PADT is ready to toot on Mastodon. We have been on the internet for 28 years, and we have created accounts on various social media platforms as soon as they start having significant users. LinkedIn is by far the most active for us, with some interaction on Facebook and even less on Twitter. However, with all the hullabaloo on the bird site, I decided to learn a bit about Mastodon. Low traffic in a dumpster fire is still traffic in a dumpster fire.
I started by making a personal account, and that worked fine. Then I saw that someone had created a server for businesses, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have one more outlet for news and useful content that PADT shares with the mechanical engineering world. So we created an account on mstdn.business and set up the profile. Now that it is up and running, we will now publish links to new blog posts, press releases, job postings, and any other information people might find useful on this channel along with Linkedin and Twitter.
You can find us at:
- or, https://mstdn.business/@padtinc
A bit about Mastodon
Mastodon is basically an open-source, distributed microblogging site. It has features similar to Twitter, is missing a few, and adds a few. You post things using @’s and #’s. It’s distributed so different people make different servers, and you create your account and publish your content from there. Then all the servers belong to a federation that allows you to follow and see content from any server or user you don’t block. The rules for each server are made by the server, and the server admins control what content is shown or blocked. And serer admins block other servers if they violate the rules on their server.
You can learn more about Mastodon on their page and on the Wikipedia page (not the extinct creature or the heavy metal band). Tech Crunch also has a great post, and although it has not kept up to date with all the recent changes, it does explain the platform from a more technical point of view.
There are a few things worth noting that make it very unique that you should consider before you add a business or even a personal account.
- No one “owns” Mastodon. Each server is owned by volunteers who offer access to that server at no charge. (You can and should donate on most). Servers are also called “instances.”
- Mastodon is a federation of connected servers called the “Fediverse.” That is why people’s ID has two @’s. The first is the userID and the second is the server – @padtinc is on @mstdn.business
- Some servers are open to everyone, some are designed for people with common interests, and some are private. You can move your account between servers.
- The rules for conduct and moderation are unique to each instance and are enforced by the admins on that instance. In essence, the community moderates content. This is the big experiment. Can thousands of dumpsters all catch on fire?
- There is no advertising or boosting, and there are no algorithms to game. You post your content, it puts it out there. If someone is looking for the hashtags or someone they follow re-posts (“boosts”) your post , they will find it.
- This federation of separate servers is not big. Just over 5.7 million users worldwide, and 2 million active users, when I write this on December 19th, 2022. You can track it here.
Speaking of which, content moderation around misinformation, harassment, and censorship is decentralized and unique in the Fediverse, so if it is important to you, read up. And when you pick an instance as a host for your account (see below) read their rules and make sure you are OK with them. I’m on a server in the EU, so the rules are pretty tight.
So far, Mastodon has been very non-business-oriented. You can’t advertise, and there are no algorithms to boost your posts. So, it is still not really known how effective posting there will be in reaching customers and prospects. And until recently, many instances were for individuals only, not companies.
This past week I noticed that a European company decided to make a business-oriented server called mstdn.business. So, I created a PADT account on that server. More on them below.
Setting up our Mastodon Account
It is very easy to set up your account. And remember, no one should be charging you for anything to have access to our use Mastodon. Here are the steps we followed (note, use a web browser on a computer. You can do it on your phone, but it is a pain):
- Find your server
- Poke around on the Mastodon server page.
- Some of the bigger servers are now full, so keep looking
- When you find one you like, click on “Create Account.”
- Click on the “… About” menu item on the left to get focus and the rules for the instance.
- Remember to read their rules and make sure they allow “brands” for accounts.
- If you want to use the server we are using, use this link.
- When you find your new home, click on “Create Account.”
- Accept the Rules
- Fill out the form
- Your Display name is what shows up at the top of your account, username is the @name.
- Use a work email and give a password.
- It will send you an email to verify. This can take a bit of time, so be patient.
- Check your junk/spam folder. My verification went there.
- When you get it, click on the verify link.
- Set up your profile
- Once logged in, go to Preferences
- Click Profile
- Here you can set up what people see. It’s all pretty standard for social platforms. Make an Avatar of your logo, and upload a header image.
- One of the more useful features is they let you display four chunks of “metadata.” This is a label and then some data, usually a link. I listed our website, this blog, our 3D Printing Glossary, and our LinkedIn page.
- If you stick a link to Mastodon on any page you link here, it “verifies” it, which is pretty cool for business. Check out the verify information next to the metadata table for more on this.
- Lots of other options. Play around.
- Start following, and ask others to follow you.
- You can’t post your new Mastodon account on Twitter (well, maybe you can. Between the time I started and finished this post, the rules flipped at least once.), but it looks like it works on LinkedIn. If you have a newsletter, you can also share it there, and you can, of course, put it on your website. I added a Mastodon link in the footer on our website.
- Start posting!
- I note on “post” vs “toot.” Originally they called a post a toot, cause it was a play on “tweet” and the elephant-like mastodon. But, once actual cool people started using it they decided it was kind of silly, so most people now say “post”
About the Mastodon Instance: mstdn.business
As mentioned above, this has not been a business-oriented platform, and many instances banned company brands. So when I saw mstdn.business come across my feed, I jumped on the chance to be a pioneer and put our brand out there.
It is hosted on a German cloud, so EU and German laws apply. The site states that it is a “Business-friendly Mastodon instance, open for everyone interested to contribute with their real name, business, brand or startup to build a professional community. Hosted on OVHCloud in Frankfurt, Germany by SMEntTech.”
Sounds good to me!
Also, for a business, it doesn’t allow NSFW content, does not tolerate trolls, and like most servers on Mastodon, does not allow racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or xenophobia. The same goes for false or misleading info. It also doesn’t allow spam.
Check out the About Page for more.
Why is this important? Because, as a federated network, other instances could ban you along with a bad actor on the instance you use. So you want to be in a nice, respectable neighborhood. Less chance of this dumpster catching on fire and singing your brand.
You are free to use any instance you want, but if you want to try mstdn.business, use this link:
Some Final Thoughts on Mastodon for Businesses
The recent growth of Mastodon is being driven by chaos on Twitter. No matter where you stand in that battle, it is a battle, and people are fleeing in outrage or just not wanting to deal with the drama. However, what makes Mastodon attractive, is what makes it questionable as a way for businesses to reach people.
First off, it’s free and has no advertising. And there is no algorithm you can game to get presented to people you want to reach. So you can’t proactively reach people. They need to find you. Will enough people follow your company to make it worthwhile? Time will tell.
Second, lots of people are on Twitter because lots of people are on Twitter. More people vote on cat picture polls on Twitter every five minutes than belong to the entire Mastodon Fediverse. When government entities, large corporations, musical artists, celebrities, and significant “influencers” move over, we may see traction. Until then, it is a way to get more SEO back to your website 🙂 I see it as “why not.”
And lastly, and most importantly, it is pleasant. People are nice and helpful. If you don’t remember the early days of other social media and web portals, it was fun to be early and with a small group. We will publish our announcements here, just like we do on LinkedIn and Twitter. LinkedIn has been a very useful tool for us, and our blog has been a mainstay of how we give back and reach out to our community for fifteen years or more and our newsletter is still well read.
But who knows, we may all be hanging out on Mastodon in a year. You never know, and it never hurts to experiment and try something new. And yes, it does make me think of the movie “Ice Age” and the subtext about following the herd and family. And yes, I realize mastodons are extinct. I didn’t pick the name.
So, go create your account, then follow me and PADT and I’ll follow you back.
See you in the Fediverse!