The ad-free social media platform Ello experienced a meteoric rise in popularity a few months ago but is now being declared dead and a growing social network by different news sources.

So, should you have an Ello marketing strategy? (After all, it can be hard to determine which camp is right: the Ello supporters or its detractors.)

Before making such a decision, you first need to answer the following questions.

1. Is my audience on Ello?

At the time of writing, you need an invitation to create an account on Ello, meaning that the number of users—and therefore audience—is currently quite limited. In addition, there is no data about who is currently using the platform, so anything you read about Ello's audience can only be guesswork.

However, a general consensus leads us to believe that their audience is mostly made up of early adopters, social media-savvy individuals, and those who have shunned the current paid advertising regime that exists on other social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

This limited audience means that many small business marketers may find that their target audience only exists in small, sporadic groups on Ello. As a result, you may find it more efficient to focus your social marketing efforts on existing platforms like Twitter, where there are still over 200 million people to reach.

2. Can my content make a difference without sharing?

If you are used to paying for advertising on Facebook and Twitter, chances are you may experience lower than anticipated engagement with anything you post on Ello. Early reports indicate that Ello currently doesn't support a sharing function, which means marketers wanting their content to go viral may find it hard to build any traction.

However, Ello recently announced the following: "At the request of many of our users, Ello will soon support embedded content from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, and other media formats that may have ads embedded in them."

We should take a moment to note that Ello is still in its infancy, and the site is considering a move away from its super-cool simplistic look and adding more sharing functionality in 2015. However, despite this announcement, early visitor figures released by comScore suggest that unique visitors have drastically dropped off since the initial surge when the site was first launched. As a result, Ello marketers can expect content to have a large reach across a base of inactive users. Any potential engagement that can be coaxed out of this audience will be inherently stunted, not simply by the nature of Ello's users but also by the limited types of media that can be shared.

3. What do I want to achieve?

Business turn to social marketing to achieve many different goals, but if you're looking to increase brand loyalty, follower base, or find new customers, chances are Ello isn't the place for you.

Social marketers should consider Ello in terms of Instagram; it's a platform to develop and strengthen your brand and company identity. Like Instagram, only businesses that look to offer something other than direct marketing, such as exclusive content, can enjoy success.

Social media expert and The Independent's Social Media Editor, Brett Leppard warns that even when using Ello to develop a brand, it should be done sparingly.

"At the moment, we post about two to three a day of our best, most shareable stories," states Leppard. "We don't want to overload it. There aren't that many people following us at the moment, and we don't want to look spammy."

And that's the point. The reason for Ello's existence is that users became sick of their social media platforms being hijacked by marketers trading money for their information. So, any early effort must be subtle and attempted with care.

After considering all the above questions in detail, do you still want to get a head start on Ello?

One thing that is consistent across all reports is that Ello users aren't interested in being directly marketed to; remembering that fact must be at the core of your marketing strategy. Ello lends itself more as a platform to strengthen your brand and communicate your values to customers, which will, in turn, increase awareness of your business.

The only benefit of making the jump to Ello early in its life cycle is to take ownership of your business's name. But beware... Any business that makes the jump over to Ello and breaks the cardinal rule of "no direct advertising" is likely to receive a frosty reception.

As a final thought, two things remain uncertain:

  • Will Ello remain popular once opened up to the general public?
  • Will it be able to sustain the website without revenue from advertising?

As Ello is still in such an early stage of its development, much remains to be seen, and the best anyone can do at this point is speculate. The fact that Ello is the first of its kind, as far as social media is concerned, makes it difficult to predict how the platform will develop. It may take off in a huge way and change the face of social media marketing forever; it may fizzle out and prove to be nothing more than a fad. it could fall anywhere in between.

One thing is for certain: Companies in social and digital marketing will be keeping a close eye on Ello over the next year. You should, too.

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James McAllister is an online content creator for Make It Cheaper, a UK SME energy broker.

Twitter: @JaMacca01