Why are people clamoring for an Ello invite? @lzEeoNl

Serious #FOMO, among other things.

It was Wednesday, September 24, and I hadn't yet got an Ello invite. I was aware of the buzz it was generating (mostly by gloating people who had gotten invites), but this newest social network was on the periphery of my world—both real and virtual. Whatever, another Facebook-Instagram thing. I don't need another Google+ in my life.

But still came the creeping #FOMO. Why didn't I get an invite? The Ello conversation continued to blow up that week—for me, mostly over other social networks with others who also weren't cool enough to have gotten an invite. I decided to glumly check it out, like driving by a party I wasn't on the list for.

The parts of the site I could access looked clean and trendy, like the Apple product of social networks. On the front page, the "favorite" user profiles were packed like cupcakes in the center. I could access (and was encouraged to share) the Ello manifesto, in which the creators promised the site would be ad-free, anti-big data, and anti-ugliness. It said that Ello users were not products.

That's one reason people are clamoring for invites—to check out what the "anti-Facebook" has to offer. Or not offer, over and over.

The other reason is exclusivity.   

The simple, beautiful, annoying reminder that Ello is invite-only.

Friends who were internetty already enough to be on it already could invite you, or you could request an invitation. At one point last week, the site buckled under the weight of invitation applications (ranging between 20,000 and 35,000 an hour). If you were really desperate for cache, you could also buy an invite on Ebay for up to $100. (Even the good people at Ello felt this was a bit bizarre).

Steve Jones, who teaches communications and electronic media at University of Illinois in Chicago, got an invite from an artist friend soon after the site launched. He told me that he was castigated yesterday for having grabbed up the @SteveJones handle by another person with the same name. That's another reason there was such a rush to get the invites: a chance to start over with a better username.

"A big part of what was driving the interest in Ello was not so much what it had to offer as a the fear of missing out on it," he says. "[People] potentially want to lock in a handle and kind of plant their flag.”

It's also a great marketing move. If Ello had removed the velvet rope at the very beginning, the explosion of interest in such a fledgling social network may not have happened, says Jones. He guesses that some of the buyers might include PR companies securing a spot in what could be the next big viral opportunity for their clients. (Ello may trumpet that it's ad-free, but nothing is stopping brands—including Ello creator Paul Budnitz's bike company—from securing a handle.)

So if you still haven't gotten an invite, what does it mean? Probably that you just don't run in the same circles as the creators.

Social networks online are reflect our social networks offline to a large degree (depending on who you are and what network you're on). The Ello inner core was probably created by the creators' offline social groups because that's who they sent the invites to.

As for me, I have finally been invited to the party. Steve Jones was nice enough to send me one. I haven't really checked it out yet, though. I have all these LinkedIn emails I need to delete first.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo collage of 2020 presidential candidates.
    Equity

    Will Housing Swing the 2020 Election?

    Among Democratic candidates for president, the politics of America’s housing affordability crisis are getting complicated. Just wait until Trump barges in.

  2. A photo of an abandoned building in Newark, New Jersey.
    Equity

    The 10 Cities Getting a Philanthropic Boost for Economic Mobility

    An initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group focuses on building “pipelines of opportunity.”

  3. a photo of Denver city council member Candi CdeBaca
    Transportation

    A Freeway Fight Launched Denver’s New Queer Latina Councilmember

    In a progressive shake-up, 32-year-old community organizer Candi CdeBaca will take her advocacy work to the city council.  

  4. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  5. At an NBA game, a player attempts to block a player from the rival team who has the ball.
    Life

    NBA Free Agents Cluster in Superstar Cities, Too

    Pro basketball follows the winner-take-all geography of America as a whole, with free agents gravitating to New York, L.A., and other big cities.

×