April 4, 2018 By Zak Mehan
Every year brands seek to take advantage of April Fools’ Day to show they have a little personality. This year came with the added challenges of April Fool’s day falling not only on a weekend but on Easter, which prompted some companies to get a little creative with their calendars. But, regardless of timing, many jokes and pranks have been overshadowed by facetious tweets from Elon Musk, the tech mogul and CEO of beleaguered automaker Tesla Motors.
Fresh off a 20 percent drop in share price, a massive product recall and multiple fatal accidents involving Tesla’s autopilot feature, Musk posted a series of tweets claiming that Tesla had filed for bankruptcy. One tweet showed a picture of Musk laying against one of his automobiles claiming he was surrounded by empty bottles of “Teslaquilla” with dried tear tracks on his cheeks, laying under a cardboard box with “Bankwupt!” written on it.
We’ve got some mixed feelings on this. First, it’s pretty callous. A big driver of negative coverage has been actual fatalities. At the same time, Musk’s key audience (and critics) is investors, and production figures or the financial impact of the recall may be higher on their minds.
With that audience, the joke is an acknowledgment of setbacks and external concerns about the company, while also laughing them off, again showing boundless confidence from Musk in his product and company.
Alternatively, the joke could have been an effort to reclaim some of the news headlines about the company – drawing focus back into the cult of Musk rather than Tesla’s performance as a company. Whether it did that or simply prolonged the lifecycle of the negative stories, we’re really not sure. Either way, Mr. Musk’s sense of humor seems to have been fairly short-lived.
While a number of industries have collectively been feeling the impact of President Donald Trump’s thumbs, it has been a little while since a single company (except for individual media brands, of course) felt the hot beam of the White House spotlight.
That is, until two rafts of tweets were unleashed at the end of last week and beginning of this one expressing, once again, deep ire with Amazon for putting a tremendous cost on the postal system to its own benefit. The result of Monday’s barrage was a 5 percent dip in Amazon’s share price and a personal loss to Jeff Bezos of around $16 billion.
Amazon is slightly unique in its vulnerability to regulation but far from alone in being open to damage from angry tweets from the president. This should be a reminder to companies to make sure they are prepared if a tweet rolls their way from Washington. Have soon good stories that fit the president’s agenda ready to share. Of course, make sure crisis and response protocols are up to date and that roles and responsibilities are clear. Or, if you want to be really prepared, why not try a full simulation?
Pew Research conducted a recent poll to assess how Americans are feeling about social media companies. Above all, users are concerned about their privacy and the misuse of personal data.
This isn’t a new concern but has grown substantial momentum in the last month as a result of the scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. Now, less than half of Americans trust social media sites to protect their data, notably with a quarter of respondents indicating that they were “Not at all confident” in these sites protecting their data.
This should worry companies, as 59 percent of users still said it would be easy to stop using social media sites. Facebook, for one, has introduced sweeping changes to the way advertisers deploy user data. Over the last week, the company announced it would shutter access to Partner Categories, a feature that allowed advertisers to supplement targeting with data from brokers, such as those providing recent purchase or household income data.
The company even went a step further, mandating that companies using their own individual user data must have consent to use this data for targeting over email. On Instagram, the company is reducing how much data developers can collect from its API. Clearly, companies are concerned consumers’ distrust may become more than a feeling.
Mozilla’s new Firefox add-on stops Facebook tracking your online habits The Verge
LinkedIn Goes All-In on B2B Video LinkedIn Blog
Facebook eyes broader political ad disclosures, but won’t say when Axios
April Fools’ Day is apparently also a good day to throw some serious shade at your rivals.