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Mastodon: What is it and how is it competing with Twitter?

Nov 15, 2022

Social Media Marketing News

Mastodon: What is it and how is it competing with Twitter?

Following the fallout from Elon Musk’s turbulent Twitter takeover, many Twitter quitters have flocked to another platform: Mastodon. But what is it, and why are so many people joining?

Mastodon is a free, open-source decentralised social media platform. Although it has an appearance that’s similar to Twitter—a timeline of Toots sorted chronologically—Mastodon allows users to join a variety of servers run by different groups and individuals, rather than one central platform run by a singular company. Mastodon is free to use and free of ads. 

Since Elon’s takeover, Mastodon has gained over 230,000 users, resulting in over 655,000 monthly active users. A network health check on the 13th November revealed that the platform now has over 1.7 million monthly active users. 

But what is it about Mastodon that ex-Twitter users like so much?

Mastodon: The Fediverse

As we mentioned, Mastodon is a decentralised social platform. But what does this mean? 

Mastodon is a federated network, a collection of thousands of social networks that run on servers across the world, linked by the common Mastodon technology (AKA The Fediverse). Users sign up for a specific server, which is run by whoever sets it up (usually volunteers running it out of their own pocket or with the help of sponsors). Each server has its own rules and policies, including who can join and how conversations are moderated. 

Mastodon The Fediverse

While you can set up your own server and rules, there is an extensive list of servers that focus on specific locations, niches, or topics of interest. All servers are signed up to the “Mastodon covenant” which promises “active moderation against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”

Users have to sign up for a Mastodon server, but this doesn’t limit you to only following users within that server—you can follow users on a different server easily.

Mastodon vs. Twitter

Let’s get into the differences between Mastodon and Twitter. 

Usernames

Usernames are different on Mastodon. Because users have to sign up to a specific server, their username is [username]@[MasterdonServer]. Your Mastodon username is essentially like an email address.

Posting

This is arguably the most similar thing about the two platforms. Where on Twitter you have tweets, on Mastodon you have toots. Toots allow users to write up to 500 characters per post, and offer additional features such as spoiler warnings for text and images (great for film spoilers or controversial rants). 

You also have significantly more control over who can see your post on Mastodon. You can allow your toots to be discovered by the server you’re on, those who follow you, or only those who you have mentioned in the toot. 

Hashtags work similarly to Twitter for trending topics, and you can boost someone’s post (AKA retweet), but there’s no such thing as quote tooting—yet. 

Verification

This is arguably the feature that’s setting Mastodon ahead of Twitter right now. While verification on Twitter is currently in shambles, Mastodon has a verification system that’s available to anyone with their own website. 

If you link to a website you control on your profile, Mastodon will recognise you as the owner of that website, giving your followers justification in trusting you are who you say you are. 

Finding who to follow

When setting up a Mastodon account, you’ll likely feel like you’re starting social media from scratch. While you can follow anyone on Mastodon, if you want to find users you know have migrated from Twitter, it can be a bit tricky. 

Because users are spread across so many servers, it can be hard to track down people you know. The server-specific usernames have been likened to having different email providers. However, you can find Twitter users through Twitodon, but only if they have also used Twitodon. Otherwise, you will have to go through people you know follower lists. 

Ads

Mastodon is free to use and is ad-free—something very rare for a social platform nowadays. The servers are run by volunteers or are funded by donations through Patreon or sponsors. 

Mastodon’s future

Mastodon definitely has a way to go before it takes over Twitter, if it ever does. Considering the servers are run for free by people, a huge surge in users could result in lags in content. But, the freedom to connect on a more personal level brings the social back to social media, so the concept is undoubtedly refreshing considering the content-heavy social landscape we’re currently navigating. 

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to receive our industry insights, visit our Influencer Marketing & Social Media blog.

@ Socially Powerful

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James Hacking

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Socially Powerful, founded in 2017, stood as pioneers of the influencer marketing industry. Today we are a global social marketing agency and technology company.

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