New start-up Ello has made a loud entrance to the social media networking stage.
It purports to serve us social animals in a manifestly different way to the domineering establishment, namely Facebook.
Ello’s emergence has doubtlessly been a rapid one, for it has snowballed from 90 members in August to a claimed 30,000 new users per hour today.
Whether it can truly shake the foundations of the social media mainstream is yet to be seen, but the philosophy Ello says it will fervently abide by is gaining traction among users, and should act as a stark warning to marketers in this crowded space.
Firstly, it has struck a chord with the conscience of consumers by reminding them that the likes of Facebook farm information and personal data for commercial benefit.
“Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties,” its About Us webpage reads.
“Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You're the product that's being bought and sold.”
This appeal against or warning of methods it describes as “creepy and unethical” will only add strength to the view that internet usage is growing ever more uncomfortable and intrusive. Offering a free social media service is perhaps no longer enough to keep consumers complicit to data farming.
Second, Ello points to the human emotion of annoyance when it refers to the adverts themselves, once they appear on users’ screens after the backroom data has decided what to try and sell them.
“Many other social networks (like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, etc. etc.) started out ad-free, then suddenly switched gears,” its No Ad Policy reads. “They modified their privacy policies, started selling information about their users to data brokers, and bombarded us with ads.”
This switching of gears is what has annoyed many, who now have their social media experiences disrupted by un-subtle and sometimes noisy adverts which can lead to even greater frustration if accidentally clicked on.
Ello believes that “ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we're better without them.”
Thirdly, social media marketers should take note of consumer shifts towards other more private social media platforms.
Services such as Dispora and even WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, offer a sense of privacy between users and their contacts. Ello could be the next step in this protest march away from the armies of data miners.
While the emergence of Ello rightly flags up the need for social media marketing to review the data-driven nature of its methods, there is still plenty of space for genuine B2C interaction.
What should make social media such a cost-effective method of marketing is the way it makes customers feel engaged beyond a sales pitch, whether this be in receiving feedback, sharing non-commercialised content or simply answering a query.
What Ello has done is remind business using social media of the importance to remain human.