In 21st Century digital marketing, social media matters.
If your brand, company or organisation doesn’t interact with people on social media, you’re probably missing a fairly significant trick. But while that’s an important rule of thumb to get you started – it’s a bit more complicated than just being on social media.
What a lot of companies discover once they get their social media campaigns up and running, is that how you do social media marketing is far more important than doing it in the first place.
You might be tempted to think that the amount of attention a brand gets on social media is broadly proportionate to the size and reach of the company itself. In most cases that’s not far wrong, but there’s something to be learned from those that buck the trend. And there’s nobody that bucks the trend quite like Elon Musk.
Let’s talk about Tesla.
Tesla’s social media success
Elon Musk’s car company, Tesla, are absolute giants at social media. In fact, in terms of raw volume of mentions on social media, Tesla is up there with the car industry’s biggest names, ranking third of all the world’s major car manufacturers. That’s right, they’re ahead of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Toyota – and pretty much everybody except Audi and BMW.
Let’s put that into context. In 2016, Tesla recorded revenues of $7 billion (£5.05 billion), against Volkswagen’s €217.3 billion (£192 billion). In terms of employees, Tesla operates with roughly 33,000 employees, a paltry number against the Volkswagen group’s 626,715.
In the same year, BMW collected revenues of around €94 billion and had 124,729 employees. The list goes on. Tesla doesn’t even appear as one of the world’s 50 biggest car manufacturers. To say that Tesla is punching above its weight is a vast understatement.
So fair enough – we can’t all be Elon Musk. But for SMEs everywhere, this is encouraging news. How many times has your brand resigned itself to being unable to compete on social media with the giants of your industry? Well now you know exactly how possible it is, the question is how you go about doing it.
The car industry in 2018
To truly answer this question we must turn away from social media from a moment and look at the wider Tesla brand, their marketing position and where that fits into its industry. In true Musk style, Tesla lies at the cutting edge of tomorrow’s technology. Everything about Elon Musk says ‘futuristic’ – from his ambitious plans to commercialise outer space to the futuristic Tesla factory.
Against that backdrop, Tesla’s day-to-day product sales are rising quickly; an effect that is most apparent and most shocking in Germany. In what is seen across the world as a powerhouse car manufacturing economy, Tesla doubled its sales in the first half of 2017. That’s right – in the country of BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi and countless more – 1,800 customers a day turn their back on the country’s traditional manufacturers in favour of a small American manufacturer founded barely 15 years ago.
This comes at a particularly interesting time for the German car industry, which is so far failing to make low emission vehicles financially feasible and desirable for consumers and manufacturers. In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, both the German and global car industries are primed to embrace something new.
Essentially, the car industry is facing rapid transformation, and there’s a gaping hole there waiting to be filled by whoever can offer the car of the future in a tangible, marketable, accessible and affordable way.
Tesla appears to be the most promising candidate for the crown.
But what has this got to do with marketing? The point is that Tesla is offering something other than just a car. They’re offering tomorrow’s car at today’s prices. Whether people decide to buy it or not, people react to things they’re interested in. They’re creating hype – and where do people react, share and interact with things they’re interested in? Social media. And that’s where the magic starts.
Social media success
But of course, that’s just the beginning. If there is one rule that we can take away from Tesla’s social media style, it’s that personality matters.
In their arrogance, brands often assume that there’s a ‘community’ of adoring fans waiting there on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for the smallest morsel of information about what’s going on in their company. Brands that try a bit too hard to be your friend are perhaps the worst offenders for this. Social media is not like advertising – and you need to learn to speak to people in their own language to gain any chance of success; you’re being welcomed into their space, not the other way around.
Tesla is particularly good at this. The brand’s Twitter account, for example, tweets less often than you’d expect from a major international brand – and the content is genuinely interesting and engaging. The brand starts by assuming you don’t care about what it has to say and proceeds to tell you exactly why you should.
— Franz von Holzhausen (@woodhaus2) December 8, 2017
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) February 4, 2018
— Electrek.Co (@ElectrekCo) January 4, 2018
It’s compelling stuff.
Building a personality
As far as personality is concerned, few of us can compete with Elon Musk. But we can learn a few things from his success. The point is that people interact with people, faces and personalities. Too many brands operate as faceless entities, and too much marketing presents companies as ‘personality-lite’ and automatous.
It’s not easy, but in some cases, when you’re talking to a global audience it can be worth thinking about making it clear there are actual people on the other end of your brand once in a while. Distinguish your business from the faceless branded automatons that all speak in eerie unison at you on Twitter.
Personality matters and it’s the information you share and the words you use to do so that establish your company’s social media personality. Get this right, and you’re business will connect with the world.
How to speak social with language translation services
As far as speaking people’s language goes, you can trust us to take your message to a global audience. Social media is all well and good until you realise you’re shipping out to Belarus next month, and the nuance of your brand’s personality doesn’t quite translate into Belarusian. That’s where Bubbles can help