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What is Mastodon?

Twitter may have lost over one million users since Elon Musk took over the platform. This mass exit has led to the expansion of other social networking platforms. Mastodon is one of the top locations that former Twitter enthusiasts are moving to.

But what exactly is Mastodon? We are taking a look at the basics of this social media platform and what it can do for small to medium business owners.

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Let's start at the beginning

Despite its recent surge in popularity, Mastodon is not a new social networking platform. It was developed by German software developer Eugen Rochko in 2016.

His vision was to create a nonprofit social media platform. It was intended for public benefit rather than appeasing and doling out money to shareholders.

When you first set up a Mastodon account, you will notice how similar the platform looks to Twitter. It does, in fact, work a lot like Twitter's for-profit interface. This is what makes it easy for both individuals and business owners to make this social networking shift.

Yet, the functionality of Mastodon is different from Twitter. It's decentralized and open-source.

An open-source platform is downloadable by anyone with their own server. You can find the software for free, modify it as you see fit, and rest assured that the developers don't own anything that you upload. This makes it secure for businesses that want to showcase links to blog posts, unique content, or intellectual property.

Why Are People Migrating From Twitter to Mastodon?

We touched on the fact that Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter is the reason for the platform's mass exodus.

Some people's migration is politically motivated. Many users are simply protesting to take an ethical stance. Musk is making many changes to Twitter that many are unhappy about. Some of these include:

  • Potential issues with discrimination against protected classes masked as "free speech"

  • A dislike for Musk's absolute authority

  • NSFW content

  • Impersonation accounts

  • A shift toward profit rather than community

Many people also feel that these shifts are messy. It's challenging to keep up with the changes. Who is blocked, what content is now allowed on Twitter, and what the limits of "free speech" are on the platform?

Plus, Musk is making new changes to Twitter daily. Nothing is consistent.

Blue Check Marks and Your Business

As a small to medium business owner, the issue that will likely impact you most when you remain on Twitter is the for-purchase "verified" checkmark.

In the past, if you were verified, you had to undergo a verification process to get your blue checkmark. You had to send in documentation to prove your identity. You then were able to get the blue checkmark for free.

However, under Musk's reign, the opposite is now true.

Anyone can now purchase a blue check mark for $7.99. This is not a one-time fee. Your business will need to continue paying about $8 monthly as a subscription fee to retain your blue checkmark.

This applies to both new applicants and those who had verification prior to Musk buying Twitter.

Now, anyone can get a blue check mark next to their name. It no longer is reserved for celebrities, influencers, and verified businesses.

Your business also may need to contend with impersonation accounts. These accounts could use your name, become verified, and choose to misrepresent your business.

Mastodon is a potential way out of this predicament.

What Features Does Mastodon Offer?

Because Mastodon is about community, it is free of advertising. This sets it apart from almost all other social media options. You won't need to worry about scrolling past tons of ads to see content on your feed.

Your feed is also showcased chronologically. There's no algorithm telling the platform what to show you first. You'll have equal access to content from the servers that you are part of.

And, yes, you read that right. You will need to host a server for your business or join other self-hosted servers.

Mastodon may be a Twitter alternative, but it is not a single website. You can join individual servers that act as separate websites. This will ensure that you only see information that you're interested in and let you engage with those relevant communities.

The Mechanics of Mastodon

Mastodon functions similarly to Twitter. This is one of the main reasons that businesses are drawn to it after leaving Twitter over other types of software.

Mastodon is not one large network, but many smaller self-hosted networks. Self-hosting makes mastodon decentralized. You can set up a server for your business, install the free code, and get people to join. They'll see content that you post on the server, which might include social media content, discussion threads, videos, graphics, or links to official blog posts on your website.

Posts are called "toots" rather than Tweets and are limited to 500 characters.

You can "boost" toots, which essentially means that you're retweeting them.

"Favoriting" a post is the same as hitting the heart button on Twitter.

What Other Features Can Businesses Use?

However, Mastodon also offers other great features that Twitter does not. They generally make your posts more secure. Some unique features include:

  • Automatic post deletion after a certain timeframe

  • Requiring approval for people to follow you

  • Opt-out of search engine indexing

All of these actions are 100% voluntary. You can take advantage of them or not - it's up to you.

Making the switch from Twitter to Mastodon is easy, especially with the help of a social media consulting and strategy expert. All you need to do is sign up to start accessing features!

Develop a Top-Notch Social Media Presence on Mastodon

While some social media platforms may be facing potentially harmful challenges, Mastodon is a growing oasis in the vast desert of the internet. Now that you know what Mastodon is and why your business should make the shift, it's time to start creating top-notch content for your new page.

Regardless of the social networks you choose, creating your own news and controlling your business’ story is the key to credibility. Shifts in social become meaningless when your audience knows your brand.

Lucie is committed to helping you with content creation, media, and public relations. Our team is excited to work with you to come up with an impactful social media strategy. Contact us to discuss your specific needs and get started.

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