It is an interesting time in social media. New social apps and social networks are popping up left and right. Facebook has lost user’s trust and Twitter has just completely screwed up the stream for some users. Yik Yak has exploded in popularity on college campuses but is used for silliness or threats which end in arrest. Google+ is an amazing platform but it takes more than 5 seconds to learn how to use (more like 5 months) and none of your friends are there. The list goes on…
Facebook was first to get a huge amount of users, just as eBay was the first to get a huge amount of users in the online auction business. I do not think that eBay could be replaced. Could Facebook be replaced? Alternatives are popping up left and right and it does seem that people are anxious for an alternative. Is it that hard? Why not just make an easy to use social media network that shows the posts of the people and pages you follow in chronological order? Could the answer be Ello?
Ello says it will not sell your data to third parties. Ello allows you to opt out of information collection. Ello is ad free. According to Ello’s FAQ page, Ello was created because other networks are ugly, full of ads, and have a manipulated stream. Sounds great, right? I have no doubt the creators of Ello have excellent intentions in mind. Most of all, I like that they created the network even though some people told them they shouldn’t. Is there any greater motivation?
I received my Ello invite this weekend and spent a few hours playing on the network. My first thoughts are, wow, this needs a lot of work. That said, it is in Beta, meaning, it isn’t ready for the public just yet. Below are my first thoughts.
Has Ello made a terrible mistake by letting people use it before it is ready?
Ello is in Beta right now, which means it is not available to the general public. Although, getting an invite is easy. On the Internet, first impressions are everything. People spend a few minutes, or sometimes a few seconds, checking things out. If they come now and see that their friends aren’t there, will they leave and never return?
There’s no app for that? It is on the way. Every social network needs an app. The app is more important than the website, isn’t it? The Ello app for iOS & Android is supposed to be out in late 2014.
Where is the like feature? Apparently, there is a love feature coming, which sounds interesting, but it isn’t there yet.
Can Ello remain ad free?
How will Ello remain ad free? Won’t one of the developers want some money? What if 1 billion people join and the company is valued at 70 billion dollars? These are humans we’re talking about, right? What if they get run over by a truck? Who takes it over? Won’t the new owner want to monetize it? With the valuations social companies are getting these days I just find it very, very hard to believe that they won’t monetize it. If Ello takes off and becomes popular, they’ll have to be purchasing some heavy duty servers, fighting spam, fighting hackers off, policing the network, hiring programmers, battling lawsuits, the list goes on. Are the owners going to scrape up millions and millions of dollars out of their own pockets to make sure users don’t see ads? Do people even mind ads? Ads are ok if they are not destroying the user experience- I mean, we’re used to them. I have sat down and watched 4yr old children that know how to work around ads just fine. Ello’s plan is to introduce paid features. I did this in the early 1990s with my BBS, and, even though I was running one of the most popular boards, nobody had any intention of paying to use a free service. Besides, ad blocking is a thing. Power users like myself haven’t seen ads in over a decade.
Will Ello be easy enough to use?
One of the main reasons Google+ has performed so bad is due to the complexity of it. Some people, myself included, love all of the features. It really is the perfect network. But, it should just “work”. I have understood this since I was a child. People want a big red button to complete their tasks on their computer. They do not want to have to spend time learning something new. Will it be easy to use? Do you need a 700 page hardcover book to learn how to use Twitter? No. If Ello is a snap to use, people might use it. If it is complex and people start offering Ello training, Ello marketing, Ello strategy, or “How to Ello” guides put a fork in it.
Who will be popular on Ello?
If Ello can avoid a suggested user list, that would be great. Not that you would, but if you visited Google+ you would see some really strange people with “200,000 followers”. In reality, these people have more like 20 followers. That is because people 99+% of people join, follow someone on the SUL, and then never return, that, or they are simply followed by spam accounts. To make matters worse some of these people go on pretending that they really have a quarter million connections. When “normal” people join and see this, they run. If JLo is popular there, or college students are using it, it stands a chance. Or, maybe it will just be another network to see animated cat GIFs.
What I don’t like about Ello:
- The ease of use is not there just yet. For example, to find people to follow you have to somehow navigate over to the search page https://ello.co/search. How will this work in the future? Is this going to be a place to follow other random users? I already have marketers following me. That makes me want to share nothing but cat GIFs. If this is the anti-Facebook network, I only want to network with people I personally know.
- Is there no way to keep your stuff private? To me this is the deal breaker. Why on earth would anyone use Ello instead of Facebook if they can’t keep their information, posts, and pictures private? Do they expect people to post pictures of their 3yr old children online for the world to see? Ello and Facebook aren’t even in the same category if you can’t keep your data private.
- There are no picture albums. Why not? How is mom supposed to upload all of the “2014 beach vacation” photos?
I am not so sure about Ello. It is being sold as the Facebook killer. If isn’t a Facebook killer, when people come to see the Facebook killer and see a half built social network with no user privacy they will just leave and never return. That said, I love the people, the manifesto, and the idea. We’ll see. Say ‘ello to me here.
Below is a list of features currently in place, and a list of features coming soon, as of September 28, 2014:
- Simple commenting * @mention pre-population on user profiles * Improved error handling
- Enhanced user Discovery
- Fluid grid Noise view
- Views per post
- Drag users between Friends & Noise (stilly buggy)
- Email notifications (Following/Invite Accepted/Mentions)
- Invitation system & ability to invite friends
- Network-wide system announcement system
- In-Stream notifications (Following/Invite Accepted)
- In-line Emoji integration
- View Followers & Following lists
- Welcome post & brief tutorial
- Re-order fields within Omnibar
- WTF section (Help, About & Policies)
- Post #, Follower # & Following #
- @mentions (update: autocompleter now works!)
- Shift + 5 toggles between list and fluid grid views
- Arrow keys hide and reveal drawer & access full-screen publishing mode
- Ability to make profile visible on Ello network only (on/off)
- Image compression
- Follow (Friends/Noise)
- Unfollow (Friends/Noise)
- Omnibar post text (basic)
- Omnibar post text advanced (bold, italic, urls)
- Omnibar post images
- Omnibar post animated GIFs
- Omnibar post Emoji
- Omnibar delete posts
- Omnibar edit posts
- Time stamp displays post detail/permalink
- Option to toggle Google Analytics on/off
- Respect DNT browsers settings
- User blocking
- Inappropriate content flagging
- Audio integration (Soundcloud)
- Private accounts
- Rich (multimedia) commenting
- Mobile web refinements
- Repost w/ author attribution
- Notification Center
- Online/offline user designation
- Love + Love bookmarking stream
- Emoji index
- Video integration (Youtube, Vimeo, Instagram & Vine)
- @@ Private Messaging
- Auto-push posts to other networks
- iOS & Android mobile apps