"We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.
You are not a product." -- from the ello manifesto.
Will ello succeed? It will probably be up to you.
Going through my ello feed this morning a post by @licalee stood out. http://goo.gl/F5yvIg The post describes the feeling of seeing a friend almost leave ello.
These are the early days of ello -- from my American perspective, the wild west, the great frontier. Those hacking on ello have set out with the most audacious of goals and ambition.
The business interests aligned against this small team in Vermont are more powerful than you may realize. Billions of potential dollars are at stake. Literally. Billions. These interests are just starting to wake up to ello. You saw the power yesterday when Facebook took time out of their very busy Facebook day to meet with a bunch of drag queens (oh the beautiful things that drag queens can accomplish!) and change their real names policy. This, after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg dismissed a journalist's question about ello earlier saying she'd never tried it.
So what does all this have to do with you? Everything. You see, changing the rules of the multi-billion-dollar social networking space doesn't just happen. Big, bold shifts are rare. Friendster to MySpace. MySpace to Facebook. So many more have tried and failed.
There's only one person alive who can make ello succeed. You. And you. and you. and you, you and you. Do you want to live your life online with ads pushed in your face and photos the size of business cards so that they don't compete with the ads? Or do you want something way better. Are you having a fun time here? Then it's up to you to keep this party going.
What I'm suggesting, is that each of us begin to think about our individual roles in this bigger community going forward. You are not just a passive consumer of content here. You are part of a something much bigger than that. You are a rare breed, the 1% of the 1% (if I did my math right with ello cracking to top 1,000 on alexa this morning http://goo.gl/0WFhny).
If you want ello to succeed then YOU need to pick up your game.
What can you do?
(1) Encourage those following you on other social networks to be a part of your new world here. If you like ello, share your enthusiasm for it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+, Flickr, Tumblr, 500px, wherever it is you hang out. Point them here. Even if you're not active there anymore, leave them a forwarding address.
Blog about ello. Tweet about ello. Share relevant posts about ello. Jump into the comments on posts where ello's being discussed and share your perspective.
Help educate the journalists and bloggers whose first reaction may be to knock something they've never really tried or participated in. Much more of this will be coming in the days ahead. I love journalists, but sometimes they get things so wrong.
(2) ello is RAW. There will be bugs and flaws and things that need fixin'. While you may be patient, much of the world is not. Keep things positive on ello. Recognize the word beta and that a small team is doing everything they can. Those other sites have thousands of highly paid engineers working on them. For some, their first impression of ello may be a bug and they may never digg deep enough to see the beauty. Bring those people back. Help them along like @licalee The platform will get better on a daily basis I'm convinced.
(3) Talk ello up IRL and even set up accounts for your friends and family here. One of the significant hurdles ello will face will be getting your friends and family plugged in.
The rest of the world is not like us, the 1% of 1% online. The rest of the world is skeptical and suspicious of change. They distrust new things. They don't want "yet another social network" to have to participate in. It doesn't matter how many things they read about it, they simply will not come unless you, someone they really know and trust, bring them. Only you can do that, that's on you.
(4) Make some new friends. Have you ever walked into a party and it's buzzing, and everybody's talking and you just sort of stand there, unsure what to do next? Self conscious, out of place a bit. That's what ello might feel like for someone new, before they've really settled in. If you see that person, reach out to them. Say hi.
I've met some really cool people on the web over the years (and some not so cool people too unfortunately). These people all started out as strangers. For some it was the early days of groups on flickr that brought us together. For others, a comment on a blog somewhere morphed into an in person IRL encounter on a photowalk.
If you see someone new following you without any friends or comments, drop by and say something friendly. You have no idea how much that might be valued and appreciated -- how much you might make someone's day.
Ello is an interesting experiment. It may succeed, it may not succeed. The first 1% is a pretty significant hurdle, the next hurdle will be even harder though and that's going to take more work by everyone here. I don't know about you, but I'm planning on doing my part and looking forward to the next celebration when ello cracks the top 100.