As much as I want to move over to Mastodon full time, there’s one thing I feel that is massively holding it back. Yes, you can laud the big things about federations and freedom as much as you want. However, one thing I’ve seen hanging out in the fringes of the Fediverse that will ultimately hold Mastodon back is the hostility toward brands.
Welcoming The Crowd
If you’re already up in arms because of that opening, ask yourself why. What is it about a brand that has you upset? Don’t they have the same right to share on the platform as the rest of us? I will admit that not every person on Mastodon has this outward hostility toward companies. However I can also sense this feeling that brands don’t belong.
It reminds me a lot of the thinly veiled distaste for companies that some Linux proponents have. The “get your dirty binary drivers out of my pristine kernel” crowd. The ones that want the brands to bend to their will and only do things the way they want. If you can’t provide us the drivers and software for free with full code support for us to hack as much as we want then we don’t want you around.
Apply that kind of mentality to brands venturing into the Fediverse. Do you want them to share their message? Share links to content or help people join webinars to learn more about the solutions? Or do you only want the interns and social media professionals to be their authentic selves and pretend they aren’t working for a bigger company?
The fact is that in order to get people to come to Mastodon to consume content you’re going to need more than highly motivated people. You’re going to need people that are focused on sharing a message. You’re really going to want those that are focused on outreach instead of just sharing random things. Does that sound a lot like the early days of Twitter to you? Not much broadcast but lots of meaningless status updates.
That’s the biggest part of what’s holding Mastodon back. There’s no content. Yes, there’s a lot of sharing. There’s lots of blog posts or people clipping articles to put them out there for people to read. But it’s scattered and somewhat unsupported. There’s no driving force to get people to click through to sites with deeper information or other things that brands do to support campaigns.
You’re going to disagree with me and I don’t blame you one bit. You may not like my idea about getting more brand support on Mastodon but you can’t deny that the platform needs users with experience to grow things. And if you keep up the hostility you’re going to find people choosing to stay on platforms that support them instead of wading into the pool where they feel unwelcome.