Hello, Ello!: Our take on this new social phenomenon

Lithium Alumni (Retired)




If you consider yourself to be even somewhat social media savvy, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen and heard the pomp and circumstance around the latest, exclusive (might we even say, elusive?), and ad-free social media platform: Ello.


Sure, we all like the new shiny thing – let’s be honest, how many people eagerly awaited the arrival of their new “phone” in the mail last week? – but the question we have to ask ourselves about Ello is: “Is it really worth all the hype?” Most of us haven’t used it--still no invite (I’m ready to accept happily) so it is just too soon to tell. But this is what we know so far.


What is Ello?

It’s a social network. It’s free to users. It’s supposed to be beautiful (designed by artists and programmers to ensure a fine balance between form and function). It’s ad-free and un-trackable (well, for the most part). What we’re being told it isn’t: yet another data mining hub in the already cluttered social web. Ello is essentially being positioned, according to both prolific and doomsday-esque manifestos, as “a tool for empowerment…a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.” While we’re not exactly sure what that means in terms of Ello’s broader platform, experiential, or community strategy, what we do know is that it’s growing at a pace of about 30,000 new user requests per hour – in its live beta, mind you. So go ahead, request your invitation to the community now, but be forewarned, there may be a bit of a wait.


Why Should Brands and Marketers Care?

With only a lofty manifesto and a few profile examples to work with, we may be putting the cart before the horse by assuming what impact Ello’s rise will have on the broader social web. But one thing is clear: this signifies a desire to build, grow, and nurture social communities free from the shadows cast by the advertising establishment. We don’t necessarily see it as a call to arms for social anonymity (“Secret” has got that covered for now), but rather a desire to experience a non-commercial life on the social web. Brands and marketers should take heed. This doesn’t mean users don’t want to engage with you; they just don’t always want you following their digital footprint. Step back, please. 


How Could This Impact the Future of Social Media Marketing?

Who could doubt this was coming? We knew that, once it came, it would undoubtedly debunk everything we know – or believe in – today about social media marketing. And that’s a good thing. Why? Because it will signify the end of measuring success in “likes,” “retweets,” and “mentions,” and, instead, force us, as marketers, to create and engage with our customers and communities in more personal, relevant, and, dare we say, strategic ways. In fact, Ello could potentially encourage us marketers to focus on quality over quantity (oh, imagine!), fundamentally challenging our assumptions about the value of one BILLION users. But fear not my friends, this is not to suggest throwing the baby out with the bath water. Relax, there will be a place for your messages. Though it should make you start to question the meaning of consumer engagement and what kind of engagement is most valuable to your brand. That’s exciting, because contemplating that will inevitably lead you to reinvent how you connect with your customers. And will help you to be just flat out better in how you serve them. 


If you have thoughts on Ello to share with me, I’d love to know them.




Katy Keim is the Chief Marketing Officer at Lithium Technologies. 

She is a frequent contributor in the Lithium View blog.  

On the Lithium Community she is KatyK.

Or you can find her on Twitter @katykeim or at her blog, BookSnob