Facebook Faces Another Challenge: Ello – The Ad Free Social Network
With Facebook grasping 57% of the market share, followed by Google+ at 24% and Twitter at 12% as of Q3 2014, you would probably think there was no window for any other social media to make an entrance into the market. However, one social media platform is making headlines: Ello.
Ello was launched in March 2014 and has been rapidly gaining popularity among users, as much as by the end of September, 31,000 people were joining the site per hour.
Why is this site selling like hotcakes? Ello claims it is different than Facebook in the sense that it does not sell ads or data to third parties.
The site states that “collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical. Under the guise of offering a “free” service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy”.
With the NSA scandal jostling the whole foundation of Internet and especially social media sites, users have become increasingly skeptical about sharing personal information on the web.
The fear of data being sold, along with Facebook’s excessive and uninvited sponsored stories and advertisements, is forcing people to jump onto Ello. However, similar to the invite system of OnePlus One, Ello can only be joined by people who have been invited to Ello.
The magnitude of the desperation of people to share personal data securely can be measured by the fact that Ello invites are offered for sale on Ebay!
Anything that users post on Ello is visible on and off the network. In case you do not want to continue using the service, you can delete your account, though data might remain on servers after that.
One feature that adds to the privacy factor is the feature of opting out of Google analytics. This means that neither Google nor Ello will be able to trace your saved information back to you unless you’re using a Chrome browser or Android device.
Ello is completely free to use. With no subscription fees, and no revenue generation from ads, one might wonder how it will manage to grow and buy the necessary infrastructure for that.
Many businesses are now conducted over the social network these days. Brand and companies contact their customers with their offers and events through their social profiles. Ello allows brands to market their business and has no restrictions against them.
One way is by offering parts of the service at a price. It asks for users’ support by buying “special features” such as the ability to customise your interface. It will ask for a “very small” amount of money to add features to your Ello account “forever”.
However, such a small amount of money is not substantial enough, especially when it is growing at such a fast rate. The company might cash in a little $$$ with affiliate partners, and has already managed to attract funding of $435,000 in Equity funding, and expects $315,000 from Fresh Tracks Capital.
Ello acknowledges that other social networks “like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, etc.” started out ad-free, then suddenly “switched gears”. But the founders say that they are not interested in ruling the world and becoming billionaires.