What is Mastodon? A Beginner’s Guide to the New Twitter

Rumour has it there’s a new social network in town. Mastodon has been around since 2016, but has recently rocketed in popularity thanks to billionaire Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter. The decentralized social network (more on this later) consists of independent servers built around specific topics and/or trends, whilst offering many of the same functions as Twitter. And with young, tech-savvy social media users threatening to deactivate their Twitter accounts in favour of Mastodon, we wanted to share what it’s all about and how your brand can get involved.

The pros and cons of Mastodon

What’s the main difference between Twitter and Mastodon? The latter is decentralized, meaning it’s not owned by one single person/company (like Twitter), but is made up of thousands of different servers. This presents you, both as an individual user and as a brand, with a number of pros and cons.

Mastodon on iPhone

Pros

  • Thanks to its focus on themes and topics, Mastodon is great for building and nourishing communities. In order to join the platform, users must select a server to join, and whilst the most popular/biggest ones are currently generalised and with no specific topic (like Twitter), there are servers that focus on more niche topics, such as tech and Bitcoin. Top tip: Use mastodonservers.net to find the server you want to join.
  • You can still rely on affiliate marketing and UGC campaigns by working with individual accounts, it just takes more time/effort to get there. It’s important to note that because Mastodon is a newer and, by comparison to Twitter, smaller platform, follower counts are smaller

Cons

  • It’s changing the face of marketing in an unknown and never-seen-before way. Exciting! But you can do longer rely on engagement, with Mastodon stating that they’ll never serve ads or push certain profiles above others. 
  • Because of this, users won’t be directed automatically to viral trends/content like we’re used to seeing on other platforms
  • Thanks to decentralization, monitoring harmful or abusive content is much more difficult than on a centralized network

Are Gen Z actually using Mastodon?

Whilst it definitely won’t be overtaking Twitter anytime soon, we are seeing it mentioned increasingly across other social networks, with some Gen Zs even sharing their Mastodon handles in their Twitter bios. By taking the time to understand the platform now, you’re preparing for the future. After all, 2023 is the year of communities and connections for Gen Z, and Mastodon’s niche servers seem to be the perfect place to host these conversations!

Young person on couch using phone for internet, social media post or email communication update

Should my brand join Mastodon?

Don’t worry, it’s not quite time to make Mastodon your number one priority. Sam Massey, Social Media Lead at Student Beans, says: “”Personally I would focus on your core channels and just keep an eye on Mastodon in the background. A lot of the feedback from users has been that it’s confusing to navigate, so until there’s been some improvements there, I don’t think we’ll see a huge influx of people moving across from Twitter”

However, with large growth and spiking interest, Mastodon is undeniably an exciting development in social media. Whilst it does have its pros and cons, taking the time to understand this will help you reap the rewards in future. By finding the right server, whether that focuses on a shared interest or specific career, youth marketers can get unfiltered access to what really matters to young consumers. Whilst Mastodon currently has over 8,000 servers, there’s always room for more! If you can’t find a server that fits your niche just create your own. You can find out how, here.


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