It was only a few days ago that discussions started popping up on LinkedIn, business forums, and blogs with marketers talking about how to leverage Ello for their business. For a social media platform that's still in Beta but averaging thousands of sign ups an hour, it's worth your attention.
Still, Ello's manifesto claims to never support advertising or sell user data on its platform. Marketers remember the first years of Facebook and the free marketing platform where their brands could get engagement and easy access to their consumer audience. But as most platforms have moved to a "pay per play" model and consumers are accustomed (begrudgingly) to a set-up where they leave breadcrumbs of data in exchange for free networking with their friends and family - Ello is a breath of fresh air.
It's clean, with an easy navigation, simplistic, and lots of white space. Ello offers high-resolution images, no character limit, and sorting friends into different categories. It's a mash-up of Flickr, Google+, Tumblr, and Twitter all in one.
Yet without advertising - what's a brand to do? Advice from other marketers ranges from "just be authentic" to "just wait and see - it might not be around very long."
Ello isn't going to stop you from creating a brand page - founder Paul Budnitz has a page for his bicycle company, Budnitz Bicycles. His content stream contains gorgeous pictures of bikes that any cycle junkie would lust after. Ello isn't promising a social network where brands and entrepreneurs are forbidden from talking about their products. They're just promising not to use paid advertising. And since users have flocked there after getting fed up by relentless advertising and consumerism on Facebook - your brand might not be welcomed simply because it's a brand.
So if Ello makes it past an incredible and painful growth stage intact, what sort of brands should consider it as a potential community opportunity? Businesses that consistently create strong, unique visual content are the ones that rule the marketing world right now. Ello is filled with high-res images that are beautiful against its clean white background. But not just anyone who creates great imagery will do well - it's business to consumer brands that pride themselves on authenticity. To put it simply - if you're marketing to Hipsters and artists, you're probably a good fit.
So Who Should Consider Ello?
- Solo-entrepreneurs. Don't even create a brand page - just utilize your own page to network and connect with other people in your niche. Of course, depending on your niche it could be a total waste of time - a solo insurance agent or accountant might not have the same success rates as those listed below.
- Graphic Designers. Ello was founded as a private network of designers for a long time. There's a lot of really great opportunity to network, share, collaborate, learn, and grow as a designer, and Ello's platform of high-res images and lots of white space is the perfect way to do it.
- Musicians. Maybe SoundCloud, Vine, or YouTube is the best platform for you, but when Ello introduces some of their audio and video capabilities, there could be opportunity for independent musicians to find new fans.
- Visual Artists. Instagram is a favorite platform to follow visual artists, but Ello could offer a space for them for the same reasons as graphic designers.
- Photographers. Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram work well for this industry, but there is plenty of room for photographers to join up with graphic designers and visual artists to take over Ello.
- Writers. Ello has some similarities to Tumblr, and though many writers prefer blogs and platforms like WordPress, Ello has the social element that many of those are lacking.
- Non-Profits. Non-profits that focus on niches like social justice, poverty alleviation, and economic empowerment could find a lot of support from Ello users who seem to be the demographic that supports social causes.
- Lifestyle brands. Only certain lifestyle brands will find success in Ello but brands that produce fun, unique content could be received. Think cigars, craft beer, boats, or anything vintage. Many Ello are male, so while a brand like Toms could potentially succeed - Martha Stewart may not.
- Fashion. If you're thinking Abercrombie - you're wrong. The only sort of fashion that will thrive in this hipster environment will be the kind that's 100% organic, sourced from artisans in India, with 20% of its proceeds going to save the whales. But in all seriousness, that sort of brand is already up and going on Ello.
- Tech. The fun, innovative, wearable sort of tech. The kind that transforms art. The kind that makes design more fun or just simpler. The sort of tech that changes the consumer world.
The popularity of startup social network Ello should make you take a long, hard look at your social media presence. Ello is all about authenticity, free from advertising and aggressive push marketing.
99% of the world's brands don't belong on Ello, and it's not worth your social media team's time to develop a presence. Of course, with billions of users "liking" brand pages - it's not like users don't want anything to do with you. But it's a universal truth that they care more about Joe's 30th birthday party last night more than your weekend sale. They don't want your brand ads showing up and displacing pictures of their friend's new baby.
Take your cue from Ello's manifesto - their users are not a product to be bought. Their attention must be earned.