A Quick Overview Of Mastodon
Let’s face it. You may feel like you need another social media channel like you need a flooded basement.
That is to say, not so much.
But alas, another social media channel has been thrust upon you, and like a Kardashian, you don’t want to be left out of the conversation, right?
Mastodon is being talked about heavily by social media users and people in the “know”. Since the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, people have been on the lookout for an alternative site that may not limit their reach. Others just do not like the path that Twitter is taking. If you rely on Twitter for some of your social media marketing and client or customer reach, it may be time to look for a new tool to help you continue to market with success. Mastodon may or may not be that tool.
What Is Mastodon & Why Should I Care?
Mastodon is a decentralized social media network. It’s been created using open-source software, which makes it significantly unique. Mastodon remains small – with an estimated 1.6 million users as of October 27, 2022. But it is growing at a very fast rate. It will take time to reach Twitter’s 238 million users but getting in early could mean the ability to establish a strong place on the site. More so, if it continues to grow at the rate it is, it could be one of the most important social media sites for growing your target audience. That’s reason enough to take a look at what it has to offer.
So, what is it? What makes it valuable to you and your business? Before you delete your Twitter account and move on, here’s what you need to know.
How It’s Different from Twitter
Mastodon is a free social media site like Twitter and most others. It functions much like Twitter as well. Instead of a “tweet,” you post a “toot.” Users follow companies, organizations, and other people while also favoriting (liking) posts from others or giving them a boost, which is much like retweeting. This makes it much like the larger social media site, so why bother?
The site launched in October 2016. While its function is very much like Twitter, the way it operates is different. While Twitter is a strong, company-owned business model, the goal with Mastodon was to create a way to connect with people that a single company did not control and therefore cannot, in any way, censor.
It’s become obvious that Twitter is very much under the influence of Elon Musk, who can control who posts, verifications of identities, and even if he charges for the service. With Mastodon, there’s not just a single town square for everyone. Rather, it is made up of thousands of individual social networks that run on various servers. Each of these networks links and can communicate with each other in what is called the Fediverse.
The Fediverse is complex and has a number of other social networks on it as well. For example, for music lovers, Funkwhale is a social network within Mastodon. For those who want to watch videos, PeerTube is available.
There’s no requirement that these social networks connect to Fediverse. That is one of the key reasons many are using the site – it provides them with a way to control their own network and reduces limitations on what can be said, shared, or viewed. For those feeling limited by Twitter or other social networks, Mastodon could be an attractive place to be.
Is Mastodon Right for You (and Your Business)?
Mastodon is a free social media network, so besides taking up a great deal of your time if you get pulled into it, there’s no risk in establishing an account and starting to use the network. It’s not as robust as Twitter and shouldn’t be considered an equal exchange – dropping your marketing on Twitter off to connect on Mastodon may be a harsh step since it is no where near as large.
However, one of the core benefits of Mastodon is that it is smaller, and that means more private and engaging conversations and connections can be made. If you’re struggling to stand out on Twitter, you may want to consider how Mastodon could help you build your social media network in the meantime.
The easiest way to make this decision is to join and check it out. Find out what other companies are doing within your niche or whether your target customer base is on the site.
Some of the latest figures about the site show the following demographics:
- 66.41 percent are male.
- 33.59 percent are female.
- The largest age group of users is between 25 and 34, accounting for 32.96% of all users. Those 18 to 24 are the second largest group, followed by those 35 to 44.
- Most users are accessing through a desktop.
How to Set Up an Account
One of the hardest parts of Mastodon is setting up an account. Why? Well, in order to do so, you cannot just go to Mastodon and get started. Rather, you need to choose a specific server to join and register there. There are lots of servers to consider, including options based on the following:
- Specific interests
- Your professional background
There are also many, many servers dedicated to very strange things – from animals to those who are passionate about a specific political area.
Mastodon.social is one of the largest servers and is the official server for the project. A secondary “big” server is mstdn.social. The problem with joining these is that they have paused new registrations, though the organization says this is just a temporary step.
To get started, you have to focus first on finding the server that is home to your most likely target audience. However, don’t get too hung up on choosing a server. That’s because once you pick one to join, you can then join more and as many as you would like to. You can leave servers when you decide you no longer want to use them as well. You’re also able to follow people across all servers, not just the one you’re a member of.
To set up an account, visit joinmastodon.org, where you’ll find a list of all of the available servers you can join. There are over 100 of them. Now, keep in mind that though Mastodon is all about providing a voice for people, there are still rules. Every server has to enforce moderation and back up the site.
Once you pick a server to join, most of the time, you just need to provide your email address and set up a password and login for your account. It’s very simple and takes just verifying your email to get started. There are some servers that are more private and may require more verification steps. Some are only available by invitation.
Marketing on Mastodon
Keep in mind that Mastodon is not Twitter when it comes to marketing. It’s critical to understand the site and how well it fits your business model long before you jump in and start using it for your marketing.
It is possible to market on Mastodon, but it’s not the same as Twitter. You are not necessarily looking to turn those people following you on the platform into your customers. Rather, Mastodon is about building relationships and people in general. That is, you’re in it for the long game – this is less about a simple ad and more about building a relationship with a person who likes you enough to learn more about your company.
The other factor that makes it a bit more complex is that Mastodon isn’t an ad based network. As of November 2022, the site is ad-free. That means you are not able to post your brand advertisements on the site. There are no posts that are promoted through paid advertising while 1 in every 3 posts. you see are actually ads on Facebook now.
That means if a Mastodon user sees an ad, it is necessary for that person to come directly to the brand’s profile to do so. That makes it a bit harder to use, but not impossible.
How can you market on Mastodon, then?
In short, you’ll build your brand account as you do on other social media sites. The key here is that you need to build value and really show people reading your posts that you’re about engaging in them. It’s hard to create content for a mass audience on this platform – there are no ads you can buy to get in front of everyone. However, joining networks and following people and other brands will increase your reach.
Clearly, you have to be more intentional to reach your target market here.
If you are looking for a direct paid marketing tool, Mastodon isn’t right for you or your business. It may change over time, especially as the platform continues to grow and attract former Twitter users. Yet, it may not be time to drop all of your marketing on other social media platforms just yet.
Let Make It Loud Help
Mastodon isn’t right for every business, but as a new tool for social media marketing, it’s worth considering giving your business the boost it needs. At Make It Loud, our digital marketing firm is ready to help you make a splash on the site long before your competition gets there. Reach out to us for all of your web design, SEO services, social media marketing, and digital marketing services to get started.
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. He is also the Director of SEO. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.