Ello logo

If you’ve been hanging around the internet the last few days, you’ve likely gotten wind of the budding social network called Ello. If not, here’s a quick summary from the network’s website:

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.”

The network is currently in its beta launch, so there are still lots of features yet to be built out. It’s invite-only at this point, which is probably to keep the user base manageable while they ramp up. But I can’t help but be reminded of the viral buzz created through Gmail’s invite-only early strategy…Either way, probably a smart move by Ello’s creators.

Email from Ello

Ello has been referred to a lot in the past few days as “the anti-Facebook” due to its ad-free brand promise and the recent #MyNameIs campaign calling out Facebook for their real-name policy. In Ello’s company manifesto, they throw serious shade at today’s popular social networks for centering their strategies on advertising, saying that in the eyes of those networks “you are the product that is being bought and sold.”

While Ello’s creators are certainly not the first to take issue with the advertisement and data mining that goes on with most big social networks today, it is certainly refreshing to see someone proposing a workable alternative. Most of the people who rant and rave a lot about how Facebook litters their News Feeds with ads are the same ones who were enraged at the rumors that Facebook might start charging for their services. People with this mindset forget that Facebook is not, as we’ve said before, a non-profit charity organization. If you like using something, someone has to pay eventually.

Ello homepage

Ello’s delightfully transparent solution? A freemium business model. In a nutshell, freemium means that a service’s most basic features are free of charge, and they serve as an acquisition tool for their paid products. If you are lucky enough to get an Ello account, you will (they assume) integrate the service into your life. Once you’ve passed that threshold, you are more likely to pay incremental fees along the way in order to access better features within the product you are already using.

The beauty is that not everyone has to pay in order for this to work – the most engaged users who do see the value will essentially finance the service for the free users. It is through this business model that Ello plans to keep their promise of never selling your data to advertisers, and never cluttering your feed with ads.

Ello features

So why are we telling you, the small business marketer, about this new ad-free network? First of all, so that you can go ahead and request an invitation, which you can do here. That way, you’ll already be ahead of the game if Ello does take off. If it doesn’t, no harm done. Since Ello is an ad-free platform, the only way for businesses to leverage it is really for branding and awareness. Since Ello’s vibe is creativity and ingenuity, think about how you could present yourself here in the future as the face of whatever business you’ve created. From that place, you can engage with other creators, entrepreneurs, and like-minded people in ways that will create transparency and relatability for your company’s brand going forward.

Not ready to commit? You can always just go play with the Ello Facemaker.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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