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Building Communities on Mastodon
Once you understand how to navigate the different instances and tailor your content to the niche groups on Mastodon, you will be able to connect with people who use the platform successfully
Individuals, businesses, and brands growing weary of the tumult of Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) flocked to social media alternatives, including Mastodon. Because of its decentralized nature, Mastodon takes a little getting used to for people accustomed to Facebook or Twitter.
Mastodon’s founders emphasized the community’s stance against Musk’s actions in a blog post at the time, saying the vision they represented was a community that can’t be bought or sold at the whims of any individual, billionaire or not.
Fast forward to more than a year later, and Mastodon represents an opportunity to deeply connect with people in your niche without having to spend ad dollars. It will require persistent engagement because there is no algorithm on Mastodon. Once you understand how to navigate the different instances and tailor your content to the niche groups on this platform, you will be able to connect with people on Mastodon successfully.
What is Mastodon?
Started in 2016 by German entrepreneur Eugen Rochko, Mastodon aims to be a more democratic social media company in which no one person’s decisions can so heavily affect the platform's functioning. Keeping Mastodon running is the responsibility of a non-profit organization. The site’s organizers say they’ll never run ads on the site or promote one user’s content over another’s.
Instead of one large area where everyone’s thoughts are displayed, Mastodon is arranged into “instances.” You can interact with people both in your instances and others you don’t belong to. All instances serve as a starting point for your account.
What that means, ultimately, is that while no one person’s actions will cause the company to sink or soar, if the individual hosting your instance ghosts, you may have to start all over.
There are broad servers with no central theme for the community, but there are also cases when the community has a unique topic, such as sports, art, or gaming. However, few (if any) instances will insist on your postings being precisely related to the instance's subject.
Is Mastodon a Contender for Twitter Replacement?
Mastodon has not yet risen to the swollen ranks of Facebook or Instagram. According to Buffer, Facebook has 3.05 billion monthly active users (MAU), and Instagram has 2.04 billion MAUs. In comparison, Mastodon has 1.7 million MAUs. Shortly after Musk’s Twitter takeover, Mastodon had more than 2.5 million MAUs.
What does that mean? People fled to Mastodon, but not all of them stuck around.
While the gap in users is stark, this number of users has launched Mastodon into the top 20 used social media sites. You may be wondering if you should be a part of the decentralized social media movement. It depends on your niche, but with over a million users, you have an opportunity to either find a community to be a part of or create your own.
How to Get a Foothold in Mastodon Instances
Mastodon currently has multiple instances or servers, each with its own unique community. If you can't find an instance that caters to your niche, you can create one yourself.
Establishing yourself as an expert in your niche can set you apart from your competitors and allow you to build trust with those who consume your content. This trust carries long-term benefits, as people tend to prefer credible and authoritative businesses.
If you're struggling with content creation, you can use a variety of tools to generate engaging and valuable content effortlessly.
Building an audience and gaining recognition will require time and effort, but it can be worthwhile in the end.
Tailoring Content to Niche Audiences on Mastodon
Mastodon is a potential alternative to Twitter for market research. Although Twitter lets you search for hashtags and subjects, the algorithm still provides you with an unsorted set of tweets in an irrelevant order.
On the other hand, Mastodon has several self-contained communities, which are based on specific topics such as geography, shared interests, or specialized professions. Finding the right server can give you unfiltered access to content that would be relevant to your target audience or a new market segment.
Mastodon can be used for affiliate marketing, sponsorship, and user-generated content initiatives. Similar to other platforms, you can try to reach out to individual accounts with a certain number of followers, but you may need to do more searching to find the right accounts.
It's important to note that Mastodon has considerably fewer followers than Twitter, so your efforts may not be as successful, and finding influencers of the same magnitude may be challenging.
You can also launch your own Mastodon server, which is more technically complex than creating a YouTube channel or Twitter account. Owning your own Mastodon server offers a significant benefit: you have complete control over it. You can approve each new account, manage content moderation, and influence the discourse, which can make it an effective marketing tool.
Your Engagement Is Crucial on Mastodon
Mastodon does not have an algorithm that prioritizes some posts over others. You can't just publish your content and expect it to get traction. If you want to get noticed, you need to interact with the community. However, since Mastodon is structured into servers, you don't have to waste time sifting through empty spaces to find your clients, both existing and potential.
Are you running a consulting business? Find sites where people discuss consulting, participate in the conversation to showcase your expertise and establish yourself as a trustworthy expert. If you work with photography, join servers where photogs hang out and participate in the discussions.
You might also consider starting your own instance. Mastodon has over 8,000 servers, so there may be one for your specific niche. However, if you search for "journalism" on mastodonservers.net, you'll only find four servers. A search for "marketing" will return just three, with less than 50 users on all of them.
In such cases, you could create your own server, choose a subject that matches your specialization, and start publishing content. Begin by repurposing material from your blog, YouTube channel, or website.
Should You Be on Mastodon?
Navigating the social media landscape for business reasons can be challenging. It is only made more daunting when previously vibrant and functional platforms are threatened by corporate interests. Mastodon is a social media platform that offers a unique experience for users who are looking for something different than the traditional social media giants.
While Mastodon may not have the same user numbers as Twitter or Facebook, it is a growing platform with a population geared towards independence. It offers a decentralized network of servers, called instances, which are run by individuals or small groups of people. Choosing which instance you want to join based on your interests and preferences allows for a uniquely customized experience.
Mastodon can take some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, your time may be well spent learning how to navigate servers on the site if you can find the people in your niche or even start your own community.
One of the benefits of Mastodon is the potential for market research, affiliate marketing, and UGC (user-generated content). Interaction happens in a more natural way, which provides the opportunity to learn about your audience’s behaviors and create more meaningful connections between brands and their target audiences.
However, straight advertising may be difficult, if not impossible, based on the site’s principles. Mastodon is committed to keeping the platform ad-free and user-focused, which means that businesses will need to approach marketing on the platform in a more organic way.
Ultimately, we can’t decide whether you should make an effort to find or establish your community on Mastodon. But if you’re someone who values independence, personalized experiences, and community-driven interactions, then Mastodon may be the perfect platform for you.