Quitting Twitter? Three Alternatives You Need to Know About  - B2B marketing agency for technology sector | London | Now

Quitting Twitter?

THREE ALTERNATIVES YOU KNEED TO KNOW ABOUT

“To stick with Twitter or to not stick with Twitter?”

– that is the question

Amid speculation about Twitter’s imminent collapse, our morality compasses are all in a spin. Who’s running it given Elon Musk has sacked around half of Twitter’s staff? What is Musk’s endgame for his $44bn purchase – the data or the platform? Will we have to pay to use Twitter? Will we be bombarded with ads for Tesla? Are all the people we follow plotting their own #Twexits? Trust levels are at an all-time low. No wonder people are struggling with their Twitter strategies.

Hands up – we’re not sure where this leaves us. Although, frankly, all this talk of #RIPTwitter has come at a great time for us as Ken screwed up our NowComms Twitter account last month when he gave Elon the wrong date of birth and we got deactivated!
So, do we start again from scratch on Twitter or seize the opportunity as early adopters to try alternative spaces for our fix of news and opinions?

We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of staying on Twitter and the three main alternatives you need to know about. Then we’ll let you ‘under the NOW hood’ (aka NOW|insider) to find out what we really think.

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Twitter

should we stay or should we go now?

From a business point of view, we are (were) on Twitter to connect with like-minded people, join in conversations and ultimately generate awareness for our business. But how much time and space will Twitter be dedicating to e-commerce or ads when Musk’s talk so far has been on the importance of free speech and user experience? He’s also spoken about his frustration at how slow the platform has been to innovate, compared to TikTok or Instagram, so expect more features and functionality. Will it become a platform that continues to help businesses, individuals and communities grow or will it become another Facebook? Elon Musk’s tweets referred to accounts being able to monetise their own content as well as adding longer form content. There’s also been talk of upgrading Twitter search – with rumours of making it SEO-friendly. With so many changes on the horizon, it’s hard to trust the platform at all.

If you’re hanging in there with Twitter, there are rumours about changes to account verification on the platform, which includes existing accounts. We’ve already seen the unpopular launch of the paid-for Blue Verified scheme. Musk has announced that he wants to purge the platform of bots, remove trolls and do away with the anonymity of accounts.

 

It’s thought he might introduce government identity verification as part of the account set-up.  So in theory governments will be able to deal with hate speech on the platform directly. But many existing account owners may not be that keen to hand over yet more information to the government or simply might not be bothered. Either way, you’ll need to watch out for a dive in the number of your Twitter followers.

We’re in unprecedented times. The world’s richest man clearly hasn’t bought the platform with over 300 million users to make money. No one knows what his motivation is. So if you’d rather not see what a corporation wants you to see, or indulge its new owner on his platform, what are the alternatives to Twitter?

Mastodon

What is Mastodon?

Goodbye blue bird of Twitter, hello blue mammoth of Mastodon! Before you even attempt to sign up for Mastodon, the first thing to understand is that it is not set up like other social media platforms. It’s part of a collection of free, decentralised group of servers referred to as the “fediverse,” short for “federated universe” – a federated network which operates in a similar way to email.” The decentralised open-source software lets users set up communities/servers (“Instances”) to communicate with each other. So it’s an open project and not controlled by one corporation, which has its own pros and cons.

How do you use Mastodon?

When you set up a Mastodon account (tip – it’s easier to set up on the desktop version than the app), you have to pick a server to join first – you’re asked questions about what you would care about appearing on your feed, then, depending on your answers, you can join an ‘Instance’ tailored to your content preferences or location. Moderation on Mastodon is carried out by the owner of the server who can set their own rules. There’s no official verification system like on Twitter so you don’t need to hand over any personal data to sign up.

There are no algorithms or ads to waste your time – you can follow anyone across any Mastodon server from a single account and see their posts in chronological

order. You get three timelines – your Home one shows you posts from people that you follow; your Local one shows posts from all users in your server/instance and your Federated timeline shows you all public posts from users that people in your server/instance follow.

Mastodon has the same format of ‘micro-blogging’ as Twitter except that, instead of tweeting, you can post or “toot” up to 500 characters at a time instead of only 280. In terms of media, Mastodon only supports images, videos, polls and audio while Twitter supports all of those plus “Spaces” and GIFs. You can add up to 4 images in one post and videos or audio of any length (file limit size of 40 megabytes). You can build a thread on Mastodon by replying to your own posts.

Mastodon includes a number of Twitter functions such as favourites, replies, retweets, bookmarks and hashtags. Mastodon retweets are called “boosts” but (deliberately) don’t include quote tweets. Lists exist on Mastodon but work differently from Twitter as you are only able to add people to a list if you’re already following them. And DMs on Mastodon are not private messages into a DM inbox – they are only @username posts.

You can follow people outside your ‘Instance’ but you have to enter their username in the search box on your server to find them first, then follow them. There’s no clicking on the follow button on their profile as you do on Twitter.

CounterSocial

What is CounterSocial?

CounterSocial proclaims itself the no-nonsense alternative to Twitter. Established in 2017, it has a similar format to Twitter but the app has no ads or sponsored content, bots, internet trolls and a “zero tolerance to hostile nations.” Its founder ‘The Jester’ blocks six countries with high rates of cyber attacks: Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Pakistan. It looks a bit different to other social platforms – it resembles Hootsuite or Tweetdeck with 5 feed columns or feeds that refresh. You can alter the order of the columns, and filter content based on keywords and phrases.

How do you use CounterSocial?

When you sign up your user name is fixed and cannot be changed or reused by anyone else as a security precaution, though you can update your display name (up to 24 characters).

Your bio has a character limit of 500 and you can include hashtags plus your avatar image and a banner image. You can include up to 4 items at the top of your bio – eg your location, pronouns, website or social links or labels. Your CounterSocial profile is private by default but you can enable your public landing page (PLP).

There is a 500-character limit for text posts and you can include links, hashtags, polls, content warnings and emojis. You’ll need to post GIFs from a third party as there is no

 

built-in GIF search engine. You can reply to posts and also boost posts – equivalent to the retweet or share options. And there’s an edit button! Boosts are shown to your followers only, not to the ‘Community Firehose’ – the community feed which includes everyone’s public posts. Clicking on the favourite star shows that you have read the post. Use popular hashtags to make your posts more discoverable. Similar to Twitter you can also create a thread of posts by just replying to your preceding post. You can also pin up to 5 posts to your profile and can access moderation tools including the Mute, Block and Report functions.

Filtering helps you get rid of any content you’d rather not see. CounterSocial (CoSo) lets you curate feeds from your favourite accounts through Lists (again, similar to Twitter). CoSo doesn’t track its users and does not let third-parties track you either as all outbound links are automatically sanitised to remove any embedded tracking parameters.

There is a pro version of CounterSocial which includes some neat features that other platforms don’t have, including CounterShare (file sharing), COSOGuard (identity theft alerts), COSO Groups (create your own groups) and use of COSO Realms where you can create your own 3D virtual reality spaces and invite others to join you. Pro users can also set their post to ‘self-detonate’ by clicking on the timer icon at the bottom of the post box.

Hive Social

What is Hive Social?

Launched in 2019 by Kassandra Raluca Pop, Hive is run by a small team.The app had over one million installations by mid-November. At first glance, Hive feels like a blend of Twitter, Instagram and even Myspace (you can link Apple Music/Spotify to your profile so it plays a song when someone opens your profile!)

How do you use Hive Social?

On your profile, you’ll have a user name and a display name, together with a profile picture and cover photo. You can also choose a colour theme so all your profile buttons will match. Your posts are shown on your profile in a format which looks similar to an Instagram grid. For all your posts you can not only change the privacy settings to choose who can see them, you can also decide who can comment on them.

You can like/heart posts and also repost other people’s posts much as you would retweet on Twitter. You can follow people and they can follow you back.

There is no limit on how much text you can post plus you can attach several photos and videos, or include a GIF or a poll. As well as including multiple hashtags, you’re also able to put links into your posts or captions. There are no options to pin your posts, however. Unlike Instagram there are no stories, you can’t pay to boost your posts and there are no blue ticks for verified users as you would find on Twitter.

Navigation on Hive is pretty intuitive and straightforward for Twitter users with tabs for the main timeline/feed, a “Discover” tab for exploring new content, your own profile tab and a tab for notifications, with a + button to create a post. And unlike Mastodon, all users are in the same place so, in theory, it’s easier to find your Twitter friends on Hive.

Your home feed is chronological (not algorithm-influenced like Twitter) and is a mixture of text and images. It feels like a happy space – there’s not much politics or arguing on here so far. Pop has said she is determined to make the app a safe environment for its users so on Hive, content such as nudity is allowed only as long as you tag your post as Not Safe for Work or NSFW, indicating either violent or sexual content.

Want to see what we really thought of Mastodon, CounterSocial and Hive as alternatives to Twitter?

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Orla Harty, Cantillon