Interest in Mastodon, the open source social media platform, has spiked as users search out Twitter alternatives post-Elon-Musk-purchase. But will users be safer on Mastodon? Will advertisers and influencers follow?
Right now, Twitter users are hedging their bets. Yes, they’re setting up new accounts on other social media platforms, but they’re not yet deleting their Twitter accounts. Indeed, Twitter is telling advertisers that its monetisable active daily user tally is growing, not shrinking.
Setting up a Mastodon account is one thing. Actively posting and engaging in content on the platform day after day, month after month, is a different proposition altogether.
Advertisers want two things: reach and relevance. They want their messages carried at scale, to communities who are likely to buy their products.
Mastodon doesn’t currently have that scale. User numbers have near-doubled in the past week since Elon Musk bought Twitter, but they remain low. Mastodon carries just 1,287,000 monthly active users. That’s around 0.5% of Twitter’s daily active users.
By swapping Twitter for Mastodon, social media users are trading toxicity for the quirky and the rickety. Mastodon has struggled to keep up with the infrastructure capacity needed to cope with the influx of new accounts.
A word or caution. A rush away from fears of a moderation-lite Twitter might not be a rush towards the effective moderation system many hope for.
Mastodon is a federation of servers (a fediverse) each with its own community guidelines. Each has its own way of policing those guidelines. Mastodon has no unilateral power to force server owners to comply with even basic content moderation standards.
Twitter alternatives such as Gettr, TruthSocial, Gab, and Parler are populated by right-wing, alt-right, and far-right voices - especially those who have already been banned from mainstream social media platforms. This limits the platforms’ appeal to many mainstream advertisers.
Mastodon offers many parallels with the future promise of Web3. It’s decentralised, interoperable, and the people who set up servers create their own rules and regulations specific to that server.
Mastodon doesn’t carry advertisements. There’s nothing to prevent a user from posting promotional material though, subject to the rules of the server they’re posted to. This makes it fertile ground for influencer marketing. However, as yet there are no influencer discovery tools specific to helping advertisers identify and recruit Mastodon content creators.
I shared more thoughts on Mastodon in this article by Media Leader recently.