Your organization should run its own Mastodon server

Whether you are a large company, a political party, an international news
agency, an NGO or a government institution, you should seriously consider
running your own Mastodon server, or anything else that suits your business on
the Fediverse.

Mastodon is in the news every time Twitter
changes something big enough to upset its users. Recently, the takeover by Elon
Musk has got millions wondering if the social media platform so cherished by
journalists is still worth their attention. Hundreds of thousands of them have
decided to test a software called Mastodon, a federated open source alternative
to Twitter.

But isn’t this all too familiar? We spend so much effort building communities
on these large social networks, and by that we make ourselves very dependent on
their operating model. Facebook changes the way they serve fan pages to their
users and it’s hundreds of news agencies scratching their heads on how they’re
going to get their latest articles in front of their readers. Struggling to get
your official account stand out in the middle of all the copycats, you can
always pay for some certifying blue check symbol. What about having your own
messages censored or displayed next to an advert for something you are actually
trying to distance yourself from?

You’ve already been told that it’s better to own your channels of
communication and that’s why you are probably already running your own
newsletter. But what about social media? Can you run your own social network?
How do you connect to millions of people without using Facebook or Twitter?

This is where Mastodon and the Fediverse bring a completely new way to think
about social media. The Fediverse is a network of thousands of servers running
some social media software, like Mastodon, a microblogging tool often compared
to Twitter. And all are interconnected with each other. So, instead of having
one centralized platform, we have a network of social networks. And just as with
email, you can send a message to anyone in your organization, and at the same
time have a conversation with anyone outside of your organization. All this is
transparent and your correspondent’s email address lets you know that you are
actually talking to someone as part of a particular organization.

You see immediately one of the benefits. By using your own domain name, your
brand, you are creating a recognizable social presence in the Fediverse, without
the need to associate it with, or No
need to worry about someone else squatting your name either. Your domain name is
what will get people to trust that the Mastodon accounts under it are legitimate
and official.

And once you run your own corner of a social network, you can decide who you
invite there, what are your rules of engagement and code of conduct. At
Thoughtworks, we’ve allowed all our employees to open an account on our Mastodon
server as this is aligned with our culture and our practice of being quite vocal
and transparent about what we are passionate about. We encourage our employees
to publish blog posts, articles and books on different topics. It was a natural
continuation to allow them to publish short messages on the Fediverse. But you
could also very well reserve this for a small group of official accounts, or
create accounts associated with campaigns, events, particular products or
departments. You can also invite some high profile clients or partners to have
an account on your Mastodon server. It’s really up to you how you want to use
your own social space.

And since Mastodon offers this possibility, you can always transfer the
followers from one account to another. You are not stuck in one place, in one
network, with one account. You can regroup or move your account to a different
place. So you’ll never lose the community you’ve started building.

This could be especially useful if the members of your organization need to
have a social media presence to do their work. Offering them a safe space to
connect and build an audience can have mutual benefits. They will be
representing your organization on the Fediverse but also benefit from the
organization’s recognition and create a more trusted voice. This can be
especially interesting for news organizations which generally need their
journalists to be quickly identified on social networks and allow them to
connect with their audience.

For organizations looking at amplifying their message through their members’
voice, or wanting to be more transparent and open to the exterior, offering a
Mastodon account to your employees or volunteers is certainly a great way to
achieve this.

People wanting to understand your company culture would have an authentic
place to look at. See how your employees interact and present themselves. What
do they talk about? Just as when people go to conferences to present a research
or share something publicly about their work, thanks to social media, these
interactions happen in an even more informal way, in ways that people feel
comfortable reaching out to strangers. For us at Thoughtworks, Mastodon has
already been a tool we’ve successfully used to attract talents, for example.

And if microblogging is not your jam, there are plenty of other federated
software to serve your needs that will also interconnect with Mastodon.
Peertube, is an open source alternative to
Youtube. The Blender Foundation decided to use Peertube to publish videos on
the Fediverse after repeatedly running into troubles with Youtube and
getting their account temporarily blocked. For the more visual crowd, Pixelfed is a photo sharing application very
similar to Instagram that is also part of the Fediverse.

All these federated applications are open source and run on open standard
protocols, so if some software is not really covering your needs, there is
always a way to adapt them. At Thoughtworks, we engaged with the Mastodon
developer community back in 2017, because we needed to make sure our employees
could use our single sign-on provider to connect to their account on our

The Fediverse is currently one of the most promising alternatives to the
centralized social media monopolies like Facebook or Twitter. With the
uncertainties currently faced by these mega platforms, it could be a relatively
small but, in the long term, profitable investment to start exploring setting up
a presence in these emerging social media spaces. The software is available and
working. There are new avenues to explore when an organization offers a social
media space to its members. And millions of people are currently wondering where
to go.

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