• Twitter tirade or winning response? A few lessons from Elon Musk

    With 21.8 million followers on Twitter and 7.6 million fans on Instagram, Elon Musk is a South African business magnate who's gotten our attention countless times – and for good reason. He's the co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla and the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the first private company to launch an object into orbit around the sun.The object? Musk's very own Tesla Roadster. 

    Most recently, Elon made the news for his personal response to Consumer Reports after their not-so-complimentary review of Tesla's Model 3. Could this be the new norm in professional communication? Or is Elon a rare exception? Let's take a closer look. 

    Elon Musk, CEO, engineer, champion of bad reviews

    When Consumer Reports refused to recommend the Tesla Model 3, Elon Musk fired back on Twitter, slamming the magazine with data contradicting their report. 

    Consumer Report tests found braking weaknesses in the Model 3. Musk summed these up to "a question of firmware tuning" and even offered a solution for the magazine to consider. 

    What followed was a series of tweets from Musk, each offering a valid response to any issues with the Model 3 as well as other topics, including allegations that Tesla had fired workers who wanted to form a union. 

    What Elon Musk can teach us about bad reviews 

    While Musk's approach won't work for every business, there are a few lessons here when it comes to handling bad reviews on social media: 

    1. Show your followers love all the time

    Had Elon's first Twitter appearance been his attack on Consumer Reports, he'd have been classed a defensive, raving lunatic. 

    His response was well received, however, and that's because Elon consistently shares a positive message. He doesn't wait for a crisis to promote his brand and neither should you. 

    2. Respond with facts, not feelings

    Elon's responses were all accurate, grounded in empirical data. 

    When you write back to disgruntled customers, ensure your response is also backed by facts – not feelings. It's important not to focus exclusively on proving the other person wrong. A he said, she said debate never ends well. 

    3. Offer a resolution 

    People are twice as likely to share a negative interaction over a positive one, according to Echo Global research. Often, that's because they want something 

    Don't bury your head in the sand. Don't bury your head in the sand. Find out what that 'something' is and offer the customer a solution that works for both sides.

    There aren't 21.8 million people in this world who own a Tesla or a rocketship. Somehow though, Elon has 21.8 million followers and that's because they like him. He shares his personality and goes behind the scenes of his businesses – both key aspects of building brand awarness. 

    While you might wish to take a softer approach, it's important to humanise your brand, particularly on social media. 

    For more stories like this, check out our full Corporate Affairs and Marketing Insights page. 

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