One lesson that I picked up very early on in my journey as an online entrepreneur was that it was in my best interest to stay on top of the “hot” social networks. This is particularly true for bloggers and other Internet marketers who need to maintain a public image and that’s why they say you should be where your readers are. And from a branding perspective, you want to make sure you secure your name.
And one of the hottest new social networks generating all sorts of amazing buzz on the web is Ello. Some people are calling it the anti-Facebook for a number of different reasons and if you want to continue being successful as an online personality, you’ll want to get on board with Ello, just in case. It could be the next Twitter or it could be the next Google Buzz. Remember that?
Ello. Is It Me You’re Looking For?
Two key features differentiate Ello from the overwhelming myriad of other social networks. First, the design is decidedly minimalist, getting rid of as much of the flashy eye candy that you may find elsewhere. It even uses a retro-inspired typeface that reminds me of Courier.
The second differentiating factor, and perhaps the reason why Ello is garnering so much attention, is the ardent commitment to providing an ad-free experience for all users. I’ll get into that a little more in just a moment, but what these two factors mean is that you get a really clean and straightforward interface without all the distractions of multiple links, groups, colors, chat windows, notifications and so on.
Aside from that, Ello functions like most other social networks. You add friends, you gain followers, you post updates (including bold, italics and hyperlinks), and you connect with other users. Ello is in beta and more features will be added as the platform grows and matures.
Setting Up Your Ello Profile
Compared to the mother lode of user data that you find with Facebook profiles, the user profiles on Ello are much simpler in scope. You can update your profile through the settings, which are accessed by clicking on the “gear” icon along the left.
Aside from choosing your username, your Ello profile consists of the following:
- Email (kept private)
- Bio: This is limited to 192 characters. While it doesn’t support formatting or links, it does support line breaks
- Links: You can enter a comma-separated list of your links and this list can be as long as you wish, but only the first few are displayed in your profile without someone clicking to view more.
- Avatar: The profile picture is a circle and they recommend uploading an image that is 340 x 340 pixels.
- Header Image: The recommended image size is 1800 x 1013 pixels. When someone first views your profile, they only see a small sliver from the top of this image. More of the header image is revealed as the user scrolls up the page.
Friends and Noise
On Twitter, you can organize the people that you follow into lists. There is also a grouping feature in Facebook (that people rarely use). Ello simplifies this even further by providing just two categories for the people you want to follow: friends and noise.
The “friends” feed is shown in the first image of this post, while the “noise” feed is shown here. The “friends” feed provides full horizontal space for each update, whereas the “noise” feed is grid-based, similar to Pinterest. The people that you follow will never know whether you’ve put them into the “friends” or “noise” bucket unless, like me, you foolishly post screenshots online.
How Does Ello Make Money?
The people behind Ello have said that the social network will never have any paid advertising whatsoever. They want to keep the site as “pure” as possible. The way they plan on making money is through microtransactions; users can purchase “premium” features on an a la carte basis for a buck or two (or more). Whether this business model is ultimately sustainable remains to be seen, but that’s the direction they plan on taking.
And that’s Ello in a nutshell. Realistically, I’m not terribly excited about it at the moment. The clean interface is certainly different and the current lack of “noise” is refreshing compared to the deluge of updates on Twitter and Facebook. You can find me on Ello as @michaelkwan. Yes, I managed to get my name!