Some of you may be aware of the recent incident on a German highway that involved a Tesla and inspired Elon Musk to a good deed that is running through the press these days.
This story is not the first time Elon Musk showed that he is a master of using Twitter’s superpower for branding and marketing. There have been several big impacts on Tesla that followed a simple tweet from Elon Musk. But Elon Musk is not quiet in between these tweets that make a splash in the press. He knows how to keep his followers engaged and listening.
Let us take a closer look at what Elon Musk does right on Twitter – and see what you can learn from this Twitter case study:
1. Acknowledging the Hero
You may not have heard of this incident as it took place on a highway outside of Munich in German: A car was driving driverless on a motorway as the driver had a medical issue and lost consciousness. Another driver noticed the problem and heroically overtook the driverless car, set his own car in front of the car and slowed both cars down to a standstill.
This heroic act for sure prevented a major accident!
Chance had it that the hero driver drove a Tesla Model S.
And what did Elon Musk do? He took the chance and promised the Tesla Driver that Tesla would cover all repair costs to the Tesla.
In appreciation, Tesla is providing all repair costs free of charge and expedited. https://t.co/D68HNJcCoQ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 15, 2017
The incident on the highway took place on Monday. It went all through the German press, and I read about it. But honestly, I had no clue that the hero driver was driving a Tesla.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk sent the above tweet with the promise. And on Thursday the whole incident went through the press again, this time duly mentioning that the hero was driving a Tesla. And this time the story was picked up by international press as well.
How much do you think this stunt costs Elon Musk? A couple of thousand dollars at the most for repairing the damaged Tesla.
How much marketing and branding impact will this story have? Priceless.
2. From Tweet to Reality in 6 days
In December 2016 a Tesla Owner complained that people use the Supercharger spots as parking space – even if their car is long loaded. He did so in a direct tweet to Elon Musk.
@elonmusk the San Mateo supercharger is always full with idiots who leave their tesla for hours even if already charged.
— Loic Le Meur (@loic) December 11, 2016
His reaction was imminent:
Image Source: Screenshot from Twitter
And he did not just make a promise. He took action. After an incredible 6 days, the answer was there. You can also find it when you click on the above tweet and scroll down the conversation on that tweet.
Elon Musk and his team had come up with a solution that charges 0.40 cents per minute if you park at a Supercharger spot after your car is fully charged. It took them 6 days to make this solution!
This shows something else: Even though Tesla by now is a huge company wth over 30k employees, they still act agile as a startup. That is a huge feat.
3. One tweet multiplying the market value of Tesla company
On March 30, 2015, a single Tweet from Elon Musk added 900$ Mio to the market value of the Tesla company. By simply announcing that a new product will be unveiled at the end of April sent the value of Tesla shares through the roof.
Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015
It sure helped that Elon Musk has such a large following (>7 Mio. followers) – and it also helped that other accounts including @MarketWatch picked up the story.
Image Source: Twitter
4. Hiring 1.6k Engineers and starting the search on Twitter
At the end of 2015, Elon Musk announced that Tesla was looking for software engineers for the Autopilot software team at Tesla.
Ramping up the Autopilot software team at Tesla to achieve generalized full autonomy. If interested, contact [email protected]
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2015
But he would not be Elon Musk if he stopped at simply tweeting a job listing. He made sure that everybody knew this was a top priority and that HE would be the one dealing with applications.
Again this story was picked up by press and spread around the world.
What is Elon Musk doing Right on Twitter
Now, Elon Musk is obviously doing something right on Twitter. It shows in the number of his followers. But what is far more, it shows through the impact of his tweets.
1. He is aware that Twitter needs personality
He could have used the Tesla Twitter account for some of these tweets. Tesla also has an impressive number of 1.27 Mio. followers.
My guess is that it was a conscious decision that Elon Musk used his personal account for these occasions.
On Twitter, it is far easier to build followers and engagement for a personal account than for a brand. If you are starting out with Twitter keep in mind that people like to connect to people.
2. Elon Musk makes his Twitter account personal
Elon Musk has one of the very few Twitter accounts with that impressive number of over 7 Mio. followers who still responds personally to some tweets. Of course, he cannot answer all tweets that mention him – but a fair number of his tweets are personal responses to ordinary people like you and me.
And he gets rewarded with a ton of retweets and likes for this effort.
3. Elon Musk knows about the power of humor
No, you don’t have to tweet jokes all day to engage your audience. But some tweets that inspire a smile in your audience will help engagement and will also help to make you more personal and approachable.
4. Elon Musk knows how to highjack news
The above example with the Tesla driver stopping the driverless car on a highway is a great example of newsjacking. The original story did not say anything about the Tesla. The news was not about Tesla. But Elon Musk made the news about Tesla. And the second time around the story was all about Tesla.
Sure, not everybody gets a chance like this. But there have been other cases where a brand highjacked the news and made the hype their own. Just see how Oreo highjacked the power outage at the super bowl.
It sure helps Elon Musk in his Twitter branding and marketing efforts that Tesla and his other ventures are hyped projects and get frequent mentions on Twitter and in the news. But it is also obvious from the above examples that Elon Musk has understood a thing or two about how branding and marketing works. We can all learn from him and how he uses his power to get awesome exposure for Tesla and some of his other projects.
How about you? Have you made some news your own – even if it is on a smaller scale? Did you come up with an outstanding tweet that engaged with your audience and got you far more exposure than expected?