I landed an Ello invite today. Here are some immediate rough impressions from the first hour with the service.
The biggest thing that Ello has is its minimalism. Some people seem to hate it, but I find it a little interesting. It doesn't feel as chaotic as Diaspora was and it doesn't look like any of the other sites out there. The other social network I was ready to compare it to was Path, but Path seemed to nuzzle up so close with those people that you already knew.
Ello doesn't do a lot of hand holding for new users and finding others. There is a "Discover" tab that will point you at the founders and a few notable new users, but Ello doesn't have any other info to direct you to anyone you might have known over on Twitter or Facebook. You either invite them or find them as you go.
Instead of adding a new dynamic or interaction like every other site, there really is only one interaction at the moment: posts and replies. That's it. No "like," no "fave" ,no retweet, or share (though resharing will be added, according to Ello's feature list).
It's built without the features that would make it a commercial success. What brand would want to post something with zero chance for built in "virality"? Sure, someone could screengrab the post and then reshare it, but that can't be counted and monetized easily.
Not having the ability to fave or like makes the system so much cleaner and also a lot more lonely. Without the chance of resharing a message simply isn't going to get any traction; there's nowhere for it to go.
Compared to twitter, it feels antisocial. Compared to Facebook, it feels like living on the homestead.