I joined Twitter in June, 2007. It turned out to be a very smart move; over the next decade, that network had a massive impact on my professional success. Some of that is because I did interesting or valuable things, but a lot of it was a combination of timing and serendipity.
There are plenty of articles about why you should leave Twitter (or at least, cross-post to Mastodon) for ethical, safety, political, social, and security/privacy reasons. This post won’t do any of those things. Instead, all my arguments are about why it’s smart from a pure business, marketing, and influence perspective to use Mastodon as soon as possible.
10 Reasons Why
#1: Mastodon’s Traffic Surges with Every Twitter Crisis
It’s hard to know if Mastodon will become the canonical, mainstream replacement for Twitter. The new Twitter owner banned tweeting links to Mastodon which certainly implies he’s worried that could happen.
But, it’s also possible Mastodon grows (only) to a few 10s of millions of users, for groups who feel unwelcome, unhappy, or have been banned from that site (like the growing list of journalists kicked-off Twitter as I write this post). What’s easy to see is the regular spikes in signups and activity every time Twitter’s new owner makes moves unfriendly to much of that community
Those spikes are quite similar to growth we’ve seen in other social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, even Google+ all had similar looking charts as their popularity accelerated. Whether Mastodon looks like any of those is impossible to know, but I can guarantee two things:
- Mastodon will probably grow to at least the low 10s-of-millions of users in the years ahead
- The easiest, best time to gain followers and influence is when a network is growing quickly
That leads us to my second argument…
#2: It’s Easiest to Build a Following at the Start of a Network’s Growth Curve
Why is it easier to build a following when user growth is high?
Because new users seek out accounts to follow. People and media publish guides of who to follow. Visibility is higher when user numbers are lower. New and growing networks attract press and attention directed to active and interesting users. And influence snowballs with user growth.
Many folks familiar with my Twitter account today might wonder how a relatively average entrepreneur from Seattle got a half million followers. The answer: I was one of the earliest active folks in my field while Twitter was rapidly growing. My tweets aren’t the most interesting or useful. I’m not a celebrity or a guru. I just had good timing.
Right now, you can, too.
#3: There’s Almost No Learning Curve
The first two weeks I used Mastodon, I didn’t actually realize how it worked. I pretended it was Twitter, just purple instead of blue. That’s how easy it was.
If you grok Twitter, you’ll be fine on Mastodon. Yes, they’re different. Yes, there’s a few nice-to-haves on Twitter that aren’t on Mastodon (e.g. I’m often frustrated that I can’t upload the same videos on both, because Mastodon’s poor server operators have to pay their own bandwidth*). But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s far easier than, say, learning to use TikTok or switching sides of the road between the UK and US.
If you want to learn more, this simple guide to Mastodon has all the details. But, I literally didn’t read it until today.
*This is a good place to remind you that if you use Mastodon, it’s considered good etiquette to donate a few bucks to your server’s operators. You can usually find their Patreon or other donation info on the server About page, e.g. here’s the one for Mastodon.social.
#4: If You Get Value from Twitter, You’ll Get Value from Mastodon
Just like Twitter, a well-curated feed of interesting accounts that bring you joy or business value is a good start. And just like Twitter, if you post interesting, useful, unique, clever things, you can get lots of engagement and amplification.
As an example, here’s my wife, Geraldine DeRuiter, sharing her latest bit of humor writing:
That singular post got a lot of amplification, likes, replies, clicks, and new subscribers, just like her similar post on Twitter (where she has ~100X as many followers, yet received only ~2X the engagement). Mastodon’s “Explore” tab will give you a quick sense of what’s earning engagement and amplification on any given server right now, and you can see for yourself the quantity and diversity of what earns reach.
#5: The Engagement Rate per Follower is Many Multiples of Twitter
One of the great parts of the network right now is how incredibly high the engagement rate per follower is. Comparing my own tweets to my Mastodon posts, I’m getting 1,000X+ reposts, likes, and comments per follower. I’m not an anomaly in this regard.
Sure, you’ll have fewer followers on Mastodon initially. But if you put some effort into marketing your new account (through your website links, newsletter, Twitter username, FB, IG, LinkedIn, whatever), you’ll likely observe the same phenomenon. Mastodon doesn’t have an algorithmic timeline (more on that below), and it doesn’t have ads, Spaces, or other monetization-and-engagement focused features. It’s like 2011-era Twitter: uncomplicated, straightforward, and with almost no barriers between your posts and your followers’ timelines.
Here’s two posts sent at roughly the same time, with nearly the same exact content:
- Mastodon: 19 likes, 2 replies (where I have 2,400 followers)
- Twitter: 2 retweets, 40 likes, 2 replies (where I have 467,000 followers)
That’s 1 engagement per 114 followers on Mastodon. And 1 engagement per 10,614 followers on Twitter.
I’m not sure how a savvy marketer makes the argument that it’s not worth joining and (at least) cross-posting.
#6: It’s a Low-Cost, High-Potential-Return Investment
Setting up your Mastodon account might take you 5 minutes.
Getting familiar with it, following some people there, engaging in the community a bit, and pointing places where you link to your social profiles there might take 2 hours.
Cross-posting from Twitter could take an extra 30-90 seconds.
In exchange, you’re getting:
- A backup if things go (even more) haywire at Twitter
- Access to a a new, growing, highly-engaged audience
- An opportunity for coverage, clicks, influence, and reach
As Ross Simmonds always says: Create once. Distribute forever.
This has rarely been cheaper, easier, or higher-potential way to follow his sage advice. (Side note, Ross?! When are you coming to Mastodon so I can follow you?!)
#7: An Ever-Rising Subset of Your Existing Twitter Audience is Already Looking for You There
In the early days of search engine optimization, it was tough to convince brands, CMOs, and website owners to invest in the practice. One of the best arguments quickly became: people are already looking for you; it’s just a choice as to whether you want them to find you or find your competition.
As Mastodon grows, that’s true there, too. I’m looking for the people I followed on Twitter, hoping they’ll pop up. But in a few months, I won’t be looking anymore. I’ll have my Mastodon network settled and earning a follow will be harder.
That’s true for everyone on the service, and doubly true for anyone who joins during the many spikes in growth. At the very least, have a presence, so that even if you can’t spare a few minutes in your social media marketing schedule to participate, you won’t lose out on the migrating users seeking you out.
#8: No Algorithmic Timeline Means No Drawbacks to Trying and Failing on Mastodon
If you post a lot of content on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, you’ll often find your account rapidly loses visibility and engagement. That’s because those networks punish low-engagement content through their algorithmic feeds.
Guess what Mastodon doesn’t have?
Because of this algorithmic-free timeline, there’s no particular drawback for experimentation on that platform. You can post, fail, and post again with no loss in visibility. Sure, you could annoy your followers to the point that they unfollow, but that’s a far cry from the temperamental, sanity-wrecking-ball that other networks use to threaten creators into playing the game right or losing their streaks.
I’ve found this lack of algorithmic pressure immensely freeing. I can be more of my full, weird, personal-and-professional self on Mastodon. You (and your brand) can be, too.
#9: There’s No Better Time to Network
When new networks start to grow, people who join them early participate in unusual ways. On Mastodon, you can see Neil Gaiman reply to folks simply because he, too, is excited they’re on Mastodon together.
There’s an energy to new and growing networks that makes them feel like “it’s our place,” and “if you’re here, we should probably be friends, or at least help each other.” Mastodon, like early Twitter or early Instagram, has that feeling right now. It won’t last forever.
If you’ve been seeking a place to build relationships with people who can be helpful to your career, your publications, your personal hobbies, whatever, Mastodon might be a superb choice. Interaction is easier to come by there than on Twitter because people’s replies and mentions aren’t nearly as full as they are on Twitter (or Instagram/Facebook/LinkedIn). You can get on some interesting radars right now.
#10: It’s Very Easy to Join (despite the clunky-looking homepage signup experience)
Here’s two simple suggestions:
- Use this list of regional Mastodon instances to find a small, local server that might be a match for you or this list of more mainstream/larger instances with good moderation.
- You can use my invite to Mastodon.social: https://mastodon.social/invite/zSGRgCDa
I’d love to see more marketers there, more folks I know from Twitter, LinkedIn, and the blogosophere, more friends and fans of SparkToro, but more than all of that, I know that while this network is rising rapidly, there’s exciting opportunities. And there’s no logical reason to miss out.