks
- iOS & Android mobile apps
One of the features that Ello implemented already that sets it apart is the ability to follow people either as Friends or Noise. People you want to follow do not have to reciprocate, much like how Google+ and Twitter work. Anyone that you want to follow and see all their posts, simply add them as Friends. Anyone else you might want to follow but not see their posts all the time can be added to the Noise label. When browsing your stream, you have the option to select between Friends or Noise to choose which posts you want to see. Either feed can be viewed in list or grid view.
At this point, the best comparison would be to say that Ello is a Twitter/Tumblr hybrid, but that will most likely evolve as more features are added.
How do I get in?
Currently you can sign up to Ello by invitation only. They do have a page set up to request an invitation but state it could take weeks or even months to get an invite to their service. Your best bet is checking your other social media accounts to see if any of your friends/followers/circled people are offering up invites to the service. Each person gets 5 invites upon signing up to the service, so more and more people are able to sign up each day.\
New social media networks come and go, or start off with an initial rush of interest and sign ups only to fizzle. Past attempts by Diaspora, App.net, a revamped mySpace, and others to recreate the social media experience and take on Facebook and Twitter haven’t really succeeded. Even Orkut was shuttered by Google recently. Speaking of Google, their Google+ service has been the only new social media service in the past few years that has gained any type of serious traction – albeit through the use of mandatory sign ups when using other Google services. One might mention Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine, but those are very specific and limited social media experiences, and not as full blown as Ello is aiming to be.
Will Ello succeed where others have failed? Has the time come where enough Facebook users are fed up and ready to move on? Only time will tell, but I suspect social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are here to stay for the foreseeable future and then some.
Are you on Ello? Let us know what you think of the new service in the comments below, or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.