Laptop openRecent studies show that one quarter of the world’s population use social media. That’s approximately 1,750,000,000 people.

Many of us, if not all, don’t even bat an eyelid to that stat when we upload a photo, tweet an opinion or send a snap. We post and then an hour later, we post something else. Simple.

For what seems like forever, more and more brands have joined the social sphere to gain further recognition because, well…we’re greedy like that.

Now, I’m not a social media guru by any means but I can’t help noticing a shift in social media obsession and consumer loyalty. Not only is it a bucket load more difficult for companies to stand out with posts constantly being pushed further down the list, but people generally don’t like the thought of their information being shared out like party bags at a birthday bash.

The rise in privacy scandals over the last year or two has significantly turned up the heat on the consumer demand for online privacy. As a result, users of top social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are picking flowers on other patches of grass such as ‘Ello’, whereby users aren’t required to enter personal information like names and locations.

As a result, consumers are much more fragmented and disperse, therefore, brands need to forget about the bog standard (yet fickle) ‘likes’, ’follows’ and ‘shares’. Instead, we need to find opportunities that trigger user generated content and use this to drive sales and awareness.

This is where websites like ‘Ello’ prove interesting as it solely publishes user generated content. There are no adverts to be seen, no promotions and no clutter. ‘Ello’ has a manifesto, promising an ad-free experience and offers lots of white space. It works on an invitation only basis, therefore, users join because they feel like they’ve been chosen – chosen to have a break from incessant advertising.

So, what about us lowly social media advertisers?

Well obviously, it’s the companies’ job to stay at the forefront of the consumers’ minds both on and off social feeds, making sure they don’t dissolve into the background. However, with the rise of websites such as ‘Ello’, the time has come to be more forthcoming with our approaches.

One of the best ways to do this is through face-to-face marketing. Experiential campaigns are fantastic at building relationships between a brand and it’s consumers through memorable, enjoyable and sometimes unexpected experiences. Consumers walking away from a brand event feeling positive are more likely to associate those feelings with the brand they encountered and will therefore, be more likely to talk about that event through social media platforms of their own accord. No matter what a brand does, they need to ensure they add value to a consumers’ life in some way – whether that be positive encounters or service.

This is a great tactic to consider when thinking about users of ‘Ello’. If we can target them on an experiential, face-to-face level, they would be more likely to post on these ‘ad-free’ networks themselves – avoiding the need for a brand presence.

Another solution to this shift, would be to publish posts that people genuinely care about. The issue with profile based social media, is that there’s tonnes of stuff that people wouldn’t actively go and look for – such as adverts. People are interested in seeing ‘behind the scenes’. They want to see the raw goings on of brands, they want a personal feel and to see the creative process. If they have this insight, they will more than likely respond accordingly.

However, ‘Ello’ is only 5 months old – it’s still a baby in beta stages. So much can change in its evolvement, we just need to make sure we’re at the front of the queue, knowing which corners it will turn in order to get the best out of this new trend.

The bottom line is; as long as social media remains a core part of people’s lives and interaction, brands will always use it as an outlet to raise awareness and build relationships – it’s only the ways in which they do this that will adapt. No matter how these techniques twist and change, the primary goal for a brand is to add a little something to their consumers’ lives. So, it is down to us – the companies – to be hip and happening when it comes to social media knowledge, to ensure we’re equipped with the most current skills needed to extract the best from each network.

Will ad-free social sites be the solution to a social networking revolution? Watch this space.

Please see below for further info or a general distraction:

‘Ello Brand Marketing’

Interview with Paul Budnitz