My absolute favorite days working here at Inflow often include emails CC’d to the whole staff with subject lines like “Evil Social Networks,” which is exactly what happened recently.

So today, please enjoy this roundtable of sorts. In real life it was actually the team sitting in their offices and sending emails to folks one office over. And really you wouldn’t have it any other way when discussing a new “social” network, would you?





Despite coming from the ironic office millennial hipster, I thought this was a pretty interesting concept. If it’s successful, how will that affect advertising via social networks? Wasn’t this Zuckerberg’s original mindset?


Diaspora was also created in reaction to the outrage over how Facebook uses content. Four years on, it only has 1 million users.

Maybe it’s just the grizzled old social marketing veteran in me speaking, but I wish people stopped talking about social networks and trying to come up with competitors to Facebook. It’s not even just a social network anymore – it’s a form of communication and managing relationships, discovering new content and products to consume, an influence and recommendation platform, etc. No one is ever going to displace what Facebook has created until they can be as ubiquitous and manage to change the way people live their lives and communicate with each other.


Super valid argument, Jo. What I find interesting though is Ello’s focus on aesthetic/design layout and how it’s run by artists. I think Ello is trying to be all about reducing ‘noise’ in general, rather than just liberation from ads.

It could even be as simple as the network’s name that wins users over: Ello vs Diaspora

Look at the iPhone 6 Plus. A marginal amount of people were jumping on board with massive Android/Windows phones, but now the iPhone 6 Plus debuts and everyone is scrambling to get their hands on a phablet to jam in their pocket. I believe that hype, aesthetic and, most of all, social perception are key with breaking the Facebook mold – and I believe Ello might be on the right track with all of these.



Is there such a thing as a “grizzled old social marketing veteran”??? That’s like a 10 year old with a grey beard, LOL.



jo_circleThat’s exactly what I feel like. I couldn’t grow a beard if my life depended on it. Thanks for rubbing it in, Dan. Still, you’ve got nothing on this dude.




Plus he has a wand.


Niche networks are great and they’ll find users that will feel at home. But they wojo_circlen’t displace dominant networks unless they are so disruptive and can offer a vastly different set of benefits or experiences that the most popular platform already offers. That’s the key.

Friendster -> MySpace -> Facebook -> ???


Friendster > MySpace > Facebook > MyFace!


that was a grrrrrrreeeeat episode.




I suppose Ello’s benefit aside from no ads is less noise and to see if that will be enough to stay afloat – I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Haha!


Thread Awesomeness Level – 98.

I do like Jo’s points about how Facebook is more than just a social network and it would have to take a total paradigm shift, like a new way of communicating online, in order for it to be overtaken. That’s not out of the realm of possibility though, like someone making virtual reality cool again. It is also the same reason why Google isn’t going anywhere any time soon. They’re way more than a search engine. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of room for competition among the various niches and margins of any number of spaces in which Facebook or Google compete.


Following up on this earlier conversation. Article published today in The Guardian casually mentioned this bit among all of the praises for the positive features that distinguish Ello from Facebook.

Basically, Ello is not going to be the altruistic social network that is out to undo everything Facebook has created. “Evil” can be manifested in various ways 🙂

Todd Berger (co-founder) told the Guardian that the plan was to roll out a system where users pay to add features – including, he said, privacy features – at some point in the future. “Privacy comes at a cost,” he said, “and some of our enhanced privacy features will come with fees.”


That blows and hopefully doesn’t cripple them after the warp speed gear they’ve been in. We’ll see if people are willing to pay for security or not…I doubt it. But if that does work out for them, and more people than not have invested in privacy, I wonder how advertising will adapt. People were apparently willing to pay for invites, I suppose they’d be willing to pay for privacy. It’s quite a blunt business model, but apparently they weren’t expecting this kind of success (despite the $500k investment).


I’m not put off by the concept of paying for privacy/security. I think it actually makes sense. These companies spend millions to create these social networking platforms and they need to make money. People need to realize that. Now more than ever, advertising is run on demographic data, and that’s social network platform’s ticket to profits. If users want privacy, then they should either not use the social networking platform or have the option to pay for privacy. But, as Michael said, we’ll see if people actually end up paying for security. It might take a while as many people still assume everything on the internet should be free. It’s kind of like magic!


vallano_circle copyMy understanding of the features were not “pay us or we’ll sell your soul” but simply added features that people can pay for, such as not being tracked by Google Analytics:

From the article: To the best of our knowledge”, the site says, “this also makes what you do on Ello useless to Google for advertising purposes.” Ello’s team also say they aim to make it easy for users to opt-out of all data collection and sharing if they choose.”

I saw these dudes give a presentation about Ello and they’d rather shave their facial hair than sell out for advertising.

Paying for not having ads is something Pandora and Spotify have figured out. It may or may not work for Ello, but we’ll see.

Happy paying customer of Spotify here. #effads


Couldn’t have said it better myself. #wortheverypenny



I don’t pay for Spotify.


I don’t like ads on music services, but I do like ads on social networks. It’s not just the marketer in me speaking, but I like what Facebook has built because I am actually getting advertisements that are relevant to my interests. Sure, most of the time I don’t care about it, but I’ve also discovered some really great companies and services that I wouldn’t have if not for finding them on Facebook. I personally like the idea of a future that involves advertising that is relevant to me. I know most people freak out about thinking that way, but I’m OK with it.

This is a refreshing change from growing up in the 80s and 90s getting plastered with anything and everything on TV that I didn’t care for and absolutely hated because it kept me from getting back to my favorite shows. Or having my eyes violated by unsightly billboards and direct marketing via snail mail that I just toss out (which still happens).



To my husband’s dismay, I found the most amazing shopping site via a Facebook ad over the weekend. (Keith, let’s chat!)

I appreciate ads. But I also don’t pretend that social channels are anything other than ad platforms. Pins lead back to sites that cash in on page views, Tweets build brands or personal brands, etc. IG is throwing in sponsored stuff now like weeds ruining my photo garden (that’s what Garance Dore called it).

Pippit was supposed to be #adfree (except for native advertising in pips) but then it just sucked. Way to go, Joy. Path was gonna change my life, then it sucked, too and I just dual shared on Facebook because that was a built-in option (why?). And on and on.

While I’m excited about Ello and just checking it out, I realize that they accepted an ishton of VC dollars which likely means an exit plan is already in place to sell. So whatever, Imma enjoy it while it’s shiny and new. Plus, I promise I’ll find a way to leverage Ello to make money for my personal blog. Because, no soul, folks.

Oh, and The Rock friended me on Ello, so I guess I a pretty big deal there already.

I don’t pay for Spotify either. For a few reasons a) I’m cheap; b) I already own all those Madonna albums already; and c) I have a 3-year-old, so I can block out ads when I want to just like I can block out the constant drone of “mom, mom, mommy, mom…”


Ello isn’t a game changer, but the public rush to Ello is pretty strong evidence of severely pent-up public demand. The website is unattractive, and the functionality is rickety. They were just lucky enough to get in front of the demand at the right time. After using it for a couple of days, it’s clear that if they let everyone in who wanted on Ello, the software would probably implode.

Signing up for Ello, I was like…


If Ello is going to be the one that satisfies the public demand, it’s going to need a lot of work.

That was pretty much it from the team. Soon a email from the big man floated into my inbox and I think for the inbound marketer, it’s probably one of the greater contemplations when it comes to Ello. The subject: Read This.

Brands, we need to resist the urge to ruin it for everyone.

So what the Ello do you think? Just a trend or is this a true change? Extra points for proof of your own facial hair in your argument.