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

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

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 struggle.

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 seemingly get extra customers to X because of this.

Every week after this preliminary alternate, Musk claimed that there was “some probability” that the bout could be held in the Colosseum in Rome, and implied that he’d spoken to Italian officers about internet hosting the struggle 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 along with his personal coaching picture, additionally with UFC stars:

So each multi-billionaires have been really coaching, which appeared to recommend that the struggle would possibly really occur. Then issues went quiet for a number 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, making ready for the struggle”. Elon then claimed that the struggle could be live-streamed on X, with all proceeds going to charity, and additional implied that strong preparations have been now in place.

However Zuckerberg rapidly denied this, and has denied all of Musk’s numerous implications.

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 numerous public statements on the potential struggle 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 half of the Elon circus, that he makes use of to eat up media consideration, and then deflect that to his numerous enterprise pursuits.

Which, irrespective of how you are feeling in regards to the man, he’s clearly excellent at. All alongside, in his tenure at Twitter/X, Musk has been in a position to hold getting consideration, which has seemingly helped to prop up the platform’s numbers, and hold folks coming again to the app.

There’s a cause 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 along with his cost-minimization administration method.

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

As per Newton:

It’s within the nature of enterprise journalism to assume that CEOs of public corporations will not be 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 on, all of that are irresistible to editors.

Newton means that editors ought to make use of a extra skeptical method, and query extra of Musk’s outlandish claims, so as to cease him from utilizing the mainstream retailers, which he claims to despise, to hold getting himself extra consideration.

Which is fully appropriate. There’s seemingly no prospect that an Elon v Musk struggle is definitely going to occur, but even folks 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 house 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 because of this. It’s not actual, it’s not an actual factor, and Elon is simply utilizing this as the newest 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 e-book of media relations.

Numerous 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 essentially the most in social apps, you’re going to find yourself profitable the election.

Sentiment, likes, followers, all of these have failed to present 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.

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 want to occupy the general public consciousness, which then influences how they vote.

Elon appears to be taking the identical method, so as 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 use of LSD. Each 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 hold getting consideration, which so far he’s confirmed that he positively can.   

Will that be sufficient to hold 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 exhausting 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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