The new media site 'Ello' has entered a beta testing stage, and already has a great deal of interest from businesses wishing to promote their products. Ello is being promoted as the ad-free, socially conscious alternative to Facebook, with an 'invite only' format that is aimed at making the site more exclusive and increasing the quality of the content.
However; attempts at toppling Facebook from its throne have failed before. Other sites such as Google+ have attempted similar coups, but in doing so have failed to provide a true alternative to Facebook. Google+ became more of the same thing, with more targeted ads and the usual selling of user data that has brought criticism to Facebook.
For companies looking to move into new forms of social media, there is always the danger that in doing so, they will have merely turned an exciting new social media opportunity into another selling platform. Ello claims to have created a site that prevents it's users being treated as a product, but any social media alternative needs to be more than just an upstart alternative to Facebook. Ello already has buy-in from major brands such as Sonos and Netflix, so it remains to be seen how users will react to these brands on a supposedly ad-free site.
However, the future of alternative social media is potentially bright. Brands are already accepting the idea that consumers are tired of relentless product marketing; they want substance over the hard sell, and this can be managed effectively by ensuring that the content on the site remains high. Even brands themselves have grown tired of existing alongside the banal and frivolous content on Facebook, and a more exclusive format by sites such as Ello could allow brands to focus more on engaging with consumers whilst allowing their products to do the talking.
Social media should harness the current 'ad-fatigue' that seems to have gripped users, and this could be the start of an advertising revolution. For brands, learning to treat consumers as people could mark the start of a potentially exciting experiment that revolutionises the marketing of products and helps to blur the line between companies and buyers, helping to form a more open relationship.
In any case, any brand that is keen to be associated with exclusivity will gain some respect by the users of new social media.