Ballparking Ello's active user statistics
Looking at the newly-created "Love" feature, other post metrics, and follower counts, we can come up with some sense of the size and activity of the Ello community.
TL;DR: Ello probably has about 6-10k daily actives viewing content, ~60-80k monthly, likely around 200k current active profiles looking over the past 3 months, and a low few million total accounts.
Founder Paul Budnitz (@budnitz) has seen 175 "loves" on his recent post ... about Ello's new "love" feature.
Current stats for that post as I write this are:
- Age: 15h
- Views: 7.1k
- Comments: 54
- Love: 175
- Repost: 20
This gives us an indication of overall site activity.
@budnitz is likely one of the most-followed profiles on Ello (@ello wears the crown -- all users initially follow it). For Paul, we've got 7.1k views, and 175 loves, in 14 hours. Based on 297,938 followers.
That's a 3% "engagement" rate per view, which sounds low, but is actually really high by online standards. Paul's also netting about a 2% views rate from among his followers, again, that sounds low, but online, any traction is a challenge. Engagement activities per follower is lower: 0.08%. Believe it or not, that's still good compared with other sites.
Ms. Blain's Engagements
We can compare that with an example of engagement from a G+ post noted last year.
Alex Schleber, one of my fellow Plussologists, looked at the case of Amanda Blain, a more popular G+ profile. Her notables:
- 4,081,081 followers
- 136 reshares per post
- 117 comments per post
- 845 +1's per post
(As of July 10, 2014).
Updating that information as of today (June 3, 2015), she has 4,729,275 followers and 220,474,044 views as reported by G+.
Views Per Follower
The social relevance folks like to tout a metric, "VPF", or views per follower. For Ms. Blain, that number is 46.6.
That is, of her 4.7 million followers, across all her posts, she nets just 46 views per follower. Not per post, but for all posts, ever.
Think about that.
Google doesn't give us a per-user post count, unfortunately. But for all of her 2014 followers, the "active engagements" rate on the post highlighted above was 0.027%. Paul Budnitz's per-follower Ello engagement is 3x better.
Or, if I was in marketing: Ello has a 310% advantage in per-follower engagements compared to Brand G!
Now, some of the engagement math comes of necessity. The fewer followers you have, the higher your VPF statistic. Mine runs around 650, or 14x better than Ms. Blain, on G+, though with just north of 2,300 followers. It's simple reality: there are only so many posts a person can view per day, time is the ultimately limited resource, a there's going to be some rationing system in effect, whether it's intentional or incidental. Lower follower counts usually mean a greater personal relationship per follower.
On Ello, with 858 followers presently, I routinely see posting view counts at or above 50%, and not infrequently at several multiples of that. High-water mark to date has been my Estimating G+ User Activity post, which was linked in a few press reports, presently showing 13.7k views. With reshares inside and/or outside Ello, I've seen several posts hit 1-5k views.
Ballparking Ello actives by views of high-exposure accounts and posts
The @ello account is followed by all users, by default, though you can unfollow it. Still, views of @ello posts should give a pretty good sense of how many people are logged on to and viewing Ello over a given time period.
Looking at roughly month-old Ello posts, we see view counts in the 50-70k range,
| Age | Views | Post |
| ---:| -----:|:---- |
| 30d | 52.7k | Post |
| 1mth | 61.1k | Post |
| 1mth | 62k | Post |
| 1mth | 63.9k | Post |
| 1mth | 65k | Post |
| 1mth | 60.3k | Post |
| 1mth | 60.5k | Post |
| 1mth | 60.2k | Post |
Extending out to 2 months, some counts exceed 100k views, though they cap out under 180k.
| Age | Views | Post |
| ---:| -----:|:---- |
| 2mth | 174k | Post |
| 2mth | 140k | Post |
| 3mth | 166k | Post |
Casting a slightly broader net, the @wtf help page shows 564k views. Individual subpages are generally in the 10s of thousands, FAQ (233k) and Tips (133k) high-side exceptions.
The About Ello page has 5.59 million views, though that's more likely to include non-Ello users. Sub pages range from 1.63 million ("What is Ello") to 53.6k ("The People of Ello").
That suggests something on the order of 6-10k daily users at least viewing posts, 50-60k monthly, and perhaps 170 - 200k current active Ello profiles.
Applying the 90/9/1 rule, perhaps 2 million total accounts created. That's a very rough number.
We can get some more sense of scale from Ello's communities. These must be explicitly subscribed to, so are a fair indication of intentionality, and engaged users. Counts are all pretty modest, mostly three-figure followers, a few crack 1,000. These aren't thousands, these are followers, full count.
| Community | Followers |
|:------ | --------:|
| GIFs | 452 |
| Jewelry | 122 |
| NSFW | 452 |
| Science | 887 |
| Whiskey | 519 |
| Architecture | 1736 |
| Backcountry | 296 |
| Books | 164 |
| Brewing | 487 |
| Cars | 584 |
| Cooking | 819 |
| Crafting | 578 |
| Dadaism | 23 |
| Dance | 44 |
| Design | 306 |
| Drag | 185 |
| Events | 190 |
| Fashion | 702 |
| Film | 640 |
| Graffiti | 230 |
| Green | 616 |
| Languages | 253 |
| Latino | 32 |
| Literature | 64 |
| Lucid Dreams | 41 |
| Motorcycles | 369 |
| Music (general) | 1279 |
| Music (Ambient) | 355 |
| Music (Electronic) | 806 |
| Music (Hip Hop) | 327 |
| Music (Trip Hop) | 203 |
| News | 73 |
| Photography | 2650 |
| Poetry | 97 |
| Postal History | 11 |
| Roller Coasters | 252 |
| Snowscate | 95 |
| Sports | 220 |
| Stickers | 363 |
| Street Art | 358 |
| Tech | 569 |
| Travel | 1227 |
| Typography | 111 |
| Wine | 95 |
| Writing | 863 |
| Yoga | 573 |
| Zen | 713 |
Props for keeping it classy: nearly twice as many science as smut followers.
For those who miss their Statistics 101 days, some univariate moments:
| Moment | Value |
|:---- | -----:|
| n | 47 |
| sum | 22031 |
| min | 11 |
| max | 2650 |
| mean | 468.74 |
| median | 355 |
| sd | 488.61 |
| %-ile | Value |
|:---- | -----:|
| 5 | 27.5 |
| 25 | 122 |
| 75 | 616 |
| 95 | 1507.5 |
Ello Posting Activity ... n/a
I don't have a good sense of post counts, though sitemaps might provide that.
For now, views and followers data gives a sense of size and largely confirms my hunches to date.
And, for historical comparisons, this compares with Google+ releasing in July, 2011, with 10 million profiles. It had grown to 250m by the following year, and now sits at 2.5 billion, though the vast majority of those are likely registrations for other Google services, or Android devices. The actual G+ engagement per nominal user has always been rather on the low side.
For historical growth of G+ profiles, see: http://plus.miernicki.com/
Yes, Ello has a small social graph. But you knew that.
If you're on Ello to maximize your social reach, you're in the wrong place. If you're interested in seeing how this community develops, and helping, you're going to do better. But for now, it's not a numbers game.
I am seeing signs of growth generally -- my posts typically weren't breaking 100 views as of late last year, they're consistently above that and hitting four figures at times now.
I really like the features Ello offers. Embeds, images, and Markdown, especially. I would prefer that the site's style wasn't quite so stark, and have dressed it up a bit myself: distinguished headers, and some other odds and ends. And supporting proper blockquotes would be really nifty. Still, of the primary alternatives I've got available to me, if I want to post long-form content with graphics, headers, tables, bullets, and lists, it's about the best thing going (that's why I posted the G+ activity report here, and why I'm doing likewise for this one).
With a bumpy start (and vastly more interest than they'd anticipated), the Ello team have been deploying well-thought-out features at a really impressive clip. And I want to emphasize both sides of that: the rate of delivery is quite good, and they're not deploying misfeatures which have to be withdrawn later -- Google+ has been doing a lot of feature-culling of late. "Measure twice, cut once" applies very much in system design and architecture.
For all that though: features do not make a social network. Users do. And with a small social graph, finding other ways for those user to connect is crucial.
Mind: not getting the features right will hurt (and that's part of what went wrong with G+).
I still think that one of the most valuable services done for Ello was @joshconstine's Techcrunch article on Ello, on which I've commented.
Here’s the problem. Beating Facebook at its own game is like punching a wall 1.35 billion bricks thick. The network effect of its critical mass means you can’t usurp it by being a little better. The only social apps to really succeed since its launch have tried to go around Facebook’s wall by being different.
Ello have demonstrated some genius. It created curated communities with virtually zero code investment, simply by declaring a distinct set of accounts, "Communities". Its use of unified reposts means that all users who comment on or re-share an Ello post are engaged in the same conversation. That concentrates and banks the social heat rather than splitting it, a good thing.
But what will help Ello is nailing the technicals and figuring out just how it can do "different".
The good news: If you want to reach the highest portion of the people who are actually following you, Ello's quite the good bet. Yes, total reach is small, but reach within that group is good.
The conversational dynamics are good and improving, generally.
Drawing back in the crowd of interesting people who'd flocked to Ello initially would be a Good Thing. That's a standing challenge of mine to the Ello team.
Being a place where global thinkers are discussed, or better, want to discuss, would be a real plus.
For now, I'm trying to be the content I'd like to see here. We'll see how that works.