Doing Business on Mastodon
Nuance is the key to success on Mastodon and it isn’t as hard as one would think. Doing business and being successful on mastodon requires you to focus on understanding the humans that are on the network, creating a profile people want to follow and writing content that people want to read while being a good “netizen”. Read on for some quick tips to being successful social media marketing on Mastodon.
Mastodon is about connecting humans with humans in a federated social network. This is different than every other social network out there that gives you a limited voice and wants you to pay to play to reach a broader audience. There is no pay to play. You write to humans; you connect with humans and humans interact with your content. They’re not consumers, they’re not audience, they’re people.
That doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in what you have — far from it. They just want to interact with you, they want to see what's coming next, they want to feel part of the community. If you just sell something and run to make a profit — well, Mastodon social media in general isn’t for you and you should stick to hawking your goods via advertising.
If you’re a creative, artist, maker, publisher, writer or even offering services/goods we all know and love — you should treat the community like humans who want to participate with your brand/business/organization.
Part of this “human action” is by writing as if people reading it are human, boosting the posts of people you follow (and even your own to give them a bump) and favoriting posts to send that signal that you’re paying attention and you like what you see.
There is no algorithm to beat. No code controlling who can see what. The secret to success is to participate and boost what you like for others to see and favorite what you want to thank others for creating. In return, you will see the same.
I sometimes call it the “friendlyverse” and yes, it did take me some time to “cool down” from how I socialized on other networks.
Let’s get you started!
#Register to an Instance
Universeodon.com welcomes commerce. You can register to our instance by visiting: https://universeodon.com/auth/sign_up to register. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up.
When you register, your username becomes your social media handle. For example, if you register as jacksautorepair on universeodon.com then your social media handle is @[email protected] — and you can use this to communicate with anyone on our instance as well as the entire fediverse.
Once you register and validate your email — your account is setup up and ready to go. You should now create an introduction post.
It’s highly recommended that you enable 2factor authentication on your account for additional security.
This is your “first post” that tells Mastodon community a little bit about you. This is where you tell your story, talk about your business, your services/products and give reasons for people to be interested in following you.
Login to your instance and create a post and simply make sure you have the hashtag “#introduction” in it. (See example below) — It’s that easy. It’s just a hashtag and people will search for #introductions at time to welcome new users in or find people to follow based on the hashtags they list.
You will want to include hashtags that are relevant to your interests, goods, and services — within reason. (More on this later)
Hashtags are critical for discovery since search is based on hashtags.
I thought this was a simple & focused introduction that gives someone a decent idea of what your account is about. (Some tips on making it better are below)
Tip: Use alt-text on images to describe what is in your images. This helps with accessibility and SEO. All apps — web or mobile should offer functionality to describe images — please use it!
Tip: Use CamelCase on your #Hashtags for accessibility so screen readers can interpret them better. For example, #RetroGaming is better than #retrogaming #VideoGames is better than #videogames.
Create a thoughtful and complete profile page. If you have ever worked on Instagram — it’s similar here. Create custom links to your store/blog/url — Use one of those checkboxes to verify yourself as the official one by following the “rel=me” documentation in your profile page. It’s a wonderful way for people who are interested in participating in the community to follow through and see what you’re about.
The profile metadata section is where you can create links or use them as free form text boxes as well. (There is the hint/guide to getting a green verified link there to the right)
Turns into this on your profile page:
Make sure you have an avatar and a header. Profile completion matters if you expect people to follow you back.
Pin your introduction post that is an #introduction and in that introduction use relevant #hashtags. Use this to give some further context about you — as it will show up in search.
To pin your post, view your profile and click on the “…” on the bottom of your introduction post and select “Pin on profile”
It should feel like your profile is a human or staffed by humans and it should give some trust/presence.
If you need help verifying your business or building a successful page here, reach out to me — we’re happy to help.
Here is what a good profile page looks like — with links, verified address, avatar, and header.
Check out those 63k followers in less than a month (over 100k now since revising this post!). That could be you.
Remember, your profile shouldn’t just be ads — but here is how to do them.
Touchy subject for some, but just be smart. There are government rules here just as there are technically government rules on every other social network that ads should be clearly marked as such. If you haven’t yet noticed, #mastodon uses #hashtags for discovery and for annotating what “toots” or “posts” are about so be nice and if you are publishing an #ad tag it with #ad.
This will allow folks who absolutely despise any thought of ads on their timeline to filter them based on filtering #ad. Don’t worry though, few really do this and if you’re not connecting with them and they don’t discover you, you’re not missing any reach to begin with.
Not everything on mastodon should be ads — in fact, focus on human interaction. Showing an #ad should be a low signal to be honest – remember, we’re #humans.
See what it can look like?
You have (at least) five hundred characters at least on Mastodon. Use them wisely :) (We’ve since upgraded to 1k!)
Again, not everything you post needs to be an ad though, build a community, interact with people, and grow engagement so people will stick around.
The all-important method of discovery for people to find you who aren’t yet following you and you want natural discovery of your business/goods/services/website. Mastodon does not have full-text search for all posts by design. To be found via search, you need to use hashtags. (Posts that are favorited, bookmarked, boosted and your posts & replies are full text searchable though)
Rules of #hashtags:
1. Don’t Spam off topic #hashtags
2. Don’t use 100s of variations of the same #hashtag — go to the search bar and type hashtags that may be relevant and see how to use them wisely.
3. Don’t spam trending hashtags that are irrelevant. We will ban you. You will be defederated. You will have a sad day. This is abuse. This is the reason we can’t have nice things.
Ok... I may have gotten carried away with #3 — but please don’t abuse it. Use your best judgement. If you’re engaging well, you won’t be blocked or defederated for one thing. The ones we’re (the federation, moderators, and admins) after are the ones intentionally abusing the system.
But... when you take the time to build an audience — hashtags aren’t as critical as people BOOSTING your content, LIKING your content, and doing what we hoped the algo would do everywhere else.
HUMANS ARE THE ALGORITHM.
Be smart about hashtags to — use them on the bottom of your post so that people who use screen readers will hear the content in their screen reader and then get audible tags in the end. If you #randomly hashtag in the #middle of your content #it can be #Distracting and is #Annoying — please don’t #Hashtag random non keywords #Too because when someone searches for #it they’re searching for a book or movie, not your use of a pronoun. (Don’t forget to use #CamelCase)
4. Don’t overuse tags. Remember, humans first.
Test and learn what works for you.
There are no real vanity metrics exposed on mastodon for better or worse. Yes, I chose the word “vanity” because well, it’s vanity ;)
Mastodon is built for privacy.
There is no t.co redirect nonsense on mastodon capturing click through data and injecting tracking data. You don’t have to “trust” that clicks are humans/bots or junk or spam. When someone clicks on your URL, they’re going to your URL. (There may be no refer — browsers are biasing for privacy as well)
Privacy Is built in.
We don’t track or compile this information from our users, so we have nothing to expose to you beyond what the API and Apps already expose on post counters and boost metrics.
There are some metrics... (Even if vanity)
Apps are starting to show some engagement metrics. The soon to be released Ivory app for iOS has a beautiful statistics screen.
Ivory for iOS has activity metrics
Focus on engagement.
By participating with humans and connecting & sharing — You should be seeing users buy your product, visit your blog, participate in your community. That’s it. Keep It Simple.
I like the idea of spending 100% of my time engaging an audience and building community vs plugging away at excel sheets, reports and dashboards showing numbers that don’t really make sense or matter in the end.
We’re here to build trust — not to capture you or your audience.
Privacy Matters — and it takes some getting used to for marketers that are used to having an endless supply of metrics to play around with, but I think the world will be better for it.
Remember, the algorithm is you.
When it comes to automation, we think of tools that help content creators and social media marketers manage their content, schedules & resources but still provide a facility to participate with the community.
Buffer is offering an early beta preview of their mastodon automation & scheduling and we’re super excited to follow progress here.
Remember, come off as human when you use these tools and avoid being perceived as a robot.
Participation is the key to success here. No algorithm is going to do it for you. This means a little more work in some respects, but a lot more reach for that effort. You don’t have to game anything; you just need to engage and not engage for engagement's sake. No shadow bans, no weird profile scoring, no algo preference for posting x times a day or posting too much or too little — just do what is necessary to engage your community and enjoy life free from an algorithim.
Opinion time here…
There are Mastodon instances that specialize in “robots” in the purest sense where people will follow you for your daily news bit, joke, meme, or gimmick. Seek these out if purely being a bot is your goal.
If you use a general instance and automate posts where there is no human activity whatsoever then please set your posts to UNLISTED. These will still be sent to your followers, but they will not pollute your instances “local” or “federated” feed. Humans read these feeds — respect that humans want to engage with other humans not be subject to automated non interactive publishing from robots that will never reply.
My recommendation is to bias in favor of knowing humans should be reading your content and that you should be creating content for humans.
If you move to unlisted accounts, please note that they’re not discoverable via tags/search — they only go to your followers. If you have a big following, this may be fine — but if you’re trying to grow an account, I'd avoid any perception of just “being automated”.
Tip: If your account is purely automated, then ask your instance if #bots are allowed and identify your account as a #bot in your account profile.
If you’re a bot, go to preferences and tell the system you’re a bot
#ask for help
Reply here or reach out to me on mastodon. We should collaborate to surface what works, diminish what doesn’t work. Let’s build the internet we want.
In general, the community is extremely helpful so don’t be shy to just ask for help. You can use #fedihelp or #help or #mastohelp #newhere or other hashtags to make your help findable.
Still haven’t joined mastodon? Register for free at https://universeodon.com/
Thank you and welcome to the #fediverse! 👋