For a few glorious weeks last fall, Ello, once dubbed the anti-Facebook, had the kind of media coverage that many tech startups would kill for. Then it seemed to fizzle out just as quickly
The Vermont-based startup took a big step to shape its public perception on Thursday with the hiring of Rene Alegria, the former CEO of Latina-focused website Mamiverse, as its first chief marketing officer. In that role, Alegria intends to better guide Ello’s “narrative” and show “what Ello stands for.” And as he is quick to point out, what Ello stands for has little to do with competing against Facebook.
“The media created this catfight last fall — the catfight amongst social networks — positioning us as the anti,” Alegria told Mashable in an interview. “That’s not what we stand for.”
“What we’re working toward,” he said, “is galvanizing the creative community.”
During the nearly six months since Ello first exploded, the startup continued to add new features, raised funding and doubled down on its promise not to monetize through advertising or by collecting user data.
This spring, Ello expects to launch a mobile app and come out of beta. That, Alegria said, will give the company an opportunity to reintroduce and explain itself as a social network that “merges fun and artistry,” and removes the “fear that what you’re doing is being watched and manipulated by Big Brother.”
Just don’t call any of Ello’s forthcoming messaging “ads.” Unsurprisingly, the ad-free social network has a different conception of its marketing efforts.
“We’re currently not playing with the idea of dropping any ads,” Alegria said. “We are absolutely planning on internal campaigns that capture the spirit of our artist community.”
Internal campaigns, not ads. Got it.
“Really not ads, because we are not going to buy placement for them. But it is marketing our ideals to the world,” he added.
When a service — even a niche, unfinished service like Ello — is mentioned in the same breath as Facebook, it can receive a Facebook-sized spotlight. When it becomes clear that the service is not, in fact, a direct competitor — well, the following chart from Google shows what happens.
But the team at Ello seem fine with that reality.
“We don’t need to have 2 billion people on our network. That’s not our aim or our goal,” Alegria said. “We just want people to get onto the network to experience it now and going forward.”
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