Auto brands have relegated Twitter to a news and customer service channel as the platform’s daily active user count continues to diminish.
But Tesla —always the black sheep—is breaking away from the pack.
In 2018, Tesla generated the most engagement on Twitter of any auto brand, garnering over two million interactions. The brand alone accounted for a fifth of interactions with all brands analyzed in Gartner L2’s report on how auto brands generate awareness in the digital age. On a platform widely knocked for its shrinking follower base, Tesla still saw incredible growth of 43%, ending the year with over 3.2 million followers. Primarily using its Twitter account for news and updates about the brand’s limited lineup, Tesla only tweets about eight times per week, well below the Index average of 28.
To no one’s surprise, Tesla’s account gets a significant bump in engagement from celebrity CEO Elon Musk, who touts nearly eight times as many followers as the brand on Twitter. Musk posts about three times as frequently as Tesla, generating about 3.5 times as many interactions per post. While Musk tweets regularly about Tesla, he also mentions his other endeavors like SpaceX and The Boring Company, in addition to occasionally stirring up trouble with the SEC. Musk retweets Tesla about twice a week, but these posts often receive just 40% the interactions of his other tweets.
Although not every auto brand has a celebrity CEO who reels in engagement by the boatload, Gartner L2 observed best-in-class auto brands adopt the same general tactic of connecting to a wider social universe instead of treating different platforms as siloed lanes. For many brands, this means repurposing successful Instagram and YouTube content to drive engagement on Twitter. Dodge and Jeep were the only other brands in the study to break a million interactions on Twitter, and did so by primarily reposting user-generated content and mimicking Instagram strategies. Twitter can still be an arena for generating engagement if brands leverage their social content across all platforms.