How to switch to Mastodon, the best Twitter alternative

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has its users looking for an alternative. Many people are considering the decentralized and ad-free Twitter alternative, Mastodon. Here’s how to switch and migrate from Twitter to Mastodon.

Mastodon

Twitter users concerned about Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform, controversial tweets, treatment of employees, and future viability of the service are looking for an alternative. They are also looking for an alternative that isn’t closed and centrally controlled by billionaires and large corporations such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. That desire has shined a new light on federated social media, which functions similarly to email.

Federated social media is decentralized, ad-free, and allows users to follow and communicate with other users across disparate platforms. It’s similar to if a Twitter account could follow and read posts on Facebook and vice-versa. Several federated platforms exist today, and they use a protocol called ActivityPub to communicate.

The most popular federated platform is Mastodon, and many people looking to move away from Twitter are considering a switch to it. Here’s what Twitter users need to know if they’re thinking of moving to Mastodon.

How to signup for Mastodon

Mastodon is federated. That means anyone can run a social media server. Most people sign up at Mastodon’s official server at mastodon.social, but there are many more to choose from. And since the primary instance is overwhelmed with new users, I recommend finding a different server that matches your interests.

It doesn’t matter which server you choose because your social profile can follow and communicate with all profiles on all servers. That’s the beauty of decentralized social media.

If you want complete control of your social presence and want to use your own domain, you can host your own Mastodon instance. Running your own server also gets you closer to a concept Aral Balkan, activist and co-founder of Small Technology Foundation, calls the Small Web. It’s a web that puts individuals in control of their online experience instead of a small handful of giant corporations.

Coywolf has an instance at coywolf.social, and it uses (and recommends) Masto Host for hosting it, but there are several other hosting options. The cost of running your own Mastodon server is about $6/mo. That’s $2 cheaper than paying Elon Musk for a blue check mark that has now lost its original purpose and meaning.

How to find and follow people on Mastodon

The most challenging part of using Mastodon is getting started. Since people can have a social presence on any federated server – it’s decentralized – there isn’t a single place to search for people. However, once you get going, start following people, and practice the tips shared in this article, using Mastodon becomes more accessible and fun. You might say, Twitter-like, but without all the vitriol that comes with Twitter.

Complete your profile

The first thing you should do before anything else is complete your profile. At the very least, you must include your real name or pseudonym that people will be familiar with, upload a profile image, and add a descriptive bio. Otherwise, it will significantly reduce the number of people that will allow you to follow them and will also follow you back.

I also recommend adding a website if you have one and then verifying the link. Once the site is verified, it will get a checkmark next to it and change the background to green. That is Mastodon’s method of proving to other people who you are.

Mastodon profile for Jon Henshaw
Jon Henshaw’s Mastodon profile (henshaw.social/@jon) with verified sites

Finding people to follow on Mastodon

  1. Find Mastodon servers based on interest and peruse people via the Explore page. Mastodon.social, indieweb.social, and writing.exchange are good places to start.
  2. Find people based on topic interest at Fedi Directory, Fediverse Info, and Trunk. If you’re interested in SEO, Coywolf has created a list of federated SEOs.
  3. Request to be added to the lists previously mentioned so other people can find and follow you based on interest.
  4. Search and click on hashtags. Hashtags are one of the primary methods for finding posts and people with similar interests.
  5. Actively engage with others by following and boosting, liking, and replying to posts. The more you engage, the quicker your network will grow.
  6. Actively post and liberally use hashtags to help people discover your content.
  7. Write an introduction post using the hashtag #introduction.

Migrating Twitter friends to Mastodon

Finding friends that were on Twitter can be tricky. There are a few services that can help. The three primary web apps are Debirdify, Twitodon, and Fedifinder. They should be used cautiously, though, because they require permitting access to your Twitter account. And since those types of tools are suitable vectors for phishing, be even more cautious about new tools stating they can do the same thing.

The safest and best way to find friends on Twitter that are also using Mastodon is to make sure they know you’re using Mastodon via Twitter. If you kept your Twitter profile activated, mention and link to your Mastodon profile in your bio or in a pinned tweet.

Additional Mastodon tips

Here are some additional Mastodon tips that may help your experience on the social platform.

  1. If you want to control who can follow you, set the follower preferences to Request.
  2. To keep your feed focused on your interests, use the mute feature liberally.
  3. If someone annoys you, mute or block them.
  4. If someone is abusive, report them. Reports only go to the admin and moderators of the instance you’re using.

Mastodon Resources

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Jon Henshaw

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @[email protected]