As the founders of upstart social network Ello make their case for an ad-free experience as the rationale for switching from Facebook, brands are already staking their claims.
Some are advising restraint; Contently advises “it’s not a friendly place for brands to play right now; doing so would be the digital marketing equivalent of the Ferguson police chief trying to march in a protest calling for his own resignation.”
But there is no barrier to brands establishing profiles—in fact, there’s not even a real-name policy—and dozens of brands have succumbed to the allure of another place to hang a shingle.
As a caveat, it’s important to note that there’s no way to verify the official nature of any of these accounts, while others are clearly placeholders set up by brands to avoid the rampant squatting already in full swing (with brands like Pepsi and Facebook among those that have been brandjacked, along with Tesla Motors, which looks legit until you notice the URL, which leads to a nonexistent site, notreallytesla).
Still, it seems obvious enough when a real brand has staked a claim—mainly because they use the company’s legit URL. And despite the warnings to stay away, the anti-Facebook zeitgeist Ello has tapped into is based on the collection of personal data designed to target ads that are pushed at you, not at the presence of brands.
Alexandra Samuel, social media VP for Vision Critical, wrote in a Harvard Business Review blog post, “Just because advertisers are unwelcome on some parts of the social web, that doesn’t mean businesses are necessarily unwelcome, though: consumers simply want businesses to engage with them in some way that goes beyond a pitch.”
This makes Ello a venue for experimentation by brands, something I advocate for most new social services. (Why aren’t you asking questions yet on Jelly yet? General Eletric was there within days of its launch!) Just be sure those experiments are based on building relationships and providing great experiences, not selling. Ello could, for example, be a good place to focus on the bottom of the marketing funnel, where your existing customers and brand advocates reside.
If you still think brands are unwelcome on Ello, be sure to check out the last one of the examples of brands on Ello below:
The connected speaker company has set up a placeholder; no posts yet.
Twitter’s first Ello post was the announcement of new profiles on Twitter for iPhone. Second was an explanation of Twitter’s presence on Ello: “Here to check out the competition.” Third was a shout-out to Facebook on Ello (which is a fake profile; Facebook hasn’t, as far as I can tell, set up shop on Ello yet).
Two test posts so far, both purely promotional in nature. The account has attracted only four followers.
Note that Netflix’s profile image is an ad, just not one they’ve paid for, nor one they’re pushing at people. You only see it if you visit the profile and pull down the profile image.
It’s no surprise to see SHIFT Communications on Ello; between Todd Defren, Chris Penn, and Scott Monty, there’s enough smarts at SHIFT to understand the value of experimentation on new platforms. A few posts are up, mostly testing Ello’s capabilities.
The only other PR agency I could find, Burson’s profile is nothing more than a placeholder at this point, with nothing shared.
The Wall Street Journal is actively publishing to Ello, using images in some cases to link to the newspaper’s “Short Answer” series, in other cases sharing summaries of articles with links to the Journal website. The News Corp. publication has even shared an emoji cheat sheet.
Another media organization seeing an opportunity to attract clicks through to its site. It’s also the only brand profile I’ve seen so far with no profile image.
That last one is particularly important to note, given it’s the company owned by Paul Budnitz, Ello’s founder and chief anti-ad advocate. If Budnitz thinks having a business profile on Ello is okay, why shouldn’t anybody else?
Keep in mind, you still need an invitation—they’re going for up to $100 on eBay—to set up an account.