ello logo vs facebook logo

Is Ello the new Facebook?

New social media network Ello has made a big splash in the past couple of weeks, with its founder Paul Budnitz claiming that they are receiving thousands of requests per hour to join. But will it become a serious rival to Facebook?

Ello has been dubbed the “anti-Facebook” because of their commitment to remain ad-free. They lay out their manifesto on their website, stating “Ello doesn’t sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties”. Despite seemingly presenting themselves as an alternative to Facebook, Budnitz told the BBC “We don’t consider Facebook to be a competitor. We see it as an ad platform and we are a network”.

They certainly appear to be competing since Ello was launched – a large number of users to have joined so far are members of the LGBT community who are unhappy specifically with Facebook. This is primarily because the network went as far as deleting profiles of drag queens who used their stage names instead of their real names. The deleted profiles have since been restored, but Facebook is insisting that real names are used. This is not a requirement on Ello.

Another driving force behind the Ello popularity is the fact that you need an invite to be able to join. Whilst the buzz for invites has been great, it is unclear how active users have become once they have signed up.

So how will Ello make any money if it remains ad-free? Joining the network is free, but users will be able to purchase premium features, add-ons to a profile that will enhance the experience. It’s debatable whether this alone would be able to sustain Ello if its popularity continues to grow, and the investors at Venture Capital who have funded the network will expect a return.

It’s very early on in the life of Ello, and it will be interesting to see if the network can consolidate its early popularity. The good news is that some major brands have already signed up.

The not-so-good news – Netflix posted encouraging users to like them on Facebook, thereby missing the point of Ello entirely!

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Greg Bortkiewicz