Hello Ello: Is the Latest Social Network for You?By Eleanor Pierce

You may have heard of the latest and greatest social network, Ello.

If you spend time in certain online circles, you may believe that everybody and their mother is either on Ello, wants to be on Ello, or is thinking about getting on Ello.

It has a cute name and it’s certainly garnering plenty of attention in social media circles.

This is despite the fact that the big hubbub that originally brought so much attention for Ello may be defused.

The new social network rocketed into the spotlight when, because of its real name policy, Facebook began shutting down the Facebook pages of some artists who use names other than their legal names, particularly drag queens.

Now, Facebook has apologized and decided to ease up on its name policy.

And yet.

The social network that has branded itself as the Anti-Facebook, complete with an anti-advertiser manifesto and the tagline, “You are not a product,” is still getting heaped with attention.

So what’s a marketer to do?

Just because everyone’s talking about Ello, does that mean it’s worth your time?

Don’t Just Jump on the Ello Band-wagon (or Party Barge)

I’m not going to run through the problems with Ello—I mean, come on, it’s still in beta.

Ello is in its puppy stage.

Plus, others have done a fine job of outlining the shortfalls, from the privacy to the promise of this new network.

The question for communicators shouldn’t be “Ello, yes or no?” (though some have answers at the ready for that question).

To me, the question is, “How do I figure out which social networks—beta, established, or in-between—are right for my brand?”

The question is the same, no matter which platform is available or new.

Here are the top three questions you need to answer in order to know where you belong on social media:

Where is Your Community?

Start with research on where your target audience—your customers, your prospects, your ideal customers—already hang out online.

Remember that it’s always easier to build community where your audience is, whether that’s on a big, popular network or a smaller, more targeted niche network.

What are Your Social Media Goals?

Is your goal to humanize your brand and show the day-to-day, behind-the-scenes life of your company? Consider Instagram.

Is your goal to drive qualified B2B leads into your sales funnel? LinkedIn or SlideShare may be better choices for you.

Do you really need help with SEO? Think about Google+.

You can’t decide where you should be if you can’t articulate what you want to do.

What are Your Limitations?

If you’re a boot-strapping entrepreneur and running your own ship solo, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to keep up a lively presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, oh—and Ello.

Make a realistic assessment of what you can do now.

It’s one thing to park usernames on all of the social media sites you may want down the line, but don’t go for fits and starts.

Decide what you can reasonably do and dedicate your time to it.

If you start posting on a network and then let it fall by the wayside, consumers will either forget about you or think something’s gone really wrong—you don’t want either of those outcomes.

One Big Caveat about Any Social Network

Remember, too, there is no social network out there you truly own (I realize this may sound blasphemous coming from someone with the words “shared media” in her title, but there you go).

Social networks can be terrific for generating social proof, word-of-mouth marketing and the like, but you don’t own them.

If you’re truly going to be building a community, think beyond social media—think about your owned assets.

So what do you think—what other questions do you ask when you’re trying to decide whether to jump on a new (or old) social network?

Eleanor Pierce

Eleanor Pierce is a recovering journalist who can't decide which part of the country to call home. She's happiest when she's reading, though she also really likes writing, baking, dogs, and sarcasm. No, seriously.

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