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Say Hi to Ello: 3 Marketing Lessons From the New Social Network

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"Simple, beautiful & ad-free": this is the tagline used by Ello the new social network everybody is talking about. It has no mobile app, it is not really open yet (you just can get in by invitations). Nonetheless, Ello has been able to create a huge buzz. No one knows if it will be a success or just one of many 'wannabes' deleted by collective memory in few months. Analysts call it the anti-Facebook, users call it paradise for privacy and marketers call it possible nightmare. Ello may be not marketing-friendly, but there are 3 lessons you can still learn from it.

Ello is willing to create a more privacy-respecting social environment, not requiring users to give their real name or demographics. With a simple call to action ("You are not a product"), it has already caught the attention of thousands, growing at a rate of almost 40.000 per hour in the first days. Might seem a contradiction, but even companies - small business first in line - are trying to understand what kind of potential audience they could reach. 

The aggressive anti-Facebook campaign and the strong mission statement give us 3 helpful insights:

  1. Know your customer: take note of what people want, put this need at the very hearth of your strategy and deliver it to them the best way you can. Ello manifesto declares that "Your social network is owned by advertisers. Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold". Recent major issues (Apple's iCloud hack everyone?) have brought to light something digital customers really value: privacy. And that's where Ello comes in, shaping its storytelling around the claim that social network should be a tool for empowerment and connection, not a tool to deceive and manipulate.

  2. Be true to yourself: explore your true why, choose your archetype, declare your mission and ideals and shape your content marketing strategy and customer journey starting from these values. Hold true to them even in difficulties. Back to manifesto: "We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them be in partnership". Ello earned influence not with a big budget but with a great idea and a core value customers could relate to. Every marketing action started from that. It may not charm everybody - technologists have already labelled Ello as an unsustainable funding model - but it is winning nonetheless.
  3. Customer experience first: 'simple and beautiful', these are the first two word we read on Ello homepage. Ad-free is the third. In combination, they create something unique: a customer journey where users could really feel free to be themselves, without declaring who they are in real life. Being able to go coherently from mission to actual customer experience is the key to success: Ello is small (invitations-only right now), simply designed, without flaws and beautiful. It also succeeds because it relies on one ancient marketing rule: limiting availability and making users feel chosen and special.
When you need to track clients (we are in the era of big data and beacons, in the end), when you invest in disruptive technologies - such as analytics dashboard - and customer-facing apps, when you shape your digital customer experience, never forget what this small indipendent social networking site is trying to tell us: customers deserve respect. They are, in fact, the single most important factor in the success or failure of your company. 

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Social Networking Content Marketing