What are you using instead of Twitter now?
That’s the question du jour right now, isn’t it? Seems like almost everyone that’s been using Twitter for any length of time is hedging bets against the possibility that Mr. Musk may run the platform straight into the ground (for the record, I believe Twitter, in some form, will always exist, but that’s a different post). That’s meant a lot of people are trying out a lot of different, new social media platforms.
Plurk (yes, Plurk!).
But most seemed enamored, for the moment, with Mastodon.
I was curious. So I decided to give it a shot and experiment with Mastodon for a week.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
It’s much more complicated than Twitter
For the lay social media person, I think Mastodon is going to be a struggle. It’s just a lot harder to figure out than Twitter. It’s hard to find a server to join (there’s not that many yet). It’s hard to set up your account (I still can’t figure out how to add a banner!). It’s hard to find friends who have migrated there (I’m still trying to find a few people I’m specifically trying to seek out!). That’s the beauty of Twitter–you sign up, create a profile in 2 minutes, follow a few people and off you go. Mastodon, at least so far, is not even close to that easy.
It seems to be serving many niche and under-represented audiences
I’ve heard other people say this, but in playing around with it for a week, I’ve found this to be true so far. It kinda feels like the political opposite of what I’m guessing Parler feels like (I’ve never been on Parler). You’ll find a lot of self-described nerds out there. You’ll find servers for disenfranchised groups (disability folks, for one). And, overall, the platform just seems to lean (maybe heavily) left. So, that has its pros and cons. On one hand, it will probably be a bit more civil than Twitter has been the last number of years. On the other hand, it may turn into a bit of an echo chamber. But, that may be exactly what some people are looking for. To me, I like the diverse viewpoints on Twitter. I could do without all the anger and hate–but I do like to see the different perspectives.
Your “thing” may not have a server just yet
In 2022, here’s how I’ve been using Twitter: To follow chatter around the sports teams I care about (Jayhawks, Gophers, Wolves, Vikes); to follow politics; to follow some local MSP stuff; and to laugh once in a while. On Mastodon, it’s hard to find those things. I have yet to see a server that revolves around any sports. I don’t see much in the way of politics, since most politicians and media are still on Twitter. There is a bit of humor here and there, but nothing like Twitter. Feels a little more serious to me. And most of the topics lean toward more nerdy topics.
“Mastodon” and “Twitter” dominate conversations so far
A lot of the more popular posts I’ve seen so far revolve around switching to Mastodon and how to do it, or how crappy Twitter is. That’s to be expected given the timing and I’m sure that will wane over time. But once that dies down, what will people talk about? That’s not clear just yet. The other conversations don’t seem to be quite as robust just yet. Could be what I’m seeing though on the server I’m on.
Not sure brands will work on Mastodon
Because it’s more community based and because it seems Mastodon is focused on NOT becoming a platform focused on advertising, I’m not sure there’s a big spot for most brands here. At least not in its current state. Sure, you’ll see some give it a try most likely. But, I don’t see too many being successful. It would be too time-intensive. Most brands barely take the time to respond to comments on the other social networks. Now you have a platform where responding and engaging would be everything–I just don’t see that happening.