You may or may not have been involved with the hype around the latest social media network to hit the web: Ello. Ello chose an initial campaign, similar to Pinterest back in the day, where they made their site 'invite only' - oh how the masses of internet addicts whelped with FOMO and swarmed to be on this new platform. This blog uses Ello as a case study to argue that viral online marketing is still a powerful tactic that brands can use as a 'live' period to attract users before the momentum dies.
First off, a little insight into Ello in case you aren't familiar with the platform. It is a social network packaged up on a very 'cool' looking website with lots of white space and circles. Its selling point to users is that it doesn't allow advertising and does not aggregate user's personal information. You can decide to either follow your friends or put them in the noise category (nothing like some online controversy) but luckily friends cannot see which category they are in on your profile. You cannot block people as the owners didn't see this as a priority in its current Beta stage.
The facts aside, the success of Ello is not due to its features or usability - quite the contrary considering the multitude of holes in the interface. The appeal of this new social network is that it promises all the hope of something more in the future and something better than what is already out there. That's what the human race is always seeking after all - something new and shiny and better than before. It is this human nature that brands can learn from when trying to create their next viral campaign and their 15 minutes of fame.
There is no doubt that we are living in a society filled with fear, and by that we mean 'Fear of Missing Out'. Ello made the key decision to make their social network 'invite only', counting on the curious nature of humans and their need to be 'the first' to get something. Think of all the Apple lovers queuing through the night to get the iPhone 6 first. Everyone wants to have that ego boost where they know more about something than everyone else. Making Ello VIP immediately got tails wagging for a bite of this new social world.
Facebook has lost the favour of many users recently and it almost feels like users want to jump ship. Ello has monopolised on the irritation of millions of Facebook users and chosen ethics that are the opposite of what Facebook has chosen to do - no advertising, no use of personal data and so on. Do we think everyone will stop using Facebook and turn to Ello? Probably not. But in this early stage of the Ello campaign, they have certainly managed to capture the attention of the masses by offering the things that the crowd wants. They have offered the promise of something more, something better.
Start up businesses and huge corporations alike should be studying this Ello movement closely to see what the user base is looking for. Users online rule the roost and right now there is a sense that users want more - more than Facebook, more than Twitter - something new and different. What satisfaction did they get out of Facebook and Twitter before that isn't there now? Is there too much advertising, too much control? If the user is bored, which it feels like they are right now, how to you get them back?
This Ello experience should encourage all businesses to look at their own brand and weed out the elements that are particularly irksome to their users and plan how to move forward. You want to be the person that disrupts your own technology, not someone else. Blockbuster failed to think forward to the future and online streaming ran away with their business. You should always be thinking 5 or 10 years ahead of yourself. Will Ello derail Facebook? Not likely, but they are having a good go at disrupting Zuckerberg's masterpiece.
What do you think? What other lessons do you think we can learn from the launch of Ello. Are there other ways that hype is created?
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