You say ello, and I say goodbye: A lesson in social media distraction

ello-owdy-social-distraction‘Ello friends, or should I say ‘owdy?

Today’s article is about focus in a time of distraction, whether it be with WordPress, social media marketing, or life itself.

And it’s been prompted by the arrival of a new social network, Ello.

This might end up being a great case study in navigating the ever-changing online landscape.

What is Ello?

Ello is a new social network that is being talked about by practitioners in the social media realm.

It is stark, bare, and is promising to be different from Facebook and the like where your presence and activity creates a product the social networks can sell to advertisers.

Here is what Ello proclaims:

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.

Ello claims it will remain ad-free and never sell your data, instead hoping to raise money by creating some premium features in the future.

What is Owdy?

I do admire the internet for making it cheap and fast for satirists to share their observations.

One such example is Owdy.

Owdy is not a real network but rather a spoof of Ello. It claims:

Owdy is a groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, next-level social network game changer built on the premise of synergistic user-centric arrogance. Owdy knows you don’t give a &^%$ about what your friends post, so Owdy doesn’t let content get in the way of what truly makes for a good social experience: rushing to get your username before everybody else and re-defining who your friends are. Don’t have any friends? No problem – OWDY is the only social network that lets you friend yourself!

What I love about Owdy is that it is making a timely, ’emperor’s new clothes’ observation of social networking culture.

As much as I love social networking (because I love having access to ways of connecting with people I want to learn from, share with and ‘network’ with), there is always a danger of falling in love with falling in love with each shiny new toy that gets unwrapped.

The same thing happens in web development. People get tempted away from WordPress, only to return when they realise they had fallen for the ‘grass is greener’ conundrum.

Owdy draws our attention to this. But I want to draw our attention to a different point.

The social networking space is full of Sirens – stay focussed on your goals

While social networking types rush around sharing invitations to Ello and exploring the new tool on the block, what should we do if we’re using social networks to conduct marketing?

My advice is to fish where the fish are while keeping a weather eye on the changing landscape.

What this boils down to is:

  • Don’t get overwhelmed by the appearance of new gadgets and social media channels
  • Refer to your marketing strategy (what are your objectives, why are you using social networking tools, who are you targetting, how are you enriching their lives when they interact with you?)
  • Keep your shoulder to the social wheel so you don’t abandon your connections in established social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ or YouTube
  • If you’re naturally curious with time on your hands OR you are selling to social networking ‘experts’ then, yes, investigate Ello today, but otherwise, you have plenty of time before this crosses into mainstream

The social media landscape is littered with failed attempts at dislodging Facebook and Twitter, including MySpace (is it dead yet?) and Plurk (remember that one, no, oh …), to cite just a couple of examples.

Social media is media

I think the pertinent thing for business people to keep in mind is that we should not be surprised social networking sites monitor usage to sell data to advertisers.

They are just new media models, just like TV, radio stations and newspapers study their audiences so they can ‘sell them’ to advertisers.

If anything, the revenue streams mean these networks have a future.

And understanding human nature (we are creatures of habit), I think it will be a while before the big players get knocked off their perches while they continue to give people enough of the experience they want.

I can’t see Ello gaining mainstream traction. It might create a little niche following but it has a lot of inertia to fight against and, as Metcalfe’s Law explains, networks have no value until there are enough, desired connection opportunities within them (that’s my paraphrasing).

In other words, a phone is useless until you have somebody to call.

And until that time, you’ll be hanging on the line, whispering, ‘Ello? Ello? Is anybody there?’



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