Well Hello, Ello. Who Are You?

While battling a vicious cold, I was perusing my Facebook feed and saw an interesting article posted by 97.1 AMP radio talking about a new social networking site called Ello, which identifies itself as the “Anti-Facebook.”

Here’s the skinny on Ello. It’s an invitation-only networking site that, according to CNET, looks like a basic version of Tumblr. Once added, users can post images and content to their page and see their friends’ posts. Ello claims to offer an environment respectful of the user’s privacy and advertisement-free. In fact, if users don’t indicate that they agree with the Ello manifesto while signing up, they are immediately sent to the Facebook site.

Paul Budnitz, a 47-year-old designer and entrepreneur started developing the site with is team in January of 2014. In the past few weeks, the site has received thousands of requests to join per day. Ello’s entry into the social media market comes at a convenient time with Facebook privacy paranoia at an all-time high thanks to the new required FB Messenger application and its permissions. Ello claims that it will be different than Facebook. But how?

Here are a few things to consider before you leap off the Facebook bandwagon and on to the much smaller Ello one. First, you cannot just join the site. You have to request to be added and hope an existing user likes you enough to invite you to join. Second, if you want the Ello mobile app, ability to give access to business profile pages or flexibility to change the color scheme on your page, it’s time to whip out that credit card because you have to pay for these features.

I tried searching the Google Play store for the Ello app to get an idea of pricing, but low and behold, there isn’t currently an Ello app available. Well, at least there isn’t an Ello social network app available, but if you want Ello TV or the Ello messenger and calling app, they’re ready to be downloaded—for FREE. Huffington Post’s Robert Rosenthal wrote an awesome, simple article about why he’s mellow on Ello (for now), and in it, he details his reasons why, as a social networker Ello doesn’t have the best appeal at this time.

I have to agree with Rosenthal that at this time, I personally am not intrigued by Ello, nor do I have the desire to request to be added to the network. Sure, I was a little put off by needing to ask to join a network I’ll eventually have to pay for to access from my phone, but that wasn’t my key qualm. Upon reading the first article about Ello, I was immediately irritated by the fact that the network calls itself “the Anti-Facebook.” Upon further investigation of more articles, I found that Ello consistently hinged its services on being completely different from Facebook.

In my opinion, Ello’s marketing tactics have been extremely weak and a bit hypocritical. The company talks down about Facebook’s lack of privacy (which is nothing new) and its overuse of advertising, yet Ello uses Facebook to promote itself by boasting itself as the “Anti-Facebook.” Am I taking crazy pills here? Or did Ello just dis Facebook and then use the FB name to promote itself? And the way they did it was way less clever and funny than the Esurance ads that play off of GEICO’s “15 minutes could save you money on car insurance.” Hashbrown, selfie.

The marketer’s task to create original content and advertisements for his/her organization is a constant challenge, but surely, Ello could have created something more original than being the “Anti-Facebook.” Then again, other than the lack of advertisements and alleged protection of privacy, what exactly does Ello have to offer? Well those of us who don’t use the site don’t really know because Ello has been so busy talking about Anti-Facebook, which reminds me, I need to check my FB feed.



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5 Responses to Well Hello, Ello. Who Are You?

  1. Gail says:

    It is tough to imagine how an anti-Facebook social media company can use Facebook to market itself. That is so metta!

  2. Sarah Nettinga says:

    Another version of Facebook. Save us now. I’m so not interested. I barely use Facebook now. I wish I understand the company mission or vision. What is the point of not allowing people to join unless invited.


  3. Graham says:

    Great article Talyssa! I enjoyed the points you made about the use of Facebook to build an Anti-Facebook brand. Other than TV I can’t really think of another way to build a buzz with the right audience. I think the invite only concept is lacking some luster. I understand wanting to create a sense of exclusivity but without knowing what the network is, or why I should prefer it to Facebook it’s difficult to get excited. The fact that they don’t offer ads doesn’t really mean much to me either. Facebook started out that way and now ads are a chief source of revenue for the company. Interestingly, I also see this as being a disadvantage for Ello. The fact that they don’t have the ad revenue coming in means they have to find alternative means of funding development. Until that happens the Ello product will probably always be inferior to that of Facebook.

    • Yingying says:

      Agree with you, Graham. I don’t think the “Anti-Facebook” is a good idea for marketing, because it did’t indicate any competitive advantage as a social networking site. It’s common for ads overuse social media, and most of us don’t care because they are not movie sites. I’m a little concerned about the privacy problem, but I cannot be persuaded why Ello can do better here. Also, I think Ello needs more innovation for the ease of use.

  4. gina says:

    Very interesting Talyssa–I’ve not heard of Ello. It would be hilarious if FB blocked them 🙂 Hope you’re feeling better.