Well have you heard of Ello? Ello is the latest, invite only, social media network… that most people haven't heard of. Their claim to excellency is simply that there are no ads, and there will never be any ads. Yep, sounds pretty sociable. I sat down with my friends at WBIR to discuss, you can see that here!
I gave Ello a test drive, and my friends not being there aside, there are plenty of other things not to like about the site. First and foremost is the design. It is simple on purpose, but frankly it's a bit elementary. It looks like a cross between Tumblr and Google+, with lots of functionality still under development. We know all this upfront, however, because the site is definitely still in Beta.
So will it knock off Facebook? In a word… No. While I think it is totally possible to unhinge Facebook, just as MySpace was toppled years ago, I think it will require a different strategy then Ello seems to be taking here. Facebook started on a college campus… a small, but very focused market. This ensured a few things; 1) the initial audience was narrow BUT 2) the few people were on it had the possibility of finding people in their direct circle of influence there. So while it was small, people could still find value there as it grew. Once an audience was established, they grew that audience… and grew that audience… and grew that audience. Ello is taking the same "invite only" model that Google+ too initially, and even though you can now basically invite as many people as you'd like… why would you? Great question. I've lost interest already.
The next thing that seems to escape the creators of the site is that, even though they've established themselves as a Public Benefit Corporation, a new for-profit company designation available in the US, they've yet to tell us exactly how they intend to make money… that whole for-profit thing. So while it is totally admirable for them to want to make a social network, free of all the creepy ad models that all the others are now chasing… to keep all those servers running and designers designing… not to mention keep the lights on… at some point, someone has to give you money. So maybe you charge for premium services like LinkedIn has? Maybe you just charge for the service in general? As I point out in the WBIR spot, for a social media site to knock off Facebook, it needs to be orders of magnitude better than Facebook. It can't be somewhat better than, or simply equal to… it must TROMP it. Why? Simply put, it needs to be so much better that I'm willing to invest the time to move my "life" from Facebook, to your new service. Otherwise, I'll simply login, realize that I don't know anyone there, and then go back to Facebook and trying to figure out how to block all those Candycrush invites.