Why the interest in anonymity & anonymous social media networks?
The concept of online anonymity for social networks is becoming a hot topic with the catalyst being Facebook’s “real-names” policy. Which rules out the use of an alias on Facebook. This latest policy update has upset a host of drag queens and raised the question, is an anonymous social network feasible and what is Ello?
Is an anonymous social network feasible?
The popularity of anonymity showed itself last week when the anonymous router, Anonabox received $300,000 worth of funding from Kickstarter within 48hours. So maybe the same financial support is exists for a start-up anonymous social network?
The underlying principle of a totally anonymous social network has problems. If a new social network were to try and take the space, how would they sell to people that do not want to be sold to? If you strip away all the advertising functionality of Facebook you don’t have any clear way of generating scaleable revenues for big investors and brands.
In terms of social media, Facebook has the edge and any new features would be acquired/implemented by Facebook. For example an anonymous post could be made as an option when posting an update. Another feature based on this could be an anonymous feed.
Is Privacy less of an issue for the majority?
Writing this article and doing a little research, the google trends for news articles for the terms “Social Media” and “Privacy” show us that Social Media is in the news more than Privacy. Is this indicating that our interest in Privacy is less than our Interest in Social Media? At least is shows us what is more newsworthy. Are the groups interested in privacy in social media only a minority compared to everybody else? The answer is yes. However if you group them together it may become marketable,
Google Trends, although not the absolute benchmark at least gives us an indication about the amount of buzz around the subjects. The idea of an anonymous social network may only amount to a niche idea that never gets off the ground. However one new social network that has caught the headlines is Ello. https://ello.co Although currently invite only, we have the inside scoop on the social network that has been getting much attention in the last few weeks.
Is Ello the “anti-Facebook” as regards data privacy?
The following article written by Clive Roach, the Social Media Jedi. Explaining what Ello is and what you needs to know about the social network dubbed the new “anti-facebook”. You can find him on twitter under @jedi_roach & view his blog http://cliveroach.tumblr.com/
What choice do we have? Is it not true that any social network that starts off acting like Ello ends up like Facebook or any other successful social network once it has grown to a critical size and needs to fully engage advertisers and the big brand spenders? Have a read of this Newswork.org blog post which further explores the data security and Ello discussion. Or would you choose to be like Jon Swartz and decide to jump off the Ello bandwagon before it really got started?
What is in Ello? What is it like?
Let’s assume that you still want to read some more about Ello? You have not moved on in disgust at the privacy angle and the ad free and simple design is still enough to keep you interested to learn more. Let’s explore what is in Ello!
It is a very simple interface which took me a while to work things out as there are only limited button labels. It has a refreshing feel, as the interface is free of cluster, and yes, no ads.
One of the first things you notice is that you can group people into two categories, “Friends” or “Noise.” Similar to Google+ circles in that people will only know that you are following them and not which category you put them into. I guess these will have extra functionality in due course.
There is no API so you cannot post into it other than being in it, and you cannot easily share outwards as there are no share buttons. However, you can tweet a link or pin images etc.
Here is a pin I made from Ello. Anyone can view it in Pinterest, but following the link takes you to the Ello social network page which shows a credit to the Ello user who posted the image and a navigation menu with buttons to learn more about what Ello is and the “WTF”, which translates in Ello speak to “Help, About and Policies.”
In the settings section you can fill in your bio, username, links (like blogs etc.) and then there are seven slider button choices like “public or private profile” and lastly the account deletion button.
Selecting the “Say Ello” button is the way to make a post. Had to work that one out.
The discover function allows you to find others to follow.
The feature list section is indeed, one to watch. It lists the built and upcoming features. Features that were added recently are highlighted in green. These “features” could be the way that Ello members start to part with their cash when they start to opt for add paid features. For example, Paul Budnitz has said that the ability to control multiple accounts from a single login might be something that Ello might like to charge for when that feature is available. “We might charge a dollar for that. It would be like the App store.”
Ello is new, fresh, and certainly is flavor of the month. I have seen many tweets saying that it will not be around in a month, maybe gone by Christmas. It has had an injection of venture capital and Paul Budnitz insists that “We are building a profitable company, and that is our goal.” Personal accounts will be all the rage for now, but as we saw with Google+ and Facebook, brands will no doubt have their day at some time… but with no ads we assume. Can that work in the long term? The feature list section does show progress.
Recently added features include these;
- – Views per post.
- – Drag users between Friends & Noise.
- – In-line Emoji integration
- – Option to toggle Google Analytics on/off.
- – Among many others.
Still to come features?
- – User blocking
- – Private accounts
- – iOS & Android mobile apps (so just bookmark or add to home screen)
- – Many more items.
Luckily I had some very nice agency colleagues in London who invited me and thus I could explore Ello. My own approach for “yet another social network” is a new strategy. I created for myself a new persona with a new style and a series of post styles very unlike my other personal strategies for Google+ and others. I suggest that if you start up as a personal account or brand with any new social network, that you also have to find a valid purpose and a differentiation from your strategies that you use in your other networks otherwise you are wasting your time duplicating effort and treating each network as equal. Ello is not yet equal to anything else.
For now, I say, “Hello to Ello….”
Let’s see where this one takes us…..