Now here’s a phenomenon worthy of a little reflection: Ello, the new advertising-averse social network that sank without trace after its launch in March is suddenly attracting signups faster than the chomp-through rate in a glutton’s doughnut-eating contest. How come?
Ello makes it clear in its manifesto that, unlike virtually every other social network, it doesn’t sell ads, doesn’t sell user data to third parties, doesn’t read posts to friends and doesn’t map social connections for profit, all of which it describes as “creepy and unethical.”
The immediate trigger appears to be an exodus of LBGT users from Facebook after it blocked the use of persona monikers instead of real names (musicians with stage names have also objected). Ello, like Twitter, permits the use of persona names (maybe it’s not connected, but the the surge in its membership followed a tweet about Facebook’s policy from famous drag artist Ru Paul).
It remains to be seen whether the Ello stampede will continue its momentum (according to its co-founder Paul Budniz, it’s currently seeing membership double every 3-4 days). The site is, frankly, stark and basic and privacy controls are minimal (if anyone flames you can’t block them). But in an email to its users Ello claims that these features are in the pipeline.
Is this more than a fit of pique from the LGBT community alone? Many involved in content writing and social marketing will be interested in the answer to that question.
Social media market research expert Alexandra Samuels thinks that it is. In blog for the Harvard Business Review, she points to mounting evidence that more and more people have serious misgivings about how networks are using their data.
She thinks engaging with customers has to be revisited as the primary goal of social media usage; too often, she says, this has degenerated into a ceaseless quest for clicks, mentions and followers. Engaging costumers involves more than making a pitch: Samuels suggests involving them in product development through co-creation, partnering with them to make the products or services they want and convening meaningful conversations on subjects that “resonate with your customers and your brand.”
The jury’s still out at the moment. But the verdict may be that social media marketing is going to need a big makeover.