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What is Mastadon? What is Mastadon?


What is Mastodon, the increasingly popular alternative to Twitter?



Following the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, the micro-blogging platform has fallen into turmoil, so much so, hundreds of thousands of users have started to abandon the social network, with many of them turning to Mastadon. So, in case you don´t know and want to join them, we thought we would explain what is Mastadon, the increasingly popular alternative to Twitter, and how you get on this growing site.

First up, what is Mastodon?

Mastodon is a German non-profit organisation that creates and provides free open-source software. The platform itself is not actually a social network, but rather a set of networks that may or may not be connected to each other. Its creator, software developer Eugen Rochko, pitches it as an alternative to Twitter, describing it as a “free, open source, decentralised social networking platform.”

Fair enough, but what exactly does that mean? That the source code is public, so anyone can access it, use it and modify it. As with many other programs and applications with this feature, people can change and improve the programming, customise it, or create new features. In other words, Mastodon’s database is available to users, it does not belong to a private company and the data is not centralised on a single server.

Although it sounds novel, the platform is not new. It was launched in 2016. What happens is that this year it has gained prominence, especially in recent weeks. The purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk and the many changes that are coming after that multi-billion-dollar acquisition have pushed thousands of tweeters to look for alternatives. Mastodon is shaping up to be a good candidate because it is similar to Twitter in many ways, but totally different in others.


So, what are the similarities between Mastodon and Twitter?

Mastodon’s appearance, options, and commands are quite similar to those of Twitter:

Messages (called toots) are written and posted just like tweets. It is possible to attach images, videos and links to web pages; also add emojis, put labels and take surveys.

Other users’ toots can be marked as favourites with a star (the equivalent of Twitter’s “like”), shared within the network itself (retoot) and shared outside of Mastodon (for example, by sending it via email or WhatsApp). You can also answer or comment, and follow hashtags.

On Mastodon, as on Twitter, it is possible to follow other users (and therefore have followers); follow current affairs and trends.


And the differences between Mastodon and Twitter?

Mastodon allows you to write longer messages (up to 500 characters, instead of Twitter’s 280) and also edit or correct them once they’ve been published, something Twitter doesn’t allow you to do, although it is one of the first new features Musk promised.

However, it doesn’t let you tag people in toot images or add comments when retooting someone else’s post.

Timeline posts appear in strict chronological order. Its appearance is not due to the number of times it has been marked as a favourite, nor to the number of followers of the person who posted it, nor to any other factor beyond time.

In Mastodon there are no ads or advertising.


Apart from these characteristics, the main differences are in concept, because Mastodon responds to a different way of conceiving a social network: if it does not have advertising, it is because the system works with collective microfinancing.

How do we begin on Mastadon?

Mastodon is not a single website. To use the features offered by the software, you need to create an account with a provider—they are called them servers—that lets you connect with other people across Mastodon.

The first step is deciding which server you’d like to make your account on. Every server is operated by an independent organisation or individual and may differ in moderation policies. You can find a list of Mastadon servers at

Mastodon can be used on the computer (with a web browser) or on the mobile, through its applications (both iPhone and Android).


How to open and use a Mastodon account

  1. You have to access their website and choose a server (a ‘home’), as we mentioned. Some servers or instances allow you to create the account on the fly; in others you have to request it and wait for them to accept you.
  2. The next thing is to complete the basic information, put your photo and choose a username (as when we create a profile on any other social network).
  3. It is convenient to publish a first presentation toot and fix it. This is not required, but it will help other users to know who we are or if we have similar interests.
  4. We can search for people we know and start following them.

Choosing a home in a neighbourhood: choose “instance” in Mastodon

To understand the model, we can think of Mastodon as a residential neighbourhood in which there are several houses of different types and sizes. Each ‘home’ has its own rules of behaviour and coexistence, and there are some that can house more people than others. Some also have very specific interests, from sports and astrophysics to social rights and gardening.

Each Mastodon ‘home’ is an ‘instance’ or ‘server’. These are independent of the others, but they can be related, in the same way that in a neighbourhood we relate to the rest of the neighbourhood.

To use Mastodon you have to choose one of those ‘homes’. Before doing so, it is necessary to first read their rules and their interests, to know that we agree and that we will feel comfortable there.

Today, most of the new users sign up at, a very large instance that acts as an ‘inn’ for those who have just arrived. However, the best thing to do is to sign up for an instance that interests us, or move to it once we have chosen it (in Mastodon it is possible to “migrate accounts” or change hosting).


Interacting with the other ‘neighbours’ (users)

Mastodon users are hosted on “instances”, but they are not hermetic: they can be in contact with others. Thus, in addition to reading the messages of those who are hosted in the same instance as us, it is possible to read, comment and share messages from ‘neighbours’.

When there is an annoying neighbour, we can silence or block them —just like on Twitter—, but it is also possible to go one step further: request that our instance silence or block theirs. In this way, the link between both ‘homes’ is cut: all messages from that other instance will no longer be seen in ours. This can be very useful to root out bullying situations, for example, or to protect all the inhabitants of an instance, instead of just one.

In addition, there are two timelines or temporary lines where the messages are seen:

Local: it is the timeline of our instance, where we only see the publications of our ‘roommates’; that is, from users who are hosted on the same server as us.


Federated: it is the timeline where the most recent public publications of the people on our server and other servers with which we have a relationship are displayed.

Keep the “instances”

The instances can be of different sizes. Depending on the capacity of the contracted server, more or fewer users fit, and more or less data and information flow. The smallest admit up to five people; the largest, more than 2,000.

The use of the server and its maintenance has a cost; and management requires time and dedication. Moderating an “instance” is like running a house: you have to make improvements, solve problems, enforce the rules, clear up doubts, make decisions, etc.

In any case, being a Mastodon user does not imply being a moderator of an instance or paying. All you have to do is enter the website, choose between the different instances available and sign up. In some, access is immediate, while in others you have to request it and wait for them to admit you. Each ‘home’ has its rules.


The person who creates the instance bears the maintenance costs, although users can contribute. The most widely used method is crowdfunding (often with contributions to crowdfunding platforms like Patreon). That allows you to pay the costs of the server and keep it running.



Should businesses consider radio advertising?



Radio Advertising

Clearly, we are going to talk about radio advertising, but here is a question for you, two questions in fact, firstly, have you heard of Sky, McDonald’s or BT?

Second question. What do those three companies have in common?

Okay, we admit it, the first question was intentionally leading you down a path. Of course you will have heard of them. The most important question was what they have in common. The answer is where they advertise.

You see, even the biggest names in the world, the biggest businesses, even those not mentioned, feel the need to advertise. That’s how you grow. But in terms of what connects the three we mentioned, the answer is radio.

Sky, McDonald’s, and BT are the biggest advertisers on radio in the UK. We could throw in a few other names by the way, British Gas, Talktalk, Vauxhall, for example, but let us stick with the top, for now.


Sky has actually increase radio ad spend, going from third place in 2021, to first place last year, an increase of 9.5% to almost 20 million pounds.

McDonald’s by the way, has been consistent in their radio ad spend, maintaining their position in the top 3 for some time.

Advertising has not only been fruitful for business, but it has also been of huge value to the broadcasters too. One significant change in the UK last year was a significant drop in spend by Government, no longer broadcasting Covid messages. This alone saw a drop in ad spend of around 60%, as the Government reduced their budget from just over 26 million in 2021 to just over 10 million last year. Despite that, commercial radio advertising revenue reached the highest amount ever recorded, with revenue of 740 million.

The clear reason for this record growth is that more businesses, big and small, are seeing the value in radio advertising, with a wider reach, and greater return, than many other platforms.

In terms of reach, brands that use radio grow their market share four times faster than any other medium, with a 49% uplift in awareness, 32% uplift in trust, and 24% increase in relevance.


In addition, radio advertising provides more efficiency and highest impact per pound spent than any other platform, more than two and a half times the impact of second place, outdoor advertising, which is slightly ahead of social media, and that in turn slightly ahead of newspaper.

In conclusion, if you want to get ahead, beat the competition, raise brand awareness, and, ultimately, sales, you really do need radio advertising as part of your marketing mix.

All data is provided by Media Leader, Mediatel, Radiocentre, and Big Audio Datamine.


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Getting the most from your advertising



Business advertising

When it comes to advertising, there are so many different factors and considerations involved, we could probably spend weeks talking about them, especially as they will differ for every single business or service, and, to an extent, for every single consumer.

To simplify things, we will group points in this article into very simple elements. We will talk about traditional advertising platforms, such as TV, print, and radio, and we will talk about digital platforms, which mostly covers the internet.

In terms of choosing what’s right for our business though, there is no definitive answer, because, as we have already said, everyone is different. But if we can understand a few simple concepts, we might at least be able to identify opportunities that are best for us.

So, we will talk briefly about three concepts. Reach, impact, and engagement, all of which work hand-in-hand, and are like a chain, in so much as one will not work without the other.

What do we mean by “reach”?

When it comes to advertising, the first, and arguable most important element, is reach. In the simplest of terms, we are talking about how many people will actually see or hear our advert. To put it another way, how many people will our advert reach.


This is not as simple, or as obvious, as we might think. Let us look at a couple of examples to show what we mean.

Starting with traditional platforms, if a local newspaper tells you that they distribute 10,000 copies each week, they might tell you that “every newspaper is read by two and a half people”, so, therefore, your advert will reach 25,000 people a week. But, this is clearly not true. Why? Firstly, because hardly anybody will pick up that newspaper just to read the adverts. People pick up newspapers for the news, the content. The vast majority of people skip through the advert pages, generally. So, your advert is not seen 25,000 times, or even 10,000 times. The reality is that the reach will be considerably smaller.

We are not picking on newspapers by the way, because the reality is, reach is comparatively small on all platforms, whether they are traditional or digital. The primary reason for this could be described as another concept called “ad avoidance”.

We have said that people don’t read newspapers for adverts, and in fact, actively avoid them.

On Christmas Day, 2022, 2.85 million people tuned into Coronation Street on ITV. Advertising during Corrie is amongst the most expensive slots on TV, but does it mean that 2.85 million people saw the adverts in between the soap segments? No, is the answer, because, traditionally, viewers wait until the ad breaks to go to the toilet, put the kettle on, make a drink, or, to put it another way, ad avoidance. So, again, the reach is a lot lower than we might think.


Digital platforms suffer in exactly the same way. Go to YouTube, for example, and search for a video about cleaning mould from garden furniture. You will no doubt find videos, but will first be served by an ad. The vast majority of people spend their time not watching the advert, but watching the counter count down until the button “Skip Ad” appears, which they subsequently do. Ad avoidance.

The point is, whatever we are told about how far our advert will reach, the reality will be much smaller.

The benefits of the digital world over traditional media is that it is much more measurable. Facebook, for its part, is actually quite good at admitting this. If you have a Facebook business page, and hopefully you have, when you ad a post, Facebook will tell you the reach, once you have allowed a bit of time to pass of course. This figure will be low, compared to your follower count.

The reason is that Facebook will not show your post to everyone, in fact, it will show it to very few people. You can increase this by paying, but that is a topic for another day.

Why will Facebook reach be so low? In simple terms, because there is too much happening on Facebook. Although it was conducted a few years ago, a survey revealed that an average Facebook user has 388 friends. For simplicity in this explanation, we will round that figure up and say that the average person on Facebook has 500 friends. Now, users also follow topics that interest them, pages about cats, local history, forums, chat groups, and, of course, businesses. So, again for simplicity, we will suppose that each user follows 500 of these pages. We are excluding things like stories, just to keep things as simple as possible.


So, taking our 500 friends and 500 pages, if we assume that each of those makes a single post each day, that would mean that every user has to scroll through 1,000 updates a day. Currently, Facebook users spend little over half an hour on the platform. So, to use a mathematical equation of 1,000 divided by 30, each user would see 33 posts per minute, or 2 posts every second. It’s not possible.

In order to get around this problem, Facebook prioritises what to show each individual user. It givers preference to your closest friends, posts you interact more with, your interests, and other factors we can talk about in another article. But the point is, if our business page has 1,000 followers, our posts to that page will not reach 1,000 people, more likely, as there are many articles which will testify to this, if it is considered a good and interesting post, then it will be shown to just 5% of our followers, or 50 people, within the mix of their timeline. Thus, our reach is much lower than we might expect, but, as we have seen, this is true of all platforms, it is just something we need to be aware of, accept, and then increase our footprint to compensate.

Within the idea of reach, we also have to consider many more elements, such as demographics, target audience, etc. If we advertise a kitchen fitting service in a gardening magazine, are we more or less likely to reach our target clients? If our services are aimed at a specific section of society, an age group for example, how do those factors enter into what we have left from our starting figure? Of the 10,000 copies our newspaper is distributing, how many are actually within our target geographical area?

Again, one benefit of digital advertising over traditional media is that we can target our adverts in such a granular form. We can target age groups, location, interests, and more.

Now we move on to concept number two, impact

Impact is used to describe the initial power of our advert. To go back to our chain though, impact is only useful if we have reach. We can have the best advert the world has ever seen or heard of, but without reach, it is useless.


To talk more about impact, let us introduce another concept, ad recall. In simple terms, ad recall is a metric to measure whether an advert is memorable. This concept has been measured through things like focus groups, surveys, direct marketing, and other similar ways, but the point is to see whether your advert will be remembered.

We have already seen that our reach is considerably lower than we might have been led to believe. We now accept that, but what we must also accept is that the chance of a consumer seeing or hearing our advert at the exact time that need our product or service is extremely slim, and so we need to embed what we do in their minds until such a time as they need us.

Let us give you some examples. If we say the word, “simples”, you probably think of one thing, meerkats. If we start to sing “Go compare”, you will think of car insurance, “Cornetto?”, “just one”, and so on. These elements are all taken from adverts, and all firmly embedded in our minds. So, ad recall is high.

Our advert must, ideally, have such an impact that people remember it, and, hopefully, remember our business and what we do.

Finally, engagement

We must have some kind of “call to action” for our advert. This can simply be telling people to visit us, how to find us, or direction to our product sales page. It can also be a push to contact us, or simply evoke a searchable phrase that is easy to remember and will present our business profile in the simplest manner possible.


These days, an online presence is vital, but this is no longer just a case of launching a website or Facebook page and hoping for the best. It is about maximising our online presence to that we are first when people search.

Google, for example, and Bing, both offer free business profiles will a multitude of enhancements. For modern businesses, these must be used.

The most impactful businesses these days rely on a bold online presence, which is why there is more of a focus on using search engines as a call to action. “Just search for…”, for example, replacing the need to force the consumer to remember, copy, write, complex pone numbers, website addresses and the likes, as the search engines deliver it all in one go, but only if you have paid attention to your online presence.

Like the previous links in our chain though, engagement will not work if the advert doesn’t have impact. We have to encourage the observer to act, to impact is crucial to engagement, as it is to reach.

Now, the bad news. Collectively, putting all of this together, on average, a good advert is likely, according to industry standards, to result in a response rate of between 1% and 2%.



Whatever our perceived starting figure, when we look at our actual, or effective reach, it is much smaller, across all platforms. We need to have a high impact advert, and we need an effective response to whatever call to action we try to evoke. However, we will still have a very low response rate.

So, how do we compensate for that? We will give you some ideas in another article, but the overall solution is target our advertising correctly, using the best medium to reach our target audience, and using the best medium that offers us the best reach based on our individual criteria, because without reach, we have nothing. To do this, we must do our research. For newspapers, check distribution. You can ask for proof of this, how many and where they distribute to.

For digital, check statistics. There are websites which will report on criteria such as search engine strength, for example. Check the figures, then monitor them. Check their online presence, both in terms of search engine rankings, and across social media. Reviews can give you a truthful picture of their results, but so can a quick analysis of their company profiles. A media outlet with 75,000 followers on Facebook might seem impressive, but how many are genuine, or how many have been bought. A simple check of their posts will soon reveal their impact and engagement based on the number of interactions, bearing in mind that many of those, “great post”, “I really like this”, “amazing” type responses are also often part of the scam. Are their followers genuine, and in the area they claim to serve, because if they are not, how can they possibly satisfy your geographic reach requirements?

Do work yourself. Get yourself listed on all of the free platforms you can, and make sure you and your business are listed fully and correctly. Start with Google and Bing business listings at the very least. Use social media, including stories, and use them regularly, but make sure what you are sharing is valuable and interesting, and, preferably, engaging. Use the technology you have, your mobile phone, make videos, take photographs, rich media is always more appealing, and engaging. Don’t shy away from text though, this is important too. Get blogging, create content that drives online visitors to you. Go viral, okay, that’s easier said than done, but share your most interesting content where you can, and hope others share it too, you can even ask people to share it, but not too often. Don’t cut corners, don’t copy, you don’t have to be perfect, but it helps if you are original.

Ask for reviews. Within your Google business profile, you can do this easily, but don’t be afraid to ask people in the real world to add a review on your listing. Despite everything we have said in this article, the best form of advertising is word of mouth, and positive reviews are just as effective. In the online world, potential clients actively seek out reviews first, they don’t actively seek out adverts. Reviews are powerful.


To maximise reach, we need to do more, across multiple platforms and media, as part of our marketing mix, but to be cost effective, we must maximise our planning, and our monitoring, whilst realising that advertising is part of the long-term business strategy, not something to just throw money at, but something that needs constant attention.

Always monitor every element of your advertising. Check the actual, effective reach, check the response, check the impact, and adapt accordingly. If you simply pay for advertising, you are effectively throwing that money away, unless you monitor.


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