Ah Twitter, what a lovely place in cyberspace to find funny memes, resources to keep up on current events, ways ‘follow’ celebrities and interact with people close to you. Twitter is a powerful medium to get a message to many audiences.
Your average Joe on Twitter probably doesn’t think too deeply about the repercussions of a single tweet. On average a person has around 707 followers on Twitter, therefore, ordinary Joe’s tweets don’t have a particular big audience to cause a detrimental crisis or a lot of reputation salvaging.
What if you had almost 25 million followers? Would you double check and think more seriously about what content you post on Twitter? I sure know I would. Unfortunately technology entrepreneur and inventor, Elon Musk, does not necessarily have that same mindset when it comes to Twitter.
Musk has used Twitter as an interesting outlet to discuss business in regards to Tesla. Last summer Musk got in some serious legal trouble because of one single tweet. Musk tweeted that he secured financing to take Tesla private at $420 (nice). This was a shock to Tesla directors, Musk never double-checked with internal employees or filed a formal proposal about taking Tesla private. The Security Exchange Commission (SEC) had to get involved to determine the legitimacy of the tweet. Here is a break down of the events that occurred in 2018.
After the crisis last year the SEC hired “an experienced securities lawyer” (AKA baby-sitter) to approve Musk’s social media content/tweets to mitigate ambiguities. However, Musk is back at the false tweets once again. Earlier this week Musk untruthfully tweeted about the number of cars Tesla expects to make this year. Musk had to follow up and tweet what he “meant to say” and his numbers were “estimates.”
It is clear that Tesla’s revamped board and legal team has little to no control over its CEO. Elon Musk should take a step back and look at the bigger picture and weigh what could be lost or gained from a tweet. Musk has essentially 24.9 million stakeholders (followers) watching his every move on Twitter.
Musk can create a ripple effect with one single tweet. Tesla’s brand and image is built on sustainability and hopes for a greener future. Musk’s image on the other hand does not seem to follow that same mindset.
Musk has a virtual microphone to get his message across to millions of people. It is important that CEO’s are transparent and honest with their audience. From a PR angle, public figures should take Twitter more seriously since their message can potentially have many unintended consequences and damage their reputation.