Ello is the most exciting new social network to appear in years. It’s a vibrant place full of interesting thinkers and artists — I spend more time on Ello than any other network right now. Every day new and interesting people are signing up, plugging in and joining. Although Ello is a social network like many others, it is also unlike many others as well. Ello has it’s own way of organizing things and after spending a few months on the site I thought I’d share some best practices for getting the most out of Ello.
1. NSFW. As a community with a lot of artists as early members, Ello seems to have a healthy tolerance for all forms of expression, including fine art nudes and other adult oriented material. I’m a big fan of the human body as form and expression and think this is great.
You won’t be bounced off Ello or censored (like Facebook) because you express the beauty of the human body in your art. If this sort of work is your thing, then Ello asks that you set your account as NSFW. I’m guessing that if you don’t do this voluntarily, they can/will do it for you.
Similarly, it is up to you whether or not you want to *see* this sort of work on Ello.
These are two independent settings.
So there are two things for you to consider. Do you want to see NSFW content AND do you yourself in fact post NSFW content. A lot of people get this setting wrong. They check NSFW for both when they produce work that is entirely SFW. Be sure to understand the distinction and manage your settings (you can do that here: https://ello.co/settings) accordingly.
If you are not posting nudes or other adult oriented materal, then make sure the “post adult oriented content” button is checked no. You can still check yes that you want to view it, but more people will see your stuff if you manage this setting correctly.
2. Don’t overshare. I see a few people posting 10, 15, 20 photos in a row on Ello. Most people won’t want to see 20 of your photos in a row. They want variety. They want to see other stuff by other friends too. If you overshare, there is a very good chance that people will move your account into their noise bucket and a lot less people will see your work. The right number of items to share on Ello per day is probably a matter of personal opinion, but realize that every time you post you give people an option of moving you into the noise bucket where your work will be much less (if at all) visible to them going forward.
I’d say anything over 4 or 5 posts a day on Ello is probably too much and starts to feel spammy. Save your very best work for Ello and self edit a bit more. I probably post 1 – 3 images there a day depending on the day. That might even be too much.
3. Quality counts. Never has quality been as important. Again, people can easily move you into the noise category so consider that in what you post. Post your best work for others to see. Nothing makes me want to move someone to noise like thoughtless, mediocre work.
I probably sound like a broken record with my dislike for watermarking and signatures, but on Ello it’s more important than other places to avoid these distasteful aesthetically displeasing nuisances. If you put ugly watermarks and signatures on your photos people will move you to noise (if they follow you at all) and your work will not be seen. Even your best friend might do this and you will never know. So put your best foot forward and only share what you consider to be your highest quality content.
4. Be social. Ello is a *social* network, so be social. I see people already complaining that it doesn’t feel like they are getting enough attention on Ello. You shouldn’t expect to just post content and have people flock to your brilliant work. You need to engage with others. The best way to do this is to participate in conversations on other people’s posts. Find some interesting people who are engaging on the site and jump into conversations that you find. Ello is a place best served by meaningful, articulate dialog. Offer up considered thoughtful contributions to other people’s work and I think you’ll make friends fast there. Lurk and you will be alone.
If you are new and are looking for some interesting and engaging people you may find some here. Also, don’t forget about the invite button. Do you know some really great people who should be on ello? Then make sure you send them an invitation to your new party. Inevitably people will start saying that “none of their friends,” are on Ello. This is your fault. It’s up to you to get them here. It’s also up to you to make new friends.
Post about Ello on your other networks and encourage people there to come join you. Tweet, FB, G+, Flickr, etc. letting people know that you are hanging out there and offer to get an invitation to anyone who wants one.
5. “I think everybody should be nice to everybody.” — Andy Warhol It goes without saying that you should be nice to others. This is one of the most important things that Andy Warhol ever said. Especially on Ello where there is not only a block function, but also a noise feature, people who are antisocial assholes will quickly be marginalized out of the experience. Being nice does not mean being bland, uncontroversial and boring. It just means that when you disagree with others, try to do it as respectfully as possible. Don’t personally attack people. Rise above that. Great ideas can be discussed on Ello and people can disagree on things, but respect is the key.
6. Be visible. Make sure you have an avatar, a profile, and links to your other sites as the *very first thing* you do when you join Ello — then add some interesting content of your own. You only get one chance to make a strong first impression. When someone new follows me, a lot of the time I’ll go look at who they are by clicking on their profile link. If I’m taken to a blank page with a blank avatar and minimal description, I probably will not follow them back or engage with them. On the other hand if I find a thoughtfully written profile, links to other places where I can check out your work, and some compelling content already uploaded to your Ello account, I just might try to make friends by adding you back.
7. Be active. If you want to get the most out of Ello, you should consider making a meaningful contribution to the site. Especially after you first join you should plan on spending some time on the site every day. Post content yourself daily, but also participate in posts by other people every day, and this means more than just typing “nice photo.” If you post a few photos and then disappear for a week, when people look at your account you’ll be passed over as a dead account.
8. Understand Ello’s advertising position. Ello does not have ads on the site. Also, they don’t profile you and sell your personal data to advertisers (like they do on Facebook). This does not mean that brands are not welcome on Ello though, they are. They just won’t be able to advertise to people by paying Ello. Brands may not fully understand this and think that they need to stay away. One of Ello’s founders Paul Budnitz spells this position out clearly here:
“Because Ello doesn’t have ads, the only way for brands to be on Ello effectively is to post interesting things that people want to see.
Another way to say it is, the worst way to for a company to use social media is to advertise, because that is essentially paying money to show us things that we don’t want to see. Brands are welcome join Ello, but if their content sucks, nobody will want to follow them.”
Budnitz’s own company Budnitz Bicycles has a brand page on Ello. And you know what, it features kick ass beautiful artistic quality photographic works of their bicycles. That’s a pretty good example of how you should think about Ello if you are a brand. Just because the anti-advertising ethos runs strong on Ello, this doesn’t mean your business/company/brand should not be there. It just means you are going to really have to work to get people’s attention by providing them interesting content and not typical advertising crap.
9. Watch your activity. Click on the little lightning bolt frequently on Ello. Are new people following you? Go check them out. Did someone make a meaningful comment on a photograph of yours or ask a question? Go respond to them. Did someone mention you in one of their posts somewhere else on Ello, then acknowledge that and go say hi back. It’s important that you use this tool regularly. While you may not be able to get back to everyone who mentions you or look at everyone who adds you as a contact, be sure to spend time on your activity when you can and participate.
10. Understand and respect both imagery and text. Are you a writer? Consider adding an interesting photo to your post (or borrowing one from an image creator with attribution and permission). This will make things more interesting than just a wall of text.
Are you a photographer? Consider using the strong text function on Ello as a way to tell people more about you and your work. I’m sharing more about myself personally on Ello than I ever have on any network. When I post a photo, frequently, I write about where I was when I took it, how I made it, what my feelings are/were around the image. And I use my space on Ello as a sort of personal diary through text just as much as a visual diary through my imagery of America.
A lot of people don’t get Ello yet. Many never will. It’s so early for Ello, but I do believe that Ello has the potential to become the most substantial social network going forward — bigger and more important than Facebook or Twitter or Google+.
Being early there, you have an opportunity to participate in shaping this important new community — what it will be today and what it ultimately will become.