What Ello Tells Us About Fundraising

Over the past few weeks, the new social media kid on the block, Ello, has been the talk of the town. What’s Ello? And what’s Ello got to do with fundraising?

Ello, simply, is the anti-Facebook. Their core differentiator is that they’ll never leverage their users for profit. While we’re pretty sure that’s impossible (websites cost money to run and how else would they make money?), the idea that there needs to be an anti-Facebook is worth considering.

As we’ve discussed before, Facebook’s curation system means a little less than 1.2% of your alumni office or school’s fans will see any given post. Despite that “thinning” of organization and corporate exposure on the social network, users are inundated with marketing and sales messaging on Facebook.

And they’re not alone. Analysts have even theorized that WhatsApp, recently bought by Facebook, is likely to hemorrhage users and usage if and when they monetize through ads.

So, when Ello says they won’t sell you (read: your data) or to you, it’s a bold finger pointing at Facebook and other social networks. And all their momentum, despite folks not really understanding why they’re on Ello, tells us something:

People are bristling at the level of commercialization of their social media feeds.

We’ve known this for sometime. In a powerful study last year , Wharton and Stanford researchers quantified the impact of “salesy” posts on social media. In fact, for non-profits and schools (and corporations, too), posts that sought to drive commercial behavior or directly inform fans about clicking a purchase/gift button saw significant drops in “likes” and comments on Facebook.

So, what did drive “likes” and comments? Emotional posts. Posts that were philanthropically centered. Posts with photos.

Alumni don’t give because of data points. They give because they have a relationship with their alma mater. Yes, sometimes the data helps them feel logically justified in following their heart, but the heart is always being followed. Interestingly, the same study found that emotional posts with data perform the best. Perhaps the real promise is in communicating with the head and the heart as one.

So, all in on Ello? Nope. It’s still figuring itself out. But the insight that gave Ello its birth should sit with you as you think about your social strategies. How do you combine the head and the heart?

Nick Zeckets