What is Ello and how might it change social media?

Ello is a revolutionary social networking site that intends to drive Facebook out of business. The new community claims to be a more trustworthy alternative to Facebook’s increasingly dissatisfied users. Will Ello deliver on its promises?

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Ello Plans to Take Facebook Refugees

Facebook users are leaving the site in droves. Earlier this year, iStrategy Labs released a study showing 11 million young users have abandoned the site since 2011. Ello is marketing to its competitor’s disenfranchised users by branding itself as “The Anti-Facebook.”  The last paragraph of its manifesto states:

“We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life. You are not a product.”

Ello plans to monetize itself with paid upgrades and other premium features so that it can be ad-free forever. One survey found that 53% of Facebook users have grown irritated with the site’s ads, so many of these people may want to check Ello out.

While annoying advertising is a huge complaint among Facebook users, privacy is an even larger concern. Ello promises to prioritize user privacy by allowing users to opt out of Google Analytics tracking and will never share their data. The “privacy first” model will appeal to users that have grown wary of Facebook sharing their data with advertisers and other third-parties.

Will Ello Really Be a Game Changer?

Ello is still undergoing beta testing, but many people have already expressed interest in it. At one point this week, the site received 31,000 requests for beta-testers in a single hour.

The site is clearly gaining traction, but needs deliver on its promises to maintain momentum. Some experts are skeptical that the site can survive without advertising. Founder Paul Budnitz confirmed that the company has received nearly half a million dollars in funding from a Vermont based venture capital company. Investors are always anxious to see new startups generate revenue, which can create a dilemma for Ello if users don’t purchase its premium services.

However, even if Ello can’t deliver on expectations, it is still changing the social media industry. It has already proven that there is a strong demand for a social networking site with a different set of values than Facebook. Facebook will need to adapt its own approach if it hopes to avoid becoming the next MySpace.

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