Are you part of the pharmaceutical industry and have heard of a new platform that many HCPs (healthcare professionals) are joining? We have been following this change as some HCPs have made the change to Mastodon; however, if you would like to know a little more about the platform, and how you can sign up, learn and engage with the healthcare community, this article is for you.
Launched in 2016, the design and use of Mastodon is quite similar to its counterpart Twitter however, they differ in a key factor. Mastodon is something known as a ‘federated’ network connected together by Mastodon’s technology. It is a number of social media platforms run on separate servers controlled by different people with their own set of rules and guidelines .
If you are already on Mastodon this guide may not help you however, you can check out one of our recent on-demand webinars What if HCPs Leave Twitter? where we discuss how HCPs are using the platform .
Five steps for pharma professionals to get started on Mastodon
1. Start at joinmastodon.org
Setting up your Mastodon account is free and simple. You can either choose to download the app and create an account from there or directly create an account from the website. A point to note is that Mastodon has two official apps for both iOS and Android users however, you do also have the option to choose from third-party apps which are also listed on the website.
Once you have chosen to either set up via an app or website you have to choose a server you would like to host your account on. In order to make your choice of server there are a variety of filters that can help your choice based on Language, Region, Legal structure, Topic, etc.
Another server that would be of interest is mastodon.creation.md, founded by CREATION.co. The server is intended for those within the pharmaceutical industry looking to engage with posts focused on digital engagement within healthcare and government, as well as insights into the digital behaviour of eHCPs across different social media platforms, including Mastodon.
Once you have chosen your server, enter your Display name, username, email, password, confirm your password and tick the box adhering to the rules and guidelines of the server after you have read it, as each server has their own set of rules.
2. Setting up your profile
You can either begin setting up your profile by following people, by entering their names in the search bar at the top or you can make use of the recommended list of people created for you and choose from there.
You can choose to decide how your page appears to other people on the platform. On the website, on the top left, right below your username is the link to ‘Edit your profile’. After clicking on the link you will be taken to the ‘Appearance’ tab in your settings which allows you to change/add the following to your profile:
Bio: Let people know something about you. You can include details about yourself, your location, likes, dislikes, etc.
Header: Choosing an image for this section will be used as a banner at the top of your profile
Avatar: This will be your profile picture or display image, as referred to on other platforms. An image for people to have as a reference point for yourself.
After adding these details you have the option to choose how you would like people on the platform to engage with you, whether you would like your profile to be suggested to others and so on.
3. Say Something (or Toot!)
Mastodon’s homepage at the top asks “What’s on your mind?.” You can answer this with whatever you would like to share with your audience or not. Mastodon gives you 500 characters to share per post as compared to Twitter which gives you 280 characters to use.
In addition there are a number of other settings you can adjust in your post
- Add an image/video/audio file
- Create a poll
- Change your post privacy settings to either only people you mention, followers or public
- Add a Content Warning in case your post might be triggering for certain people
- Change the language of your post
- Add emojis. Mastodon has custom medicine related emojis for you to use
As you might already have accounts on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it might help to understand the Mastodon language in light of other platforms. Also feel free to sign up to our Social Media White Paper to understand how HCPs are using social media.
Toot – Post/Tweet
Star – Like
Boost – Retweet/Share
Bookmark – Save
Hashtags are an essential part of Mastodon. They help to link toots to a topic of discussion. For example, HCPs who post on medical related topics add the hashtag #medMastodon in order to link them to the wider healthcare focused conversation.
How to use hashtags?
- Enter in the search bar a word or phrase that is associated with the topic of discussion you would like to explore eg: #medMastodon
- Remember to use a ‘#’ before the word
- From the numerous number of tweets that appear you can either click on other hashtags that people have used eg: #medEd, #scienceMastodon or use them within your own tweets to connect yourself to the discussion
- There are millions of hashtags that are there for you to explore or even create so feel free to experiment with it
Here are some of the common hashtags you may see in health related conversations.
There are 3 timelines you should be aware of on your profile which consists of posts from different sets of audiences
- Homepage: Posts from people you follow
In addition to the Homepage there are two public timelines that can include followers you have not interacted with yet.
- Federated: Posts on this timeline can include public posts from all the people present on your server, including public posts of people followed by those on your server. This includes profiles that are hosted on other servers. It is a good opportunity to engage with people from the greater community on Mastodon.
- Local: This timeline consists of public posts from people just on your server, irrespective of whether you follow them or not. This can be useful to you as you can be assured that posts on this timeline will abide by the community guidelines and focus of your server eg: content warnings, interests.
As this is a beginners guide to Mastodon this guide is short and focused on key areas that are relevant to your introduction to Mastodon. There is lots to explore on the platform and lots of features are being developed and added as Mastodon grows.
Once you are all set up, you might want to explore some articles related to digital engagement in healthcare and government and how others are using other social media platforms including Mastodon in the pharmaceutical industry. Or sign up to CREATION.co’s eJournal – a monthly resource of articles and webinars on the latest online behaviours of HCPs and digital engagement trends in healthcare, designed specifically for the pharma industry.