Mastodon may seem daunting at first, but believe me, it’s worth the short learning curve. Once you get used to no ads and no algorithm, the rest comes naturally. You have to curate the folks you follow, there’s nothing to spoon-feed you content.
If you haven’t signed up yet, put a little thought and research into which instance to start out with as your home base. Bigger isn’t better, ask yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to know your moderator? Some instances are focused on art, some are politics, some are STEM, or law, or journalists, etc, etc. What that means is that on your ‘local’ timeline, you will see everything that folks on your instance are posting. Your ‘home’ timeline gives you everything from who you follow anywhere in the fediverse. Your ‘federated’ timeline is everything from everyone you are connected to, and all of their connections too.
Here are some of the helpful resources I’ve found to get started. Note: Mastodon is one piece of the Fediverse. This article by axbom and many more on his site are very useful: https://axbom.com/fediverse
This page is a good start for new Mastodon users: https://fedi.tips
This page has lots of great info: https://mastodon.help
Some insight into the guy behind Mastodon:
I joined a mid-sized regional instance called https://sfba.social and have had an excellent experience with the admins.
The beauty of the Fediverse is that you can be personally acquainted or even best friends with whoever is running your instance/front door to the Fediverse. For instance: https://toad.social ran by Dave Troy or https://social.snorklr.com operated by Bret Pettichord, Clearing_Fog, and Lincoln’s Bible are each instances that came online after I was established with sfba. If I were I joining now, I’d likely go with one of theirs, but sfba is fine too. Exploring different instances is fun, take a little time with it.
A lot of journalists are flocking to instances such as https://journa.host which is ok for starters, but a better solution is for news orgs to set up their own instances. Their journalists can then all have verified home accounts.
You can follow your congress-people and encourage them to bring their colleages on to Mastodon too. Here is a spreadsheet with congressional accounts.
Same for journalists. If your feed isn’t ‘newsie’ enough, don’t blame the algorithm, (or lack thereof). You’ve gotta follow to build your feed. Here’s a spreadsheet with over 1400 journalists from around the world on Mastodon.
Verification on Mastodon is simple, logical, and self-service. There is no arbitrary system, you simply add a snippet of code to the home page of whatever site you are in charge of. This page explains how.
There are many 3rd party apps for both iOS and Android. The official Mastodon iOS app is not recommended, Toot and Metatext seem to be the best at the moment.
Finding your Twitter friends on Mastodon so you can follow them is easy. If they have their Mastodon handle in their Twitter profile, this tool scrapes your follower list and lets you find and follow them directly. Movetodon.org
Here’s how to juice up your feed when you’re just getting acquainted. Follow #hashtags, (something you couldn’t do on the bird.) Just search up a tag and hit the + follow button and your feed will be full of folks using it.