I've been posting a lot on our Mastodon private server for 2 months now. The more I use it, the more I love it and the concept of a decentralized, federated web. Decentralization as a concept has picked up a lot of steam this year on its own. Coincidentally, it was also the theme of this season's Silicon Valley, too. The concept of not relying on one single place to distribute information (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is exciting and innovative, but still nascent in execution. Mastodon still has a long way to go to compete with Facebook's 2 billion active users, but I have high hopes and expectations for this new phase of the internet.
One lingering positive of how brands can benefit from a decentralized platform like Mastodon is verification -- and I don't mean the little blue checkmark beside Twitter handles. I'm talking about just the website itself. For an example, let's use CNN.com -- a site everyone goes to only when they want to test their internet connection. If CNN.com were running their own Mastodon server, then we could be sure every update posted came from a verified CNN reporter, producer, director, or IT head. Wouldn't it seem a LOT more legitimate reading something than came from @AshleighBanfield@cnn.com? Your own Mastodon instance could still federate with CNN.com's instance and you could still toot to them, but at least you would rest easy knowing it’s the real Ashleigh Banfield reporting.
Subsequently, now CNN has the responsibility to make sure Ashleigh Banfield doesn't toot out anything extremely inflammatory because their brand is on the line. So if Ashleigh Banfield wakes up one morning and decides to go on a alt-right pro-Nazi rant, CNN can take action accordingly OR your instance can decide to silence CNN's.
Finally, I've given great consideration to re-structuring my own domain to be on my own server (again, I know) and running open source software. I know I am capricious in where I keep my content and WordPress was never that kind to me to begin with, but the more I research and learn about decentralized platforms, the more I want to support the movement. I've already paid for a year of SquareSpace service, so I may just wait until February to decouple from them.
In the meantime, if you're still curious about Mastodon, I highly recommend this write-up from Ginny McQueen. It's a very succinct and fun introduction to Mastodon. I also recommend her blocklist, too, to weed out all the undesirable instances out there.