We talked a lot in other posts about alternative social network, small networks becoming a growing business and start-ups that target specific niches. Now we will talk about the perfect example for everything we have talked about previously and it’s even better because it is like a work in progress social experiment where anything can happen. When I say anything I mean things that will not happen on Facebook.

The Private social network

Let’s start from the beginning. Ello was a private social network made by seven people (artists and programmers) who wanted a safe place to discuss and share their work. Much of what they did worked very well and after one year, in March 2014, they launched Ello to the public who were allowed to join, but only by invitation.

Ello was launched with a manifesto that explained how this particular social network was different from others. Other social networks use users data to earn advertising revenue. Ello will never do that.

This manifesto and Ello’s clear intentions of being really different created a lot of buzz online about how Ello will be ad-free and how they will never track or sell people data. They allow users to use nicknames and don’t have a real name policy like Facebook. This caused the social network to grow rapidly and a lot of people started to call Ello the Anti-Facebook. At the end of 2014 the Company raised 5.5 million of venture capital and in 2015 reached one million users. Users also appreciated the simple and original user experience, the minimalist design, the news feed that shows updates in chronological order and not with some complex algorithm that is used to boost advertisements. On the other hand, these differences do have their critics.

In the meantime, the Company got a business a model based on freemium. You can use a basic (and satisfactory) version for free but you can also buy premium features at low prices.

So we have a nice story about a small group of people making a social network for fun and then launching it successfully to the public after a very short space of time, and they managed to get a rapid growth in the number of users. They also acquired some haters (they usually appear when something is really popular) and huge funding, and we can’t really predict how things may turn out in the future, but for the moment, we have 7 people who created something that’s in the public domain within a year and so far, is working well.

They created a business with a different philosophy behind it. For the moment, they are keeping the social network as something that is “not for everyone”. It is not attracting the mass market due to its minimalist look and the intention to make it very different from other social networks ( people want something new but something they can easily associate with).

The lesson to be learn from Ello is very simple and very important. There is still a lot of space for new social networks projects.