Three Lessons Social Media Marketers Can Learn From Ello
New start-up Ello has made a loud entrance to the social media networking stage.
It purports to serve us social animals in a manifestly different way to the domineering establishment, namely Facebook.
Ello’s emergence has doubtlessly been a rapid one, for it has snowballed from 90 members in August to a claimed 30,000 new users per hour today.
Whether it can truly shake the foundations of the social media mainstream is yet to be seen, but the philosophy Ello says it will fervently abide by is gaining traction among users, and should act as a stark warning to marketers in this crowded space.
Firstly, it has struck a chord with the conscience of consumers by reminding them that the likes of Facebook farm information and personal data for commercial benefit.
“Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties,” its About Us webpage reads.
“Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You're the product that's being bought and sold.”
This appeal against or warning of methods it describes as “creepy and unethical” will only add strength to the view that internet usage is growing ever more uncomfortable and intrusive. Offering a free social media service is perhaps no longer enough to keep consumers complicit to data farming.
Second, Ello points to the human emotion of annoyance when it refers to the adverts themselves, once they appear on users’ screens after the backroom data has decided what to try and sell them.
“Many other social networks (like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, etc. etc.) started out ad-free, then suddenly switched gears,” its No Ad Policy reads. “They modified their privacy policies, started selling information about their users to data brokers, and bombarded us with ads.”
This switching of gears is what has annoyed many, who now have their social media experiences disrupted by un-subtle and sometimes noisy adverts which can lead to even greater frustration if accidentally clicked on.
Ello believes that “ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we're better without them.”
Thirdly, social media marketers should take note of consumer shifts towards other more private social media platforms.
Services such as Dispora and even WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook, offer a sense of privacy between users and their contacts. Ello could be the next step in this protest march away from the armies of data miners.
While the emergence of Ello rightly flags up the need for social media marketing to review the data-driven nature of its methods, there is still plenty of space for genuine B2C interaction.
What should make social media such a cost-effective method of marketing is the way it makes customers feel engaged beyond a sales pitch, whether this be in receiving feedback, sharing non-commercialised content or simply answering a query.
What Ello has done is remind business using social media of the importance to remain human.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”