I was speaking with @huckgee recently about why he’s so active on Ello (check out this excellent post for more details about that).
Huck is arguably one of the top two or three most famous toy artists in the world. Huck told me that recently Ello became the largest source of new fans and customers on his web site — more effective than all the other social networks that he’s been using for years, combined.
This past year Facebook and the other ad-based social networks started ramping up its efforts to force artists, musicians, and small businesses — anyone with a fan page — to pay them in order for their followers to see their posts. What’s happened is that after so many people building up large followings of fans, they've pulled a classic bait-and-switch and is now forcing people to pay to reach them.
This means that if you built a big a fan page on Facebook (for example) over many years, no more than 1-2% of your followers will actually see what you post (unless you pay Facebook). Likewise, if you fall in love with an artist, musician, or business and choose to follow them, you’ll at best see a tiny percentage of their posts. Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest are all in different stages of converting to this business model too.
The victims are artists, musicians — anyone with a bunch of followers but no money marketing budget. Posts by small creators are squeezed out in favor of ads and boosted posts by big brands with infinite ad budgets.
This suits big Fortune 500 companies well — with few exceptions, their content on social networks sucked anyway, and making truly interesting stuff when you’re a big brand is challenging. Much easier to pay to force people to see ads instead!
My friend @neil works at a university in Canada and lectures on social media: Neil once pointed out that the worst way for a business to use a social network is to advertise on it. If you’re creative enough, it’s much more effective to work hard making things that people really want see, then build a fan base that is really passionate about what you do.
Pay-to-pay social networks have destroyed this system. Basically, you’re no longer rewarded for being awesome. Instead, it’s all about how much money you’re willing to spend.
Forgive me if what I write next sounds like I'm promoting Ello, but I'm one of the people building this network and I'm proud of what we're doing -- so here goes:
Ello doesn’t sell ads or user data, and there are no algorithms that say who sees what. On Ello, all of the people that follow you can see everything you post, and you see everything that is posted by the people you follow. This is why many people are saying that it's more effective to have 1,000 followers on Ello than 10,000 anywhere else.
It’s also why I believe that it’s inevitable that Ello will keep getting better and better, and ad-driven social networks will get worse. This result is built into the very structure of the networks themselves.
Ad-free means more fun, more beautiful stuff, discussion, and fantastic, creative people joining us every day!