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Mastodon - Our View

When you first start up on Mastodon it feels very confusing and disjointed – lots of new would-be users won’t “get” the ‘fediverse’ concept or how to choose a server. We can imagine many just give up at the first step with the very odd onboarding process.

We also found searching for people and topics a bit frustrating. Compared to Twitter, Mastodon is a lot less intuitive to use and, crucially, there’s no full-text search on there. You can search for a hashtag and find any posts that use that hashtag, but searching for just agile marketing or sustainability won’t give you any results. It was also hard to find local posts too unless they were specifically hashtagged. When we did find posts we were interested in, there was very little volume – Mastodon’s user base is a fraction of a percentage of the size of Twitter’s (2 million monthly active users v Twitter’s 300 million). Eg #sustainability only had 98 posts and 84 people talking about it, #agile had 22 posts, #elearning only 10 posts, and #socialmediamarketing zero – and none really relevant to us in the UK or for B2B in general.

It’s also hard to find people you know on Mastodon – so you won’t be able to reproduce your Twitter lists, though there are third-party tools that can help you find your Twitter tribe on Mastodon. You can also find people via the Mastodon directory lists of people who post often, although there are not that many UK-based there. Furthermore, it’s hard to know how many (real) famous names are on Mastodon as the site isn’t verifying people. Because everyone is on different servers, it does feel a bit “spread out” compared to Twitter, so it is tricky to get your posts seen by lots of people. For those who like sharing and commenting on existing posts as a quote tweet, you won’t be able to do that on Mastodon. Mastodon prefers you to reply to the person who created the post in the first place rather than users speaking to their own audience.

On the plus side, there are no ads. If you do manage to find your topics/people on there, you might find yourself posting to real people and having real conversations, not tweeting into the ether as it can sometimes feel like on Twitter.

Mastodon was called the “Twitter killer” at one point. We don’t think it will live up to this until it makes it easier to sign up and also creates a better understanding of the ‘fediverse’ concept.

CounterSocial – Our View

Coming from Mastodon, CounterSocial is much more intuitive to use and also has some really nice features that other platforms don’t have, both on the free and pro versions. It does feel like the founders have actually listened to user feedback – eg you can actually edit posts, unlike Twitter!

The platform feels quite joyful in comparison to Twitter – it’s definitely not the angry place that Twitter can be – there are discussions but no spam, trolls or even many arguments on there. The choice to filter out content gives you the feeling that you have more control over what you see. You can build your own (chronological) hashtag feeds around your interests so it’s easier to start having conversations with other people at the time on topics you are actually interested in.

CounterSocial doesn’t inflict trending topics on you as Twitter does and it feels less ‘shouty’ when it comes to the news. A nice antidote to most other platforms, you get to see the platform’s latest posts on the Community Firehose chronologically, without an algorithm in sight. Also, when you view a post for the first time, you can’t see whether that post has garnered lots of engagement, so you can’t be influenced by big numbers of likes or shares before giving your own reaction. There are no ads on there either.

So, what’s not to like? It feels like it should be the perfect social platform in so many ways but it’s lacking in scale, for the moment at least, so it’s quite hard to find people (at least in the UK) who are interested in the things that we would be looking for on Twitter.

Hive Social – Our View

If you’re finding the leap from Twitter to Mastodon or even CounterSocial too much, then Hive’s interface and sign-up is the best of the bunch. It takes the best elements of other social networks and is easy to navigate the tabs although the search was not that great for the topics we were looking for. The biggest bugbear was the techy side – it does take a frustratingly long time to load your home feed and once it does, it’s glitchy. The app is mobile/tablet only at the moment too. As the app grows in popularity there are concerns about levels of support if there is just a team of 2-3 working on it.

On the negative side, there are concerns about impersonation as there are non-unique usernames and quite vague terms of use on Hive. There is no two-factor authentication either yet.

We think that people are feeling frustrated with Twitter and will try out other platforms. Younger Gen Z users may stay on the newer networks which are run by independent founders rather than large tech brands, but we think the majority will ultimately head back to Twitter – the ‘watercooler on the world’ – at least until the other platforms have scaled up significantly and addressed their tech issues. Each of the alternatives has its merits, which Twitter would do well to learn from, but will Mastodon, CounterSocial or Hive be able to create the same conversations and communities at scale that Twitter managed to foster in its heyday?

As with all social platforms, start by working out if the audience you want to target really does hang out on these new platforms. At the moment Mastodon, CounterSocial and Hive are not really marketing platforms – they’re more about connecting with customers. Individuals from a company might be able to share information about what they do with their community if it’s helpful and relevant, but spammy ads will be blocked.

Whichever you choose, don’t forget to introduce yourself with the #introductions hashtag.

If these three are not for you, then there’s always BeReal, recently voted Apple’s App of the Year. Or failing that, back to Meta!

As for us, we’re lurking on the new platforms but are off to set up a new Twitter account for the short term at least!

 

“This is the creative team we trust to deliver the compelling content that makes us really distinctive in today’s competitive landscape.”

 

Estelle Milosavljevic, Crossknowledge