I was on Identi.ca back when it first launched and I joined Mastodon a few years ago. Identi.ca had a decent number of FLOSS devs at the time, but by the time of Mastodon, Twitter was ascendant. So “no one” was on Mastodon. Even a few of the FLOSS developers I followed on Mastodon never posted on there. Network effects – it’s the reason almost everyone who threatens to leave Facebook never does; social media is only useful if you can be social (ie your friends/acquaintances are on it).
Now that Elon Musk has been seeming to drive lots of folks away from Twitter, a fair amount are looking at Mastodon. This isn’t news and there have been a million think pieces about it. There have also been think pieces about why some folks will bounce off of Mastodon and back to Twitter or some other service. (Or decide that microblogging is not really their thing and just stick to Instagram or whatever the kids are doing nowadays)
No, what I’m curious about – and intend to explore here – is what happens to the creatives who wish to leave Twitter and its insanity and abuse. Let me start off by defining what I mean by creatives – I mean folks who work in books, TV shows, movies, or as comedians. While some of these folks (see John Scalzi) use social media primarily in the way that everyone else does, most of the folks in the creative class are primarily on social media as part of their promotional process. They need to be on Twitter and Facebook and so on in order to let people know about their next book or the next show they’re doing.
Based on various podcast interviews and articles, it’s evident that there are many folks who are constantly harassed on Twitter and yet remain simply because that is the one place they can broadcast out to everyone that the next product is out. It’s clear that these folks would benefit from moving to something like Mastodon where they could join (or host) an instance that would have protective rules and wouldn’t federate those who were prone to harassing them. And yet, the very features of federation would also seem to make the platform useless for promotional purposes.
There is no way to post on the Fediverse and have it potentially reach everyone. By its very nature, the widest reach to anonymous people will be the local timeline. Well, at least on Mastodon.social, you can see the global timeline, but it flies by so quickly (at least on the web interface) so as to be useless to read anything on there. Even the local timeline updates a bit too fast.
So is there a place for these folks in the Fediverse? By definition they don’t really need to reach their current fans – those folks will probably already be looking out for the next book, movie, show, etc. They need to reach new folks who haven’t heard of them. Perhaps this necessitates a return to the concept of the street team? The creative would ask their fans to boost the status update about the latest thing they’ve created?
A new model is definitely needed if they are to use the Fediverse for this purpose. Or perhaps this method of reaching fans, of advertising, was a blip that will disappear with the disappearance of Twitter; in much the same way that it would be much harder for the influencer to exist in the Fediverse.
I’m curious what others think – especially if you’re in the creative class and affected by the current Twitter meltdown and wishing you could migrate to a potentially safer place with less toxicity.