So, as Twitter continues to crash and burn for creators and users (being both a mire now welcoming of people who are bigoted, racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc., and a safety nightmare), many of us are having to rethink our social media platforms.
Since I’ve been working in social media marketing both professionally and as part of my writing career, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve seen as I’ve worked to diversify my own platform over the last month. It’s tragic to see the implosion of so many communities online–that’s what made Twitter so dynamic. But I’m hoping we can rebuild, and maybe my insight will help.
Caveat: I know some of these platforms are new, and therefore experiencing all kinds of issues. But frankly, that’s beside the point. It’s sink or swim out there. What makes platforms work are the users on there, and if there are user issues or safety concerns, folks will flock away.
That said, there is no perfect platform. Every day I see a new article warning against Hive, Post, Tumblr, TikTok, whatever. Being part of a social media community is always a gamble. You’ve got to decide what risk is reasonable for you.
This is exhausting, to be sure. But I’m naturally interested in how social communities grow and change over time, so I’m morbidly curious to see where things go.
For reference and comparison, I am (for now, lol) a verified Twitter user with over 16,000 followers.
Mastodon: 2350 followers
This is currently my go-to network for my general thoughts, updates, and discussions.
Pros: If you use the Metatext app and the web browser, it actually feels very much like Twitter. There is no algorithm, so people who follow you actually see your stuff. There’s also a culture of learning there, a kind of welcoming of curiosity and diversity of message. I’ve consistently grown my audience across a number of verticals: medievalism stuff, writing, fashion history, and just general conversation. There is also a lot more moderation, and each instance has its own code of conduct that seems, generally, enforced. You can also follow groups, create hashtag notifications, and more. I also get just as much, if not more, engagement on my posts than I do on Twitter with significantly fewer followers.
Cons: There is a learning curve. Because the Fediverse is a collection of many different instances, I had to move away from one of the larger ones (mastodon.social) because of security concerns. That process was annoying and it didn’t bring my content over. I still find the Local feed almost impossible to follow at all, but I’m building out my following list to the point where it’s more functional. It’s a lot less about likes and more about boosting and conversation, which might work well for some people who are used to the instant-like situation on Twitter. It’s also slower. A post I made the day before might end up blowing up 24 hours after. Because it’s a collection of instances, however, there are some concerns in terms of consistent moderation and oversight. It is not an “easy” social network, but maybe that’s a good thing?
Hive: 103 followers
The trendy upstart.
Pros: Hive is very pretty. I started a few weeks ago after the entirety of Star Wars Twitter and then Book Twitter ended up going there. It feels like a cross between Instagram and Twitter. Visuals really pop, .gifs are enabled, and it’s got a nice font. There are some other cool features, like having music play on your user page as well as color options.
Cons: Hive grew very fast very quickly. Their team of two just couldn’t keep up. Even before they went down for maintenance (as of right now they announced on Twitter that they’re shutting down to deal with some security issues) it was painfully difficult to use the app due to slowness. I found it almost unusable most of the time, and very difficult to find people/engage in conversations. It doesn’t have a web version, and there are lots of bugs on the mobile app (sentences don’t automatically capitalize, for example, ugh). While I’m connected to people I know, it still feels very isolated. Updates are also not shared clearly, often on Twitter. Which is ironic. I also found it *very* promotional heavy rather than conversational. But that could be just me.
Post: 107 followers
The refined upstart.
Pros: Post has both a web version and then a way to make a mobile-friendly version. It focuses on content, prioritizes narrative, and has a serif font. It’s been the place we’ve seen a lot of journalists flock to. I’d say it’s a bit like a combination of Twitter and Reddit, but with much better design. I’ve been using it for longer content, somewhere between a microblog and a blog. It’s also got a revenue program where people can give you points that, supposedly, can actually be used as money. I’m not super clear on that part, but it’s interesting.
Cons: It’s clearly a beta. It’s buggy and it loads the waiting list screen every time I refresh. Oh and there’s a waiting list. People have been trickling in slowly, but it feels way more like starting from scratch than anything else out there. Which is refreshing in its own way, but not necessarily what I’m looking for right now. I’ve not been able to “find” bookish folks, but have found some great conversation around ADHD. Commenters seem really invested and write when they comment, but reach is pretty unpredictable. Right now, half the posts are, “Well, I’m here.” I have hope that in time, with some updates, they’ll figure things out.
Tumblr: 290 followers
Back from the dead, this platform is suddenly on everyone’s mind.
Pros: There’s already a big audience there. For Tumblr, I went straight with ThreadTalk content, rather than Natania author content. I wanted a place to house my ThreadTalk dress content, and it seemed like a good fit since it’s so visual and people are really enthusiastic about Tumblr. The composer is really nice, and I can add links to my own website, make my Tumblr page feel like I want it to, and that’s fun. Growth has been consistent, and I love their built-in analytics.
Cons: I love conversation and Tumblr is not really where that happens. I get lots of notes and reblogs, but for the most part it’s kind of like casting into the void. I don’t feel like I know anyone that I’ve connected with there. As I’m not part of a fandom, that certainly limits things a bit. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, really, as Tumblr was never something I was part of before. I’m figuring it out, and it’s a good part of my workflow.
I have two accounts on TikTok–one for me, general, and the new one for ThreadTalk.
Pros: TikTok is a whole thing. My personal account grew mostly because of ADHD content… but that’s not something I want to continue being known for, necessarily. I’m an author. So after a ton of growth last year, the main account has really slowed while I’m building in more writers and whatnot. TikTok is great if you have a niche. I’ve reached over 500 followers on the ThreadTalk channel by focusing on fashion history content. Commenters are very engaged, and individual reach per post is way higher than my regular account. The algorithm loves a good formula.
Cons: Video takes time. Some days I don’t feel like doing it and TikTok likes consistency. It’s aggressively anti-polymath, and when you fall out of a niche you have almost no reach even with thousands of followers. TikTok is not known for its great security, moderation, or ethics. It’s incredibly trend-driven, and you can spend three hours on a post to get 300 views while someone who sticks their tongue out gets 1.5M for a four second video. It’s also a total gamble.
The old standbys.
Pros: I do have a personal page, but for this I’m just counting the new pages. I’ve set up a good workflow for this. I use a program called TailWind to schedule posts to Instagram and then I made a page on Facebook that I can share directly to. This is the one area where I did some small amounts of sponsored posting (about $100). I did a lot of research and determined that this is where the ThreadTalk audience is. So far, to my great surprise, the Facebook page has the most engagement in terms of comments and I feel like I’m actually getting to know people. It’s growing pretty consistently and people are nice.
Cons: It’s Facebook and Instagram. One of the things I loved most about Twitter was that it wasn’t Zuckerbergworld. Commenting on both platforms are pretty bad and hard to manage from a mobile device. Account switching is really annoying, too. Instagram is moving away from images and prioritizing videos, but the videos time limitations mean I can’t often crosspost from TikTok to Reels. The audience is huge, but having to use hashtags on everything is freaking annoying.
All that said, for me, if there’s a “Twitter killer” it’s Mastodon. The easiest content to manage is the Instagram/Facebook stuff. The most rewarding is probably the TikTok account, but it’s also got the highest likelihood to cause burnout.