Updated on May 7, 2023
Social network Mastodon has gained traction recently, thanks to a migration of former Twitter users. However, one of the concerns about switching to Mastodon is finding other users to follow, not to mention losing one’s old Twitter followers. Below, I list a few ways to find new Mastodon users, as well as some recommended Mastodon accounts to follow.
I should note that at this time, Mastodon has few major celebrities, sports teams, websites, politicians, or media outlets. Thus, if that’s what you’re looking to follow, you’re mostly out of luck (for now). If you miss that type of content, I suggest also including another social network and/or an RSS reader to fill in those gaps.
Finding other former Twitter users on Mastodon
For ex-Twitter users switching to Mastodon, adding your old Twitter users is one way to fill an empty Mastodon timeline. It also helps establish some familiarity with your new online home. There are a few ways to do this:
Manually adding users
This method’s the most straightforward. Check to see if your favorite Twitter users have added Mastodon user names to their bios or in a pinned tweet. If so, just add them within Mastodon through one of the following, while logged into your own account:
- Copy and paste their user name into the Mastodon search box.
- Search for their name by typing their user name (or part of it) in the Mastodon search box.
After finding their account, hit the “follow” button in their profile.
I note it’s easier to add users while logged into your own Mastodon account (or using an app), and searching within there.
While manually adding users requires more work than an automated tool, it also doesn’t require using a third-party service.
Using a third-party tool
Until recently, multiple third-party tools existed to automate adding Twitter users to Mastodon. Unfortunately, Twitter (and Musk) shut off most free access to its API in April 2023, resulting in many third party tools shutting down. As of this writing, the only major option left seems to be Fedifinder. Otherwise, your best option at this point is the manual method above.
Finding new Mastodon accounts to follow
There are several ways to find new users within Mastodon itself.
One option is to search for users within Mastodon’s search box. Unlike Twitter, however, Mastodon’s search option isn’t as strong; this was done on purpose, as a way to discourage trolls. (It’s debatable whether or not this actually works, or just makes Mastodon harder to use.) The search options are largely based on user names and hashtags (more on the latter below).
Browse the local and federated timelines and explore tab
Mastodon offers two sets of broad timelines: “local” and “federated.” The local timeline will display every post from your own server/instance, while the federated timeline will display every post from across most Mastodon servers/instances.
Given the “firehose” nature of both of these timelines, however, their effectiveness for finding new accounts to follow definitely varies. The local timeline, however, is useful if your instance/server serves a specific interest (LGBTQ folk, people of color, a specific hobby or job, etc.).
There’s also the “explore” tab, which offers a list of trending hashtags and some suggested accounts to follow. There’s also a section for news articles from Reuters, BBC, the Washington Post, NBC, etc. Fortunately, no Fox News, at least on my instance.
Mastodon users’ follow lists
You can check what Mastodon users are following, or who follows them, by checking their “followers” or “following” lists.
Hashtags are the best way to search for topics of interest on Mastodon, and a reason users are encouraged to use hashtags frequently. Click on any post’s hashtag, or type a hashtag into the search box, and you’ll get all posts using that hashtag. (The search box on the web version of Mastodon will offer a list of similar/suggested hashtags.)
You can also follow hashtags, similar to following users, and receive all posts under that hashtag.
Mastodon directory sites
Some Mastodon directory sites exist, listing popular accounts under various categories. Some popular directories include:
These directories aren’t comprehensive, especially given the rapid growth in Mastodon users lately, but they can be a good start.
Favorite Mastodon accounts and hashtags
Finally (if you skipped straight to this section), here are some of my favorite Mastodon accounts and hashtags. I’ll try to keep this list updated in the future.
- @Mastodon@mastodon.social : Mastodon’s main account itself.
- @Gargron@mastodon.social: Eugen Rochko, the creator and CEO/lead developer of Mastodon.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: Fedi.Tips, a site posting tips about using Mastodon and the similar federated services that make up the “fediverse.”
- @FediFollows@social.growyourown.services: FediFollows, an account that lists suggested Mastodon/fediverse accounts to follow each day. Run by the people who run the aforementioned Fedi.Directory.
- @email@example.com: the website 9 to 5 Linux.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: the website OMG Ubuntu.
- @email@example.com: Bitwarden, the open-source password manager.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: an account reporting the latest disasters in cryptocurrency/NFTs/“Web3.”
- @email@example.com: LibreOffice, the free open-source office software suite.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
- @IronSpike@mastodon.social: C. Spike Troutman, the owner of Iron Circus Comics.
- @email@example.com: comic creator (and amateur analog film photographer) Greg Pak.
- @GWillow@mastodon.social: G. Willow Wilson, the co-creator of comic character Ms. Marvel.
- @ComicContext@mstdn.social: out-of-context comic book panels.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: Neil Gaiman, the creator of the classic comic “Sandman.”
- @email@example.com: Bill Amend, the creator of the long-running comic strip “FoxTrot.”
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: Ruben Bolling, the creator of the comic strip “Tom the Dancing Bug.”
- @email@example.com: Tom Tomorrow, the creator of the political comic strip “This Modern World.”
- @NFB@socel.net: the National Film Board of Canada.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: KCTS, the main PBS affiliate for Seattle, has a Mastodon account.
- @email@example.com: WGBH, the main PBS affiliate for Boston, also has a Mastodon account.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: On the Media, a weekly podcast about the state of media.
- @muppetHistory@ohai.social: Muppet History, a fan site dedicated to the Muppets.
- @email@example.com: Just Add Color, an entertainment blog focusing on African Americans and other people of color.
- @firstname.lastname@example.org: the account of “Star Trek” actor George Takei.
- @MarkRuffalo@mastodon.social: the account of Mark Ruffalo, the actor who played Bruce Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
People of color (not included above)
#BlackMastodon: if you’re looking for Black people on Mastodon, following this hashtag is the way to go. (#BlackTwitter and #BlackFriday are also popular hashtags, but less so.)
LGBTQ people (not included above)
#QueerComics: a hashtag dedicated to LGBTQ comics (and their creators).
#QueerBooks / #LGBTQBooks: a hashtag for LGBTQ books and book fans.
#LGBTQ: the same all-purpose hashtag from elsewhere online works on Mastodon, too.
Image of Mastodon logo. (Mastodon)