On Elon Vs. Zuck, and Elon’s Use of Controversy to Maximize Media Attention

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*Sigh*

Okay, let’s discuss in regards to the Elon vs. Zuck battle.

As you’ll undoubtedly recall, again in June, X proprietor Elon Musk tweeted that he’d be “up for a cage match” with Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg, in response to the information that Meta was planning to launch a brand new X rival app, forward of the discharge of Threads. To the shock of many, Zuckerberg, who’s been getting extra into MMA of late, responded that Musk simply wanted to “Ship Me Location”, implying that he was certainly up for an precise battle.

What’s ensued is a ridiculous back-and-forth between the 2, as Elon has used the potential bout as a method to seize extra consideration, and certain get extra customers to X in consequence.

Every week after this preliminary alternate, Musk claimed that there was “some likelihood” that the bout could be held in the Colosseum in Rome, and implied that he’d spoken to Italian officers about internet hosting the battle on the historic venue. Italy’s Ministry of Tradition denied this.

Every week after that, Musk re-shared a picture of himself in coaching with MMA fighters.

Zuckerberg responded together with his personal coaching picture, additionally with UFC stars:

So each multi-billionaires have been truly coaching, which appeared to recommend that the battle may truly occur. Then issues went quiet for a couple of weeks on the Elon v Musk entrance, as sense appeared to (briefly) prevail.

Issues kicked up once more final week, with Musk posting that he’s been “lifting weights all through the day, getting ready for the battle”. Elon then claimed that the battle can be live-streamed on X, with all proceeds going to charity, and additional implied that stable preparations have been now in place.

However Zuckerberg shortly denied this, and has denied all of Musk’s varied implications.

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Elon has since clarified that he’ll likely need shoulder surgery before the fight, which would require months of restoration, which fairly clearly implies that each one of Musk’s varied public statements on the potential battle have been a publicity stunt designed to drive extra curiosity in his budding social media empire. Whether or not Musk plans to really go forward with the bout in any respect or not, he has identified all alongside that he’s in all probability bodily unable to participate, so actually, it’s one other a part of the Elon circus, that he makes use of to eat up media consideration, after which deflect that to his varied enterprise pursuits.

Which, regardless of how you are feeling in regards to the man, he’s clearly superb at. All alongside, in his tenure at Twitter/X, Musk has been capable of hold getting consideration, which has possible helped to prop up the platform’s numbers, and hold individuals coming again to the app.

There’s a motive why Tesla doesn’t pay for promoting, as a result of Elon himself is such a lightning rod for the media that he can get his companies mass media protection with out having to pay for it, which additionally aligns together with his cost-minimization administration strategy.

Primarily, as famous by Platformer’s Casey Newton, Elon makes use of enterprise media’s established processes towards them to achieve mass protection, by stretching the reality, straight-up mendacity, or simply developing with outlandish feedback that set off a frenzy on-line.

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As per Newton:

It’s within the nature of enterprise journalism to imagine that CEOs of public corporations aren’t mendacity on a regular basis. And it’s in Musk’s nature to make frequent, daring pronouncements about his corporations, politics, the character of consciousness, and so forth, all of that are irresistible to editors.

Newton means that editors ought to make use of a extra skeptical strategy, and query extra of Musk’s outlandish claims, in an effort to cease him from utilizing the mainstream shops, which he claims to despise, to maintain getting himself extra consideration.

Which is totally right. There’s seemingly no prospect that an Elon v Musk battle is definitely going to occur, but even individuals inside his prolonged orbit are actually getting requested about it in their very own media interviews and protection. Simply this week, X CEO Linda Yaccarino and his ex-wife Grimes have been each requested for his or her ideas on the bout, giving extra column area to Musk’s newest bid for consideration, which is clearly working, provided that I too am now writing about it.

However I’ve resisted protecting it for that reason. It’s not actual, it’s not an actual factor, and Elon is simply utilizing this as the most recent button to push to set off the media hype cycle, and subsequent week it’ll be another loopy factor, then one other the week after that.

On this sense, Elon does appear to have taken inspiration from the Trump guide of media relations.

Varied research have proven that the one precious indicator of electoral success in social media metrics is point out quantity, i.e. in case your title is getting mentioned probably the most in social apps, you’re going to finish up profitable the election.

Sentiment, likes, followers, all of those have failed to offer any actual indication of election outcomes, however pure point out quantity has been a constant indicator of success, as easy a metric because it is likely to be.

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On this context, it pays to be an consideration seeker, it pays to be the one who says the issues that get the most individuals speaking, as a result of that expanded dialogue is usually all you might want to occupy the general public consciousness, which then influences how they vote.

Elon appears to be taking the identical strategy, in an effort to hold his social media platform afloat, by reflecting consideration again to his posts, which then sparks extra in-app engagement.

From promoting verification ticks, to letting beforehand banned customers again within the app, to backing up COVID conspiracy theories, to selling the usage of LSD. Every time engagement appears to be waning, Elon simply comes out with one other controversial remark or stance, and the media cycle kicks in to assist him out as soon as once more.  

The query then is whether or not he can hold saying and doing sufficient issues to maintain getting consideration, which so far he’s confirmed that he positively can.   

Will that be sufficient to maintain X related? Will that be the factor that retains hundreds of thousands of customers coming again to the app, even when a rival features floor?

It’s laborious to belief X’s reported utilization numbers, given Elon’s aforementioned affinity for misinformation. However he claims that utilization is rising, which might largely, at this stage, be a mirrored image of his attention-grabbing capability.   



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