Hello Ello, goodbye Facebook?

People have been predicting the demise of Facebook for years, citing factors like the popularity of Twitter and young people's disillusionment with social media as reasons for the apparently inevitable downfall of the digital giant. However, despite these challenges, the social network is still going strong: with 1.28 billion monthly active users, Facebook is showing no signs of fading.

But could new social network Ello, popularly described as 'the anti-Facebook', be a game changer for social media? Ello, which has taken off over the past week, is an advertising-free network and apparently has no space for brands. Ello's manifesto says of its users "you are not a product", and the people behind the website aim to establish a purer form of online socialising which is free from the interruption of marketing messages. Ello is not just challenging Facebook, but the wider culture in which social media is seen as primarily a vehicle through which brands can talk at consumers, and actual connections between people are deprioritised.


Why has there been such a huge backlash against social media marketing? While consumers are rarely as enthusiastic about other forms of marketing and advertising as brands would hope, there has never been a reaction quite this dramatic against television or print advertising. The founders and advocates of Ello seem unhappy specifically with the role brands play in our online social lives, rather than advertising in general.

However, by creating a social network which is difficult, if not impossible, for brands to infiltrate, the founders of Ello are forgetting one key thing: it's not that consumers don't want to listen to brands. Just last week, Kit Kat's Tweet about the iPhone 'bendgate' scandal went viral, with over 28,000 Retweets and 13,000 Favourites. Consumers are not complaining about brands' social content when it's engaging, or when it's content they actually want to see. Kit Kat's Tweet, like other brand updates that have received above average levels of engagement, was successful because it joined a conversation consumers were already having rather than interrupting one.

While Kit Kat proved that consumers casino online are still interested in what brands are saying online, there are still plenty of social media marketers getting it completely wrong. With Cosmoplitan UK Tweeting about six times an hour and Dorothy Perkins putting kisses at the end of updates, it's not difficult to see why Paul Budnitz and his co-founders lost their patience with brands' social media presence.

Perhaps consumers haven't become disillusioned with other forms of marketing because brands can't afford to get them wrong. Marketers can't spam consumers with television advertising or stop putting effort into writing copy on other platforms simply because it would be too expensive, whereas the low price of digital marketing can lead to laziness. However, although social media is cheap to use, it shouldn't be devalued.

Digital marketers need to think of the consumers' attention spans as currency, adopting the same mentality needed on platforms where there is absolutely no margin for error or laziness. Ello might not gain mainstream popularity, but its existence alone should serve as a warning. Consumers' patience is wearing thin, and Ello has shown us that there are options other than listening to online advertising. Brands need to tread incredibly carefully online- they might not be spending money, but people's patience is far more valuable.