Is Facebook Really in Trouble with Trendy New Social Network Ello?

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Recently, my Facebook feed exploded with comments something along the lines of “Anyone have an Ello invite??!!”

Ello?? What?? Why don’t I know about this?? A simple search on the web for the word Ello brought about hundreds of articles from Forbes to USA Today talking about the latest trendy social network, and everything you needed to know about it. ELLO!

According to the NY Times, Ello has grown from 60 users to 1 million users in three months.  What’s more staggering is that there are currently 3 million – yes 3 million – people on the waiting list to get an Ello invite!

Ello was profiled in Fortune, National Public Radio and TechCrunch among many, many places. News and blogs were reporting that Ello was getting 40,000 new users to sign up every HOUR of every day.  Even Jimmy Fallon weighed in on the pros and cons of joining Ello.

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I admit I was CURIOUS. The idea of an anti-Facebook social network was pretty exhilerating.  The premise of Ello was the sites like Facebook collected all of your data, your purchasing habits, your ethnicity, your age — everything and then sold it to advertisers so that they could put sponsored ads in front of you.  That is the Facebook business model. The premise of Ello is the exact opposite of Facebook – a social network with no ads, no data mining. Thus earning the nickname the “anti-facebook”.

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Aside from the lack of ads and data mining, Ello is basically like Facebook — you can post status updates, photos of your friends.  You can comment on friends posts.  There’s also a section called “Noise” that lets you showcase online art.

So naturally, after reading all about Ello, all over the web, I decided to sign up.  And this is the message I received.

Ello has gone viral and we are temporarily freezing invitations for new users. This allows us to make sure that Ello remains stable as the network continues to grow. Check back here for updates — we promise to give you more invites as soon as we can!

I found this pretty surprising because, you would think, that any company that is trying to start up a social network would be trying its hardest to sign up new users.  And how many companies out there want to be the next Facebook?? And how many companies would love to have the amount of traffic headed to their site and a tidal wave of publicity in the news headlines referring to it as the potential NEXT Facebook?

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But apparently, Ello wants to do it right. They want to have the critical internet infrastructure in place so that when people sign on, they will not have trouble loading pages and experiencing a lot of glitches on the website.  They want people to have a seemless experience.

So while I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an Ello user, since I’m still waiting for an invite, I have been reading about the waves of news articles about Ello in the past month.  That includes the fact that it has already raised 5.5 million dollars from an investment firm.

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The CEO of Ello Paul Budnitz has already hit the media circuit, commenting on how he feels about Facebook, telling Re/Code in a Q&A “We are not here to compete with Facebook. We don’t actually consider Facebook a social network. We think of it as an advertising platform. We’re doing our own thing. When we started creating Ello we actually tried to erase anything we knew and start from scratch and just tried to build what we wanted.”

All I can say is that people have constantly been talking about what would happen to Facebook if someday everyone decided to flee Facebook and go to another social network?  Just like what happened to MySpace a few years back.  Facebook would collapse just like Enron — only without the scandal part.

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Remember MySpace?  It happened to them. Perhaps that is little of what is driving the hoopla around Ello — that there could be a new Facebook Killer.  But speaking as a marketer, Facebook allows companies to target people in the digital space.  At the same time Advertisers are getting fed up with Facebook because over the past couple months they have seen a dramatic dip in the amount of users they reach.  But obviously if Facebook falls apart at the hands of new social networks like Ello. Then where are advertisers to go?

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I honestly don’t think Facebook is going to fall apart. I feel it is too big of a company with too much money that will put too many resources behind not allowing themselves to fall apart.  As sad as it sounds, I think they will do everything they can to make sure Ello does not succeed.  In fact, they’ve already launched a new ad free social network called Rooms that is a throwback to chatrooms of yesteryear that is gaining traction.  Facebook is also acquiring companies like Instagram and Whatsapp for billions of dollars so that if people start to flee Facebook in large numbers, they will continue to thrive.

I don’t believe advertisers will stop using Facebook to advertise.  As long as it is a way to reach people across the digital space, I feel they will continue to use Facebook.  But, instead of solely relying on Facebook for social media advertising, I do think we will see more companies creating their own advertising websites, or microsites, to push their own products.

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EA Games successfully did this recently by pushing their advertisements from Madden 15 to their own microsite called The Giferator, where you can create your own GIFs of different football players on different teams.

Anyway, getting back to Ello.  I don’t know if I’ve peaked your curiosity on Ello, but I’ll leave you with Jimmy Fallon weighing in on the pros and cons of Ello

PS – A month has past since I’ve signed up and I have only gotten a few e-mails from Ello telling me to hold tight, that a new round of email invites would be coming soon. You can give it a whirl at this link .  Good Luck!

Update – I emailed my blog post to the Ello CEO and asked for an invite. And the next day I had an Ello invite in my inbox!! I will keep you posted on my experiences using Ello.

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