This article is strictly my opinion. I honestly hope that I am wrong as I am not a fan of Facebook and the way they sell user’s data. That said, the replacement for Facebook is not going to be Ello or ello.co. Two weeks ago Ello jumped on my radar when a few social media news outlets published a “news brief” on the newest social network. Late last week I saw Ello invites making the rounds on Twitter and Google Plus. I noticed they had branded themselves as the Facebook replacement so I had to give it a look.
It took me all over 20 minutes to realize that Ello is not a Facebook replacement. Heck, it isn’t a Tumblr or Reddit replacement. In all reality, this social network could die faster than Diaspora. The creators claim they are not going to sell data or have any type of advertisements on their “social network”. This is why they are the claimed opposite of Facebook and a potential killer of the largest social network in the world. At the surface, this sounds like a great idea. Ultimately, once enough users join Ello they are going to start charging a nominal fee for add on features. So you would pay $1.99 a month or year to have the ability to add a specific function. This would work tremendously if the network took off and was a must have for users.
I think we can all agree that if Facebook charged $1.99 a year for the Facebook Messenger service a large number of Facebook users would pay for it. They have been sucked into the Facebook ecosystem and, honestly, some cannot live without it. Facebook has done an amazing job of creating a walled in network that has diehard users that are not willing to leave. Why can’t Ello do the same thing?
Being First is Sometimes Better Than Being the Best
Ello is ten years late to the party. Well, maybe not ten years but at least five years. Facebook took off in 2004 when it was available only to college students. Twitter started in March of 2006 and really started to take off in 2008. This means social networks have aged. If you have any business savvy at all you know just how difficult it is to challenge a market leader. Even though McDonald’s has been serving fattening food for decades they can make a switch to fruit and yogurt as a side and still remain the market leader in fast food. Why hasn’t Panera or other healthier options been able to overtake them? McDonald’s was first. Kids grew up eating McDonald’s and seeing Ronald McDonald in the play area.
The same can be said for Apple with the iPhone. Many diehard Android users have pointed out that all the “new” features on the iPhone 6 were available on the Nexus 4 almost two years ago. While this is true, Apple continues to be the largest tech company in the world. Why would people stand in line for hours, and sometimes days, if they could get an Android that does the exact same thing two years ago? Apple was first with the smartphone.
I could go on and on about being first to market with a product or in a specific vertical. Time and again we see the companies that create a commodity early remain market leaders for decades and sometimes centuries. One could argue that tech is different but look at Google for search, Microsoft WIndows for desktop computing, Apple for music and smartphones, Facebook for social networking and Wikipedia for an online encyclopedia.
Ello Has Zero College Campus Presence
If there has to be a “how to” guide to use a social network it doesn’t have a chance. For well over a month I have been singing the praises of Yik Yak for its ease of use. I am also well aware of the power of college campuses. Almost every major social network started on a college campus. Facebook started at Harvard, Twitter and Snapchat started at Stanford, Yik Yak started at Furman. I could go on and on. There is a damn good reason that social networks start on college campuses.
College students have time and they love to tell their friends what they are doing. On any given day, there are tens of thousands of students in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill area sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. If something gains in popularity it is going to be spread for over 100,000 students to see. That is just in the Triangle area. These students have friends at Wake Forest, UNC Asheville, the University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Clemson, the University of South Carolina. I think you get the picture.
It does not take long for a viral network or blog post to make its way all the way across the country if it starts on a college campus. Living right beside the University of North Carolina I can tell you that students sit on social media all day, every day. Adults have lives. They cannot, and should not, sit on social media all day looking for the latest hot trend. Adults have to pay the mortgage, spend time with their spouses and raise children. Heck, most do not know the different between Twitter, Snapchat and Yik Yak.
If Ello makes a push on college campuses it would go a very long way towards growing the network. Unfortunately, college students don’t care for a competitor to Facebook. They want something different. They already have Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr so why would they need another social network. They are savvy enough to turn on adblock or mentally block out the ads. Heck, most college students don’t even realize there are ads on Facebook.
Yik Yak is the complete opposite of Ello. Ello has gone after marketers and tech geeks while Yik Yak went after college students. Yik Yak is currently taking a campus tour around the United States. They have a Yak outfit and they are spending time with students in the real world. The students I know spend hours a day trying to build their Yakarma score. Unfortunately, Google Plus, Ello and other social networks are limited to people that are quite unwilling to get out in the real world. It will be interesting to see if Ello goes down the same road as Google Plus.
While I love Google Plus for its products and features I can agree that there are too many “experts” pumping out how to posts. Yes, please tell me how I can be social. That is exactly what I want. Sense the sarcasm? If Ello gets inundated with marketers and social media experts it has no chance. Only time will tell but at this point, I do not see Ello making a dent in any of the other social networks.