Establishing a strong brand personality is essential for making your business stand out from others in your industry and class, and helps you to connect and engage with your customers on a more emotional level.
According to Oberlo, 81% of consumers have stated that they need to trust a brand before buying from them. Creating an online strategy and brand personality that embraces your business’ values, is key for building long-term trust with your online audiences, which leads to more interest, and more inbound leads.
Tesla – Innovative, World-Leading Products, Incredible Marketing.
One company that perfectly demonstrates the power of building a strong online brand personality and serving up a balanced range of content, is Tesla.
As I’m sure you are aware, Tesla is one of the world’s leading electric car manufacturers who also offer home solutions for renewable, clean energy.
Now that in itself is something that sets them apart from almost every other car manufacturer out there, and the people over at Tesla know this, which is why they don’t spend billions on marketing or advertising. In fact, Tesla marketing budget is a whopping $0!
So a company that reported $31.5 billion in revenue in 2020, has a $0 marketing budget. Why? Because they rely on their innovation and strong online presence to promote their vehicles, get the press' attention, and drive word-of-mouth referrals, which really works.
But how does their social media presence and tactics match up against their competitors’?
Tesla Vs. Ford
Before we dive into a comparison between these two automotive giants, here’s a bit of information on the two companies that you should know.
Ford Motor Company was established in June 1903, while Tesla was founded in July 2003, over 100 years later.
In 2020, Ford sold around 4.2 million vehicles across their range to dealers and distributors across the world, while Tesla, who seem to sell all of their vehicles directly to their customers, sold just shy of 500,000 units last year.
Last year, Ford reported $127 billion in revenue, four times the revenue that Tesla reported.
So if Ford is the older company, is selling more vehicles, and is reporting far greater revenue, why is it that their online following of 1.3 million followers is dwarfed by Tesla’s 9.4 million?
Simply put, Tesla puts out better, more varied, and more relaxed content, and they don't just force advertisements in their follower's faces. Tesla has also created a brand personality that works for their business, one that is more relaxed and takes a less serious approach to content than other car manufacturers, like Ford.
Straight away when you look at Tesla’s profile on Twitter, you can see that they don’t take the serious and ‘professional’ stance that Ford does.
That first tagline of ‘electric cars, giant batteries and solar’ is short and simplistic, and has been written entirely in lowercase (which does make us wince slightly – but if it works, it works) and is missing a full stop on the end.
This short and simple, albeit grammatically incorrect, bio sets the tone for the rest of Tesla’s content which takes a more light-hearted and laid back approach than their competitors.
Ford’s header on Twitter is a typical example of a company’s social media profile.
The tagline highlights that their vehicles are immensely popular and widely known across the globe, and tries to reflect the quality of their vehicles and the connection that they have with their customers.
Speaking of quality, straight away just by comparing the number of Tweets both Ford and Tesla have posted, it’s a clear indication that Ford has opted for more of quantity approach, rather than quality, with five times the number of Tesla’s tweets but only one-seventh of their followers and only a fraction of engagements on their posts.
Tesla’s more relaxed and silly brand personality continues to shine through in many of their posts across Twitter.
Take a look at this post for example. To celebrate the second anniversary of their ‘Dog Mode’ feature, which helps to keep dog’s safe and cool when left in a Tesla on a hot day, they didn’t throw some promotional or statistical piece out there about the impact it’s had; instead, they asked their followers to send in photos of their dog’s in their Tesla with dog mode on.
Content like this gets the audience involved, and looking at the comments, thousands of people shared photos and videos of their dogs in their Teslas, and a lot more people were just sharing photos of their dogs in general, or related memes.
With almost sixty thousand likes and over two thousand replies, Telsa doesn’t need to drone on about how many owners use and love ‘Dog Mode’, because they’re getting their followers to do it for them!
On Ford’s profile, their attempts to create engaging content is marred by promotional videos and imagery.
Their post recently for Mother’s Day (in the USA), could have been a much more relatable post and could have seen a lot more engagements had they used a more relevant video.
The post reads ‘Tag a Mom who powers your world forward.’ and like Tesla’s Dog Mode post, they’re trying to get the audience involved and get more comment engagement on the post. Unfortunately, the post seems to have failed with only thirteen replies and not even two hundred and fifty likes.
Had Ford used an emotionally relatable video, for example showing a mother dropping her children off at school or going on a long journey or road trip, instead of the Ford Bronco doing some off-roading, it could have seen a lot more engagement.
Understandably, the video is there to get your attention as Ford captions the video with ‘Now that we’ve got your attention’, but it could have been a much more powerful and engaging post had they taken a different, more relatable direction.
Another one of their posts, this one from back in December 2020, was executed far more smoothly and simply than the one above.
The post was a spin on the ‘How it started: / How it’s going:’ meme that rose in popularity at the end of 2020 at shows a Christmas image of Ford’s 1978 ‘Bronco’ and a recreation of the same scenario with the new model of the Bronco.
It’s a very simple post with minimal text and two images, but it garnered over four thousand six hundred likes and almost six hundred retweets.
Of course, these engagement numbers are still miles away from Tesla’s typical numbers, but it seems they could have taken a leaf out of Tesla's book by making content that their audience would find amusing and enjoyable.
Promotional Posts & Engagement
Even when it comes to promotional posts, Tesla know what they’re doing.
Rather than countless videos of their cars driving on sweeping mountain roads in the sunset followed by a bombardment of information and call to actions, Tesla post content about their vehicles, either showing them out on the road or in production, share videos sent in by Tesla owners and reshare Tweets made by their CEO, Elon Musk.
Take these two posts for example. One shows Tesla’s quirky Cybertruck at their 'Gigafactory' in Texas, the other just shows the storage in the Tesla seats factory – just take a look at the engagements!
Even when the opportunity arises for a focused promotional post, Tesla rarely take it. Most of their posts aren’t trying to get you to click through onto an article or information sheet, they're simply showing their vehicles, charging points, or solar panels in use to drive not only audience attention, but media attention as well.
This next post could have been linked through to a post about their electric Superchargers, or an information page about their Superchargers.
Instead, Tesla have just stated that there are now over six thousand of their Superchargers across Europe at over 600 locations; they have then tagged the Twitter users that sent the photos in, once again including their customers and members of their audience in their content.
Straight away this post took off with over fifty-six thousand likes and over five thousand retweets. It even grabbed the attention of the popular media websites in the car industry, like Autocar who posted this article on their website the same day this tweet posted.
The main reason we chose Ford for this comparison, (aside from the company’s sheer size and familiarity) is that they have recently launched a new vehicle to rival the Tesla Model Y.
With the ever-growing demand for eco-friendly electric vehicles, Tesla has always been at the top of their game when it came to innovation, but now Ford has taken a crack at reaching Tesla’s class with the Mustang MachE.
Taking a look at the promotional content between the Ford Mustang MachE and the Tesla Model Y is where we start to see how Ford’s more professional and stiffer approach to social media (compared to Tesla’s) impacts their engagement.
This post here, a video of the MachE and another one of Ford’s prototype all-electric vehicles driving in the snow, should have created far more of a buzz than it did, after all, you’d think a video of Ford’s most technologically advanced cars and one of their upcoming releases drifting in the snow would be something their followers would want to see.
The fact of the matter is their followers don’t have a connection with their brand like Tesla’s followers do. When the majority of Ford’s content is promotional, their followers start to expect that each post is going to be along the same lines of just throwing advertisements and promotional videos on their social media feed, so they start to scroll past them.
But with Tesla’s followers, where the content is balanced between promotional and engaging, and with the injection of their more relaxed brand personality, their followers are more welcoming of their content and see their promotional posts as informative rather than an attempt to get more sales (which of course it still is).
This post by Ford has just over fifteen thousand views and received just under five hundred likes, under one hundred retweets, and only seventeen replies.
Compare this to a very similar post by Tesla on their new Mode S Plaid driving across the snow with the caption ‘Plaid winter testing’, and it received over one million views, almost twenty-eight thousand likes, two thousand retweets, and one thousand replies.
Why? Because their audience is more engaged and more interested in their business and new releases than Ford’s audience!
Even this short six-second clip gained the attention of various online car news websites, with various articles about Tesla 'teasing the new Model S Plaid in the snow' - even the media are watching Tesla's social media very closely!
Even though Ford is a much larger, more well-known, and more successful company, their social media engagement content range and audience engagement is leagues below Tesla’s.
While Ford spent $2.28 billion on advertising in 2019 (which undoubtedly worked looking at their revenue), it still doesn’t have the same impact on engagement, interactions, and building the audience’s trust that Tesla’s organic social media activities do.
With the way things are going in today’s environmental climate and the ban on new petrol and diesel cars now being brought forward to 2030 (UK), the already growing demand for all-electric vehicles and renewable energy solutions is going to sky-rocket.
If Tesla keeps on going the way they are, with their progressive innovation, their company growth year-on-year, and their growing social media audiences and online advocates, by the time the decade is out, they could be poised to overtake Ford in annual revenue.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how long your business has been around, how well-known your company is, or how much revenue you are bringing in, if you aren’t creating a balanced range of engaging content that your audience wants to see and is going to enjoy, you aren't using social media and other platforms to your full advantage.