How OSI got to Mastodon

We have a new official social media channel for the Open Source Initiative: OSI is on Mastodon. We’ve been working to get a proper, authenticated home in the Fediverse for several months and now the addition has happened! Talk about timing!

With the help of Hugo Gameiro at @mastohost, we’ve setup a Mastodon instance with only two accounts:

  • @OSI@opensource.org, the account of the whole organization where we’ll publish announcements and updates
  • @ed@opensource.org, the account of the Executive Director for conversations with me.

That’s the start. We’re going to treat Mastodon as an extension of the blog. Just like with Twitter and LinkedIn, OSI staff doesn’t have the capacity to consider social media a separate channel. Almost all our actions start with a blog post: from there, we create social media campaigns and email content like the monthly newsletter. Until this week, the social media channels were Twitter and LinkedIn. Now we have added Mastodon.

Challenges and next steps

Like any social media manager will tell you, creating a channel is trivial, but what comes next is harder. We need to adjust our publishing and listening tools to accommodate the two new accounts on Mastodon. The ecosystem around Mastodon and ActivityPub is not as rich as with LinkedIn and Twitter, which means that we’ll have to glue something together and experiment. Patience is required.

We use CoSchedule to manage our publication workflow, from draft to published blog post and to schedule social media messages. Unfortunately CoSchedule doesn’t presently support Mastodon natively. Most likely, we’ll start with some form of mirroring from Twitter to Mastodon, using no-code tools like IFTT or Zapier (if you know of hosted solutions based on Open Source code that can mirror posts from Twitter to Mastodon, please let me know.)

For monitoring the channels we’ll do what we do now, which is keep clients open and review the queue of mentions daily.

Reporting on Mastodon is a big unknown: we don’t know of any tool that would help us better understand our audience. We’d like to know if people are seeing our messages, if they’re finding the content compelling enough to reshare, through favoriting or other forms of response. Strictly speaking, these are not the most important metrics for us but we know that some of our sponsors find it useful to know that OSI’s audience is growing and likes what we’re posting. We can live without it as the ecosystem around ActivityPub matures.

The cool thing is that OSI’s blog is already showing every like, retweet and reply done on Twitter also on each blog post as a Like, Repost or as a comment. Now we’ve integrated Mastodon too. Check the bottom of every blog post and you’ll see the avatars and the actions they completed. This post is a good example of conversations happening on Twitter that get incorporated on the blog. If you’re curious, we use brid.gy and the plugins developed by the folks of Indieweb. We’ll talk more about ActivityPub and the Fediverse in the future.

Thank you for your patience and support as we add this new social media channel to our community toolset.

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