What Is Mastodon?
Mastodon was founded in 2016 by German software developer Eugen Rochko. Unlike Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or most any other social media site, Mastodon is a nonprofit, meaning that it's not owned or run by one individual or an individual company like the sites listed above.
Mastodon might look like a clone of Twitter at first glance, and in some ways I guess you can say it is, but those similarities don't go very deep at all. In fact, the underlying system behind Mastodon is way more complex than that of something like Twitter. Mastodon is considered a "decentralized platform" and is defined as a "federated network which operates very similarly to email."
When you first create your account, you choose a server; similar to how you choose to open an email account at Gmail or anywhere else, which generates your profile’s address. So, for example, if you sign up for Mastodon via the allthingstech.social server, then your Mastodon address will be @[your username]@allthingstech.social. For example, my account is firstname.lastname@example.org or allthingstech.social/@cliffwade Both links point to the same URL, so you can click it and see my profile.
But no matter which server you sign up with, you will be able to communicate with users from any other server, just like how Gmail users email Hotmail users and vice versa. However, some servers might have blocked other servers (perhaps if it’s an unsavory group), which would mean you can’t communicate with anyone from the blocked server.
But all of this is for a completely different post as I want to focus on tips and tricks for new users that will help get you started and hopefully get you connected with others in a better, quicker way.
Tip 1: Upload A Profile Picture
This should be common sense on any new social media platform that you go to assuming the site allows you to. It doesn't have to be a selfie or a picture actually taken of you. It can be something that helps others quickly identify your posts. This can be anything you want it to be. Just pick something that you enjoy, that you feel represents you or that has a story behind it.
People associate profile pictures with a name, and they get used to it. This will help you build an audience quicker and make it to where anyone you follow or interact with more likely to click on your name to read your bio and possibly follow you back.
To enhance this a little further, I strongly recommend you add a profile banner as well like you see at the top of my profile in the image below. Again, make it what you want. Just remember, little things like this show other users that you've taken a bit of time to let others know a bit about yourself.
Tip 2: Fill Out Your Bio
This and tip 1 likely go hand in hand. Without a bit of information provided in your bio to let others know who you are, what you do, what you like or anything else of importance, you're less likely to get interaction or follows from others. While this certainly doesn't guarantee that you'll get interaction or follows, it's the best place to start when it comes to Mastodon, or most any social media platform for that matter.
Tip 3: Make An Introductory Toot (Post)
Again, just like on every other social media platform, introducing yourself helps others get to know a bit about you. There's no specific guidelines as to what you need to say in this introductory toot (post), so feel free to say what you want. Make it serious, make it funny, whatever you feel is best.
This introductory post is something that can be shared every couple of weeks so that the newer users to Mastodon might get a chance to see it as well. It's also recommended that you pin it to your profile as you can have up to 5 posts pinned on your profile. That number may however vary depending on what instance you are on.
Tip 4: Follow Anyone On Mastodon That You Followed On Twitter
There are several websites out there that can check your Twitter following and follower list and find out who of those have a Mastodon reference in their profile there, leading you to find their account on Mastodon itself. This is obviously a great way to start off your Mastodon journey by following some familiar people.
A couple of websites you can use for this are FediFinder as well as MastoFind. There are likely many others but I've personally used both of these with good success when I first came over to Mastodon several months ago.
This doesn't necessarily mean you need or should follow everyone that you followed on Twitter, as you might very well want to start fresh and only follow new folks you find on Mastodon. However, most of us have people we have become really good friends with or interact with regularly and if some of those have moved over completely to Mastodon, then it's often important to keep those relationships going.
Using the sites above will help you find others who have added a Mastodon link to their Twitter profile and you should add your Mastodon profile link to your Twitter profile for this same reason.
Tip 5: Use Hashtags When You Toot (Post)
Since there is no algorithm on Mastodon, the best way for users to find things they like is via hashtags. Using hashtags in your posts gives everyone the ability to not only search for keywords of things they like or want to see, but you can also follow hashtags within Mastodon which can really add to the overall experience of the platform.
Some people say to only use up to three hashtags, others say to use as many as you want. I'm not sure if there is a "correct" way to do this or not, but I'd say use what you want and judge changing it based on interaction or lack of interaction.
Another thing I did to enhance this when I first joined Mastodon was to create a toot (post) with regards to the hashtags I like to use, view and search for. This too allows others to know a bit more about you, who you are, what things you like and what things you might be posting or commenting on around Mastodon.
Come Join Us On AllThingsTech.social
With all of this said with regards to how to setup your profile and make the best impression from the get go, and you're looking to join the Mastodon platform, we at AllThingsTech.social would love to have you!
Regardless of which Mastodon app you choose to use, or if you decide to create your account on the web version of Mastodon, you can enter the instance name above and then click Ok/Enter or whatever, and then you should be able to create an account on the AllThingsTech.social instance.
These are just five of the first tips and tricks that I learned and preached about when I first came over to Mastodon and I feel it helped and still helps me greatly today even after 3+ months of being on the platform.
There are many, many other things you can do to make your experience better and to possibly grow quicker and I'd be more than happy if you would share those with me if you'd like. Maybe if I get enough suggestions of other tips and tricks for new users, or even experienced users, I could make another post here and list them and give you credit for your suggestions.
Feel free to use the contact form here: Contact Us if you'd like to submit something and I'll certainly save it and take a look at it.
Follow Cliff On Mastodon!