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Were You Invited to Ello? Lessons From a Social Media Outsider

October 9, 2014 Bradford Group Administrator


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When something’s exclusive, it has the power to draw attention and captivate an audience like nothing else. The proverbial grass is always greener on the other side, is it not?

Ello, the latest social media platform, is capitalizing on this desire to want what you can’t have by keeping people arm’s distance away from the next best thing.

If you’re like me and curiosity has led you to Google the website, you’ve read the not-so-subtle “Ello is invite only” greeting, dauntingly located in the center of the page. The exclusive platform reports over 40,000 sign ups and requests every hour.

And no, it’s not advertising that’s generating the buzz. Ironically enough, it’s Facebook – a competitor— that’s operating as Ello’s largest megaphone. Intrigued Facebook users that were invited to Ello are going back to Facebook to post status updates with their commentary on the new platform. It’s become an Ello referral pulpit. While many are painting Ello as anti-Facebook, the burgeoning social media network holds fast to its claim of being an entirely different concept.

  • Ello is ad-free: In the first line of its manifesto, Ello makes it clear that the current standard of social media is no more than a modern billboard.
  • Ello has a minimalist design: The overall look of Ello is clean, simplified and trendy.
  • Ello won’t collect your data: Ello contrasts itself against Facebook’s data-mining reputation. As a website, Ello does collect basic analytics, but even those you can opt out of.

Ello isn’t the first platform to drive attraction through exclusivity. Do you remember when Google+ was invite-only? The site first opened its doors to tech insiders and then allowed them to invite friends. Overnight Google+ had created enough buzz that Google’s VP Gundotra released a statement saying, “We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!”

There’s a method to the madness. For Google+ and Ello, invite-only is more than a clever, strategic way to fuel interest, it’s a technological move. By limiting the amount of early users, Google+ and Ello protected themselves against a site crash.

While only time will tell if Ello will follow in the footsteps of Google+ as a social networking giant, the people behind it have clearly embraced successful tactics we can all learn from to generate buzz and grab the attention of our target audience.

  1. Drive curiosity: Ello has maximized on FOMO (fear of missing out). Instead of taking the traditional, heavy advertising route, geared toward drawing in as many new users as possible, Ello’s marketing structure has flourished because of its exclusive
  2. Understand that timing is everything: The explosion of Ello comes on the heels of Facebook’s latest controversy, which mandates that people use their real identities. Ello used the squabble as an opportunity to distinguish itself by giving users the freedom to choose their display name.
  3. March to a new beat: When Paul Budnitz, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Ello, dreamed up the site, his vision was to create an entirely different social media experience. The creators of Ello embraced revolution by building a social media platform that promises to never treat people like products, a bold move when social media’s biggest names make millions off of advertisements.

Consider these promotion strategies when building a brand:

  • Are there ways to generate natural curiosity about your company?
  • Are there any significant happenings in the industry that have provided a timely opportunity for your business?
  • When you are positioning yourself amongst a host of competitors, what makes you stand out?

Maybe outright exclusion isn’t right for your company or brand, but you shouldn’t be afraid to step out of the box. Not comfortable handling that yourself? It’s kind of our thing. Consider reaching out to us and letting us know how we can help.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to purge your newsfeed of old high school friends without actually purging them, go try out Ello, but hurry, being the “cool, new thing” never lasts long.

Photo Credits: Ello

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