Why Elon Musk is a Social Media Superstar?
Tesla Inc. has a $0 advertising spend (Or so they say!)
They don’t even have a CMO and it is said that the marketing department is non-existent in their company. Yet, they’re still one of the most talked-about brands on social media. (Although we’re sure there are some creative geniuses behind all the chatter)
A lot of people forget one key factor in this $0 equation – their eccentric (we’ll go with this adjective for now) CEO, Mr. Elon Musk, or as the internet fondly calls him, Muskmelon or Space Karen. When one studies his social media usage and strategy – even though it seems like there definitely isn’t one – we realise that the reason Tesla Inc. doesn’t have a CMO is that their CEO is inadvertently playing that role, too.
We’ve previously spoken about the importance of building a personal brand in our earlier blogs, and while more and more organisational leaders are taking to social media to become the face of their companies, this is still a largely untapped strategy. The reason is that most companies still haven’t figured out how to capitalise on their greatest resources – their people. That, and most of them are still discovering the power of media. Gone are the days when you only have to be formal and authoritative – in fact, when you’re done reading this blog, you may just want your CEO to start tweeting about his new flamethrower!
PS: In case you’re still figuring that bit out, we’d be happy to help you out with it.
Elon Musk, on the other hand, has been the face of his brands from day one. Yes, he may be a little messy and post every random thought that hits him and make weed references when talking about stock prices – but it works!
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which he has leveraged his great sense of humour and incredible authenticity to build a brand for himself on social media – Twitter, in particular – and have some of that hype spill over to his business ventures, too:
The action: He created 20,000 flamethrowers (called ‘Not A Flamethrower’) and made them sell out in just five days. His posts were incredibly hilarious and ridiculous, and his sense of humour – which matches that of a teenager – is perfectly encapsulated in the tweet below.
The insight: It’s the internet – ridiculous stuff always grabs eyeballs. But, his approach and use of casual language made it captivating and gave us all a good laugh – enough for people to genuinely become curious and make the purchase.
Terms & conditions for “Not-a-Flamethrower”
Please use as directed to avoid unintentionally burning things down. For simple & concise instructions, we drew upon wisdom in great Dr Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2018
The action: Tesla Twitter consistently engages with Elon Musk’s Twitter. Along with this, they also engage in relevant conversations and practice social listening, where Tesla often mirror’s their CEO’s sense of humour.
The insight: This doesn’t just help maintain consistency in the messaging and aid the audience in relating the brand back to its CEO, it also gives Tesla the opportunity to be exposed to Musk’s followership and gets it more eyeballs.
Most people don’t know there’s a whole box of Easter eggs with every Tesla. Just tap logo on center screen & wait. Easy access to most of discovered ones. More coming …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 4, 2018
The action: Elon Musk really loves his mom, and they constantly comment on each other’s posts, too. Don’t we all just love that kind of relationship? Again, this doesn’t just give us a peek into his family life, but also builds more authenticity – both for him, and his businesses, too.
The insight: The mom card might just be the best card to play when you want to gain some brownie points on social media. That, and this also helps make him more relatable, and humanise his associated brands as well.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 12, 2020
The action: It’s important to note that with no marketing budget (as they say), his businesses don’t have an influencer budget either (which is again questionable). Then again, why would they need one? He is their greatest in-house influencer, and even though some of the things he says may be controversial, there’s no denying that they grab attention, no matter what.
The insight: This is his form of earned, not bought advertising – and it is a stellar example, too. We all like someone with an opinion, even though we may or may not agree with them. And, it gives the audience something to debate on by sparking conversation as well.
I think there is a >0% chance Tesla could be the biggest company
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2021
The action: He says anything that comes into his mind, with no filter. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s a random thought, and sometimes it’s controversial. You never really know when it comes to Mr. Musk.
The insight: Being authentic is certainly a great way to stand out, and when you engage with your audience with vocabulary that resonates with them and invites conversation, you also create a positive parasocial relationship with them.
I love Art Deco
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 2, 2021
The action: When there is advertising involved is when the audience asks to do it themselves, and Mr. Musk obliges – even when it’s a 5th grader asking. Yes, this is still all completely free!
The insight: Build a fanbase, have a great product, and engage with your audience – and they’ll want to become free spokespersons for your brand, on their own accord.
Thank you for the lovely letter. That sounds like a great idea. We’ll do it! https://t.co/ss2WmkOGyk
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 2, 2017
Well, it looks like even the most random-looking posts may have a strong strategy of building authenticity and engagement behind them.
This also demonstrates the importance of building a personal brand, how that can spill over into your ventures – whether it be positive or negative – and what a major role social media plays in it. In today’s world, it is the best way to put your voice out there and reach your target audience effectively and with relative ease. On a separate note, if want some ideas on how you can go about your company’s logo and branding, please do read this.
So, what are your thoughts on Elon Musk and his social media activity? Do you think that there’s a well-thought-out strategy behind it, or it just all sort of… fell into place?