October 1, 2014

Ello: Is it me you’re looking for?

The Ello interface. Photo via The Verge.

The recent launch of Ello, a minimalistic, ad-free social networking platform, has been making headlines recently as a new, shiny, and relatively exclusive social media network. With a reported 35,000 new users per hour, people are certainly interested in the concept, but what is Ello all about and what’s the big deal?

I received an invitation to join Ello from a friend and signed up to see what the hype was about. I was greeted with a truly bare-bones interface, which you can see in the featured image above. You can post text and photo updates and to me, it almost seems like a Twitter/Tumblr hybrid, slowed down about 1000 times. What was the biggest change? It was free of notifications, messages, links to today’s latest Buzzfeed article, and ads.

It seems as though anyone who has a presence on social media is itching to join, especially as people wonder whether this will be the straw that breaks Facebook’s back. Time will tell if Ello will be a Facebook killer, but for now, it has brought on something else – the desire for a Facebook killer. This, to me, is a very understandable request. The only reason I still have a Facebook account is for the sake of having one. With over a billion users, Facebook has become ubiquitous and, at least as a 20-something year old, it’s hard to say that you are truly connected without a Facebook account. I use it to help organize groups, find out about events, and (quite frankly) propagate the organizations I am a part of. It’s no longer a tool for me to connect with people personally; in the past month, I’ve shared one personal status update. One.

My single status update in the last month.

My single status update in the last month.

I recently ran into an old friend and during the course of our conversation, they said something that really struck me: “Social media has never been more ineffective.” As a marketing student and a self-professed social media junkie, this shocked me – how could anyone say this? Social media is everywhere! The mere thought was absurd to me… until I thought about it. Social media is everywhere and in turn, everyone is on social media. Social media has transformed from a channel for people to connect with each other to one for brands to compete for people’s attention.

Never before has Facebook – and social media in general – been so plagued with an overload of information. Between the constant status updates, content from different brands, and suggested/promoted material, does anything really get through anymore? Honestly, there are times when I don’t even bother. I open my social media feeds and am overwhelmed with new statuses, photos, and shared links. Friends are mixed in with colleagues, news, and brands in one big, messy stream of data.

Social media has never been more ineffective.

It seems that Ello has accounted for this – you can sort the accounts you follow as either “Friends” or “Noise”. Perhaps Ello will be a departure from the oversaturated feeds we’ve become accustomed to. For now, it’s ad-free and with relatively few people using it in comparison to Facebook or Twitter, my feed is clean.  There are things to consider – social media networks only really work once they’ve reached critical mass. That is, a network works when there are lots of people using it, and people sign up when they see there are lots of people using it already. It’s currently invite only and each new user has 5 invitations to give away, so finding people to follow right away may be a bit difficult and at the moment, my feed is incredibly sparse.

Ello is also a platform better suited for displaying thoughts and work rather than fostering connections. While people can post photos, others can’t comment on them. It seems almost disjointed and posts are isolated. The simplicity of the platform will be a huge factor in its success, or failure, whichever ends up happening. On one hand, it is boundless – Ello has the potential to become whatever people would like it to be. On the other, could it be too simple? If people don’t have design or photography work to share, it seems as though there is little else that would be fitting to post.

Still in beta mode, Ello certainly has some kinks to work out (constant broken pages), features to add (searching for people you know would be nice), and some growing yet to do, but it’s a very appealing concept to both my mind and my eyes. I, for one, am willing to give it a chance, and even if Ello ends up going bye-bye, just the fact that so many people are rushing to test this out says something about how disillusioned we are with social media in its current state.

Have you signed up for Ello yet? Do you think it can take the place of Facebook in your life?


Featured image via The Verge

About the Author

Dalena Nguyen
Dalena Nguyen
Dalena is a final year Business student at Simon Fraser University and is former editor of Recultured. She is a self-professed social media junkie, a Canucks fan, and an impulse shopper. When she's not running from meeting to meeting or trying to find her next meal, you can find her on Twitter @dalenanguyen_!

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