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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Landis

The Flock is Leaving Twitter, But Which Alternative is Really Worth Your Attention?

In the ever-developing saga of twitter’s internal drama, brands and individuals alike are jumping ship in droves – and proudly proclaiming the platforms they’re most likely to move to.

You’ve likely heard the names of platforms like “Mastodon” and “Hive” thrown around as users look to escape the chaos and find a new home for the short-form, rapid discourse and interaction Twitter has long been known for.

Here’s a quick and dirty guide to a few of the frontrunners, and things you might want to keep in mind if you head to one of them to make an account of your own:

Searching ‘Hive’ on your phone’s app store can be confusing because many brands use the name, including a popular productivity/work tracking app. What you’re looking for is Hive Social.

Hive Social is a little bit like the lovechild of Twitter and Tumblr. You’ll create an account, set up your profile, and then are welcome to start following individual accounts, poking around hashtags, or exploring via the various category suggestions on the app’s search/’Discover’ page.

When it comes to posting your own content, you’ll be able to post text on its own, add images or video, and then write a description (there seems to be no character limit) which can include both hashtags and active links to external pages you might be promoting.

Things to note: Hive Social is growing quickly, but is still a fraction of a fraction (or a fraction) of the size of a beast like Twitter. For that reason, interest communities are still getting populated, and posts that gather a lot of attention on the platform are currently more broad-appeal content such as influencers repurposing their most attractive Instagram photos as Hive posts. The organization of the app is easy to understand and has a lot of potential, but the team behind it is still small, and the slowdowns experienced from time to time in the app indicate that they may be experiencing some growing pains in acquiring the team and hardware needed to keep up with their current pace of growth.

Another name gathering headlines currently is the Germany-based Mastodon, a self-proclaimed ‘decentralized social media’ concept.

When you create an account on Mastodon, you’ll need to choose which user-hosted server to create your account on; the name of the server is then added on to the end of your chosen username. There are more ‘general’ social servers that are very populated, and there are also niche interest servers that are extremely sparse when it comes to users right now, without a lot of middleground between the two.

In certain areas of the website/app, you can interact with users of other servers, for example when someone on your server reposts content that someone originally created elsewhere.

It’s all a bit too confusing for its own good, especially at first, but you can kind of think about it like Discord servers that have certain ways of interacting with each other and let users grab content from other servers via a centralized feed.

When it comes to content post types you can make, just about anything is fair game (text, images, media, links).

Things to note: If it wasn’t apparent from the paragraphs above, Mastodon’s biggest hurdle for users is the fact that it’s not simple to wrap your head around, especially at first. Until they can do a better job of explaining where users should start, how servers work, etc., growth will probably not be as rapid as it’s being hyped up to be. Organic spread of content between servers also seems quite low right now, with the vast majority of posts we could find in gaming and gamedev hashtags having very low engagement and apparent exposure so far.

A decade or so ago, Tumblr was at its peak: a popular social media platform just on the edge of mainstream, with a vibrant community of artists, writers, and niche interest groups with skyhigh engagement. After changing ownership and a handful of ill-fated attempts to monetize the platform it was mostly forgotten by the social media mainstream.

But it retained a dedicated following of creators, keeping the beast alive, and now it seems that Twitter’s downfall could be Tumblr’s resurgence.

For those unfamiliar, Tumblr was originally advertised as a “blogging” platform, but was one of the first platforms to emphasize “reposting” content from others as a built-in feature. In this way, many people creating all kinds of content were able to quickly develop a following as their work was spread by other users within the platform.

You can post just about any type of media on Tumblr, and can include searchable hashtags to help it get discovered.

Things to note: Of the three alternatives in this post, Tumblr has by far the biggest current user base, and posts across many interest categories including gaming and game development currently have higher average engagement numbers than their counterparts on Mastodon and Hive. Additionally, one feature we love is Tumblr’s built in “Blaze” button that appears on your posts, allowing you to boost the reach of that post for as little as $10 with just a couple of clicks; this could be a particular interesting feature for brands to play around with should they decide to start creating content there.

In summary: While other platforms are certainly having a headline-filled moment, things are still shaking out and those platforms still have a very small audience. The exception to this is Tumblr, but most content there has a focus on either longer form writing or on flashy visuals, meaning the average user’s feed is going to look quite different than what they might see on Twitter.

In the end, there’s no crystal ball to tell us where things end up. If your goals are mostly short term, then Tumblr might be a place for you to have a chance at enticing an already existing audience. If you can stand to be a little more patient, then learning, waiting, and getting in on the ground floor of something (which could potentially be nothing) like Mastodon or Hive Social could be for you.

Of course, Twitter is far from the only social media heavyweight that other new platforms are gunning for: GameJolt is modeled after Tik Tok and Instagram but with a distinct focus on games, and sites like 9GAG have long been used by meme-savvy developers to garner some viral attention for their games. TikTok has massive potential, so going from short-form written content to entertaining short video content will probably be a more well-spent time due to the size of the audience already on there.

Whatever happens, social media is due for a shakeup in the months to come, and we’re all along for the ride.

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