Though it's been called everything from the Facebook killer to just another blip on the social network radar, a RJMetrics analysis of Ello's public post, follower, and following data paints a positive picture of the ad-free social network...well...for now anyway.
A measurement of 160,000 users from the site shows Ello is capable of playing with the big dogs of social media. New user acquisition is significantly higher than it was last month. Additionally, the number of active users on Ello is 100 times higher than it was before Sept. 21.
The quadruple-threat-free, simple, beautiful, and ad-free-social network has only been around since March, growing slowly until the end of September. But a combination of factors is believed to have given it a viral surge, according to tech industry experts.
It's partly due to people hearing about it from friends on their Facebook feed. A large portion of people who use pseudonyms joined Ello when Facebook cracked down on its "real name" policy. Others, wanting to secure user names on the site (just in case), are even willing to pay for an immediate invite from an Ello member.
Think we'll go back to the status quo of social networking since Ello's new user acquisition is tapering off and Facebook has apologized about its "real name" policy? Supporters hope the new network will help make a significant difference on privacy and user rights, as critics argue it won't survive free and ad-free for long.
"I think that if you tried to run a headline in 2006, 'Facebook Is Going to Be the Next MySpace,' you would not have had enough data to have any idea. What it takes to be the next Facebook is eight years of insanely good growth and high performance," said, Tristan Handy, VP Marketing, RJMetrics. "I don't really buy into all of these claims, 'Ello is going to be the next Facebook.' What we can say right now is that Ello's user activity in these early days is similar to the early days of Twitter and Instagram."
Using analysis that RJMetrics did in the past, the analytics platform compared Ello's performance against our beloved platforms, Twitter and Instagram; as well as a brand new app that launched earlier this year, Jelly.
"It's verifiably not nothing," Handy said about Ello. "You can look at that based on user counts, and everyone knows that it has a lot of users. What our study reveals is that it's not just that they have a lot of signups. They have really strong user engagement, which is the primary measure in a social network whether it will be successful long-term. Do people keep coming back? Do they keep posting? Do they keep logging in? If they do, that's what's predictive of future success. When we say that Ello is doing well when we compare it to Twitter and Instagram, it's that their engagement looks similar to what Twitter and Instagram's engagement looked like much earlier in their trajectories. Users seem to care about Ello, and to actually be using it."
Zooming in on Ello's period of exponential growth, it's impressive that 27 percent of its users have posted more than three times. Also, six days after signup, 20 percent of users were active every day four, five, and six days after signing up on the site. Compare this to Twitter in 2009 when it had been around for about three years. RJMetrics analyzed its user engagement and found that about 20 percent of its users were returning over the course of a given week.
Even though 36 percent of Ello users have never posted and 18 percent have only posted once, it's adding 3,000 to 4,000 users per hour, 73 percent of which haven't updated more than three times. Back in 2011, Instagram was adding 130,000 new users per week (800 an hour), and 65 percent of all users had not uploaded more than three pictures. So again, Ello is holding its own, especially when you consider that it's not as easy these days to break into the social landscape than it was two, three, or five years ago.
"People are getting a little bit lost," Handy said. "Facebook is a lot like the mass media. Everyone is on it and receiving the same experience. It's similar to network TV. There's a huge viewership. The content they're producing appeals to the largest number of people possible. That doesn't mean it's not possible to succeed if you don't become network television. Today, there's more and more ways of reaching your end viewer in the entertainment space and more ways of being successful as a content creator. I don't think there's any reason to believe you can't make a business in the social space for a particular subset of users that love it and the way that it works. I think that's what Ello is trying to do."
Conversely, the research-related app, Jelly, didn't fare as well, although it offers the twist of a connected society of people helping each other, as its homepage pitch reads. When it launched earlier this year, RJMetrics analyzed its active user cohorts by day as well. Even Jelly's best-performing cohorts only had 10 percent of users still active by day six.
"Ello has got to continue doing super well for a really long time if it wants to compete against the massive social media space," Handy said, "as well as being creative about motivating people to keep coming back and engaging. I haven't posted on Ello yet, and I've never gotten anything from them saying, 'Hey, you should really come back and post something.'"
RJMetrics plans to do another analysis on Ello's public pages if we're still hearing good things about them in the next few months. In the meantime, check out RJMetrics' SlideShare, "What Instagram, Twitter, and Jelly Indicate about the Future of Ello," for more information and highlights.