Twitter has done everything they can to help Mastodon scale, so why hasn’t it happened?
I want to talk about why and what this means for your product in terms of being ready for opportunities to scale.
Related Article – https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2023/jan/08/elon-musk-drove-more-than-a-million-people-to-mastodon-but-many-arent-sticking-around
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Hey, folks, Sean here.
And today what I want to talk to you about is
why Mastodon has failed to scale, despite the fact that Twitter
has done everything in its power to send as many of
their users as possible over to that platform.
Just in case you’re unaware, there’s been quite a bit
of turmoil going on over Twitter, and every time something
major hits the news, a new wave of users goes
from Twitter over to a platform called Mastodon.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with what Mastodon is,
it’s essentially an open source equivalent to Twitter.
It’s got a relatively similar user experience,
or it’s considered by many to be
the most similar product on the market.
And as such, many were expecting it to
kind of fill the vacuum that Twitter seems
to have been creating all on its own.
But despite that fact, and despite the fact
that in a single day when it was
at its peak growth rate from converting users
from Twitter over to mastodon, those numbers where
over 100,000 users per day are leaving Twitter.
And joining mastodon.
Not only have they failed to continue to scale
at that rate, that trend has since somewhat reversed
itself almost as aggressively as it was once growing.
So the question here is why?
Why has Mastodon failed to scale despite having
this tremendous opportunity, it seems, to kind of
fill the vacuum that Twitter has been creating.
Like I said, all on its own.
In fact, there’s a great chart and article from
the Guardian about this event that has taken place,
and it’s overlaid essentially in a series of a
timeline where there is a chart reflecting the growth
of Mastodon and when new waves of users have
spiked joining their platform.
And that timeline of events is also mapped
to when controversial things have happened at Twitter,
or just things like Elon Musk taking over,
but him announcing massive layoffs, him doing really
questionable things, or Twitter doing very questionable things
like banning journalists and things like that.
Every time any one of these controversial things have
taken place, mastodon has seen a massive spike in
user activity and people joining the platform.
But despite the fact that that’s been happening in
almost rapid succession over time, giving macedon time and
time again opportunities to capitalize or benefit from this
level of scale, not only has that growth kind
of stalled or stopped, it’s reversed itself and almost
aggressively as it was once growing.
So ultimately, what looks like is happening now
is people aren’t adopting the Mastodon platform.
In fact, many of them are probably actually going
back to Twitter, which is really interesting trend, despite
the fact that the motivation was probably pretty high
given the fact of what has taken place more
recently over at Twitter for them to join really
any other platform that can meet that need.
And that’s what I want to talk about now.
Probably the biggest reason why Mastodon has really failed
to continue their aggressive growth and scale is for
something that I talked about before, which is very
important in order to really nail a product experience,
and that’s the user experience.
The usability of Mastodon is very
different than that of Twitter.
It is much harder to use, quite a bit
more complex, and requires the user to have to
do things that they really don’t have to do
to get the same experience out of Twitter.
In addition to that, the feature set which is
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prominent over Twitter, is not really all there when
it comes to the Mastodon experience as such, because
it’s been hard to make that transition for users.
They’re not sticking around.
I think what they were probably all hoping for
was a relatively similar experience to that of Twitter.
They were looking to kind of fill the void
in the value that they were getting from the
feature set that’s been popularized over at Twitter.
But Macedon largely just doesn’t offer it, or doesn’t offer
it in the way that the users have yet found
to satisfy what their need was from before.
And this is why they’re either quitting social media or
many of them are flocking back over to Twitter.
So this really underscores the level of
importance of nailing the product experience.
And what’s interesting here is that Twitter
doesn’t really have dramatically complicated tech.
In fact, there are many programming languages like
starter courses like Ruby on Rails, which is
something that I took many years ago.
That part of one of the larger but earlier projects
that they actually have you do to really get familiarized
with the language is building a Twitter clone.
I mean, if you think about the
tech that goes into making the Twitter
experience, it’s really not all that complicated.
As such, I’m surprised that another platform has yet to
kind of take the reins here because this is a
golden opportunity to satisfy a bunch of users who are
frustrated by what’s going on at that social media company.
Yet it really still has yet to happen.
And I would point to the largest reason for
that not happening is that user experience, the usability.
So this really underscores the level of importance.
There something that might not seem as important from
time to time, but when we see lessons like
these, it really underscores its level of importance.
So this is why, to me, the aesthetic
or the user interface is not as important
anywhere near so as the user experience.
Because despite this golden opportunity, right,
mastodon has yet to capitalize it.
And largely I feel it’s because of
the difference in the user experience, because
Mastodon’s is significantly more complicated.
So I know the two of those
concepts are often talked about together.
People often refer to them as UI UX.
In fact, there’s usually slash in between
them whenever either one is mentioned.
And I feel like they are dramatically they’re
significantly different enough to the point where they
largely probably shouldn’t be lumped together in the
same category because I’ve seen great UIs with
terrible UX’s and vice versa.
So it’s really important to nail UX and
in the way that they reflect that.
UI is always mentioned first, and
I feel like that’s a mistake.
It always should be user experience first because
you’re creating the right type of user experience.
Something like this would not happen.
In fact, Mastodon had every opportunity in
the world to scale here really aggressively,
yet it’s failed to happen.
I think largely because of that.
And that’s what we’re seeing from most people as I
review different threads and I see what people are saying
about what their experience has been like thus far.
So let this be a lesson.
I think the thing to take away from
this is the level of importance of really
making sure that you nail that user experience
and the product experience that you’re delivering for
users really gives them what they’re looking for.