Social Media, Startup Advice

Elon Musk’s social media lesson: Don’t be afraid to offer help

Fi Bendall /

Elon Musk Jay Weatherill South Australia

Elon Musk and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill in July 2017. Source: AAP/Ben Macmahon

Earlier this month it was announced at least 50,000 homes in SA will be given solar panels and batteries in a scheme designed by Elon Musk’s Tesla and the SA Government to build the world’s largest virtual power plant. How did this momentous win for renewable energy and the people of South Australia come about?

In no small part it was because of the time Elon Musk answered a call for help on Twitter from Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. But you don’t have to be Elon Musk or run a company like Tesla to look for hero opportunities on social media and respond to an individual or a community’s call for help.

Elon Musk is one of the highest profile people in the world. His personal branding and marketing is up there with the likes of Richard Branson. But that doesn’t mean you and your business can’t take a leaf from his book and use social media as a way to showcase all that is good about your business, especially when it comes to playing the hero.

In March 2017, Musk was quick to respond when Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes tweeted asking if a company like Tesla could help the citizens of South Australia out with their prevalent energy supply issues.

Cannon-Brookes was motivated to tweet by a Fairfax article in which Tesla’s vice-president for energy products, Lyndon Rive, said Tesla had the technology to help fix the ailing energy network. This got the ball rolling on Twitter, with Musk putting his name behind Rive’s statement as well.

A little less than a year later and the people of South Australia are seeing the practical results of what started out as a Twitter bet. It’s not the first time Musk has reached out on Twitter to act upon a request for help or even a complaint from a customer. Musk understands that not only is this a nice thing to do, it’s also a powerful way to boost your personal and company brand, and to get some free publicity.

The help your business offers to customers and others does not have to be Elon Musk-like in scale. But you should be keeping tabs on your social media accounts — beyond just mentions of your company’s name — for instances in which you might be able to help someone out.

You don’t have to turn your business model over entirely to being a Good Samaritan, but finding ways you can genuinely help when help is required could deliver some very beneficial returns in terms of good PR — as well as some good karma too!

NOW READ: Elon Musk sells over 4,000 Boring Company flamethrowers, denies he’s secretly creating a zombie apocalypse

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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