Facebook is quite the polarizing topic.

From privacy concerns to deciding what content to show and not show you, Facebook is a lightning rod for criticism. What once started as a social network that expressed it will never have ads or charge users to be on the network, Facebook has made a sharp 180, since becoming a public company. Advertising units are everywhere and driving success for Facebook, brands everywhere are up in arms about the lack of organic reach (something I covered before), to even the users being upset over privacy and deciding what content they are ‘allowed’ to see. Add in the fact that Facebook’s latest advertising platform (Atlas) follows you around the internet and gives advertisers your real name and specific information, and you have alot of negative dialog about the social giant.

Enter Ello

Ello-screenshotEllo is a barebones, ad-free social network whose minimalist look and anonymity has its users singing its praises. Unlike Facebook, Ello doesn’t ask or show your real name. This brings back memories of MySpace where you could create an alter-ego and troll your friends. Ello doesn’t have unique ways of organizing your friends, like Twitter or Google+. What you get with Ello is an unfiltered, non curated social network experience in which you control what you want to see. If you are unhappy seeing constant messages from a certain friend, you eliminate them from your list. It is that simple. (not to say you couldn’t do that on Facebook but the Facebook politics get in the way)

Taking a page out of Twitter’s playbook, Ello allows you to mention (@) other members, as well as post photos, and written content (with no character limitation).

One thing that Ello does NOT have is a ‘Like’ button. Yep, the socially accepted form of showing allegiance to a piece of content or image is absent from Ello. However, that feature appears to be coming soon.

Ello allows you to filter your own news stream. It has two ‘settings’ known as ‘Friends’ and ‘Noise.’ Friends operate exactly like Twitter in that you see everything that person posts. Noise is much more like Instagram or Pinterest where you see a very noisy stream of content, but is built for quick consumption.

Ello has been deemed the anti-Facebook. The currently invite-only social network has been garnering droves of attention both domestically and internationally. Even recently, Ello’s founder stated they were receiving 45,000 requests an hour to join their network. Yes… that is 45,000 an hour!! Also known as a million people a day. At this rate, Ello will become a social giant very quickly.

So, will Ello Kill Facebook?

I think it is way too early to tell, but the popularity of Ello can’t be ignored. People have been seeking a social network in which they have more control over what is shared, and what is visible to the public. Ello does all of that and allows you to really own your content and stream.

While Ello says today that there will NEVER be any ads or sharing of data, I remain skeptical as we have heard that many times before. (I am looking at your Zuckerberg).

What Ello represents is a potential pivot for Facebook to allow users to better control what is displayed publicly and sold to advertisers.

What do brands need to know?

Right now, I find it difficult for brands to really market through this network. With the constant influx of users and the anti-advertising war cry from each one of those users, promotional messages will not be received very well. Another way of saying, do not hop on Ello and start spamming the world. But this echoes what we are doing today with the clients we manage social media for. Overly promotional messages and push marketing are a one way ticket to get yourself filtered out of the newsfeed by EdgeRank. As always, using social media as a way to augment your message and communicate with consumers in real time is the best way to attract and retain customers.

Ello is no different and while still in its nascent stage, if Ello gains lasting power, marketers will need to understand how their consumers interact and use this platform accordingly.