Brands in the News

Learning from the Chaos at Twitter

22 Nov 2022  

Twitter is in complete disarray. Elon Musk, since purchasing the company for $44 billion, has made a series of moves ranging from strange to bizarre.

Will all this work out for Twitter and Elon? Perhaps. Twitter had been a somewhat stagnant brand for many years. Today, it is anything but. The company is making big changes and people are talking about it. There is excitement and interest, and activity is spiking. All of this is positive.

Still, you have to be worried about two things. First, the brand of Twitter is changing. It used to be a somewhat neutral place where people could comment on and discuss current events. It is now Elon Musk’s social media platform. Will everyone be happy supporting the Elon Musk platform? That is unclear.

Second, the company apparently fired 50% of the workers. Elon Musk told the rest that, “We will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” so many of them left.

Thinking that Twitter will continue to function well means believing that most of the people there were not adding significant value to the day-to-day operation. I find that hard to believe.

I’ve started receiving spam messages on Twitter in some foreign language for the first time that I can recall, which suggests that all is not well.

While the outcome isn’t clear, there are a few things we can learn from the chaos.

Things We Can Learn

Don’t depend on one brand or network

Twitter might be imploding right before our eyes. The network could well crash or fade away without the infrastructure behind it. Certainly, advertisers are certainly fleeing along with the employees.

It is a good reminder not to rely on one network or one brand for a company, a career, or your self-identity. How can a brand or network get into trouble? Simple! A crazy billionaire buys it and implements strange policies.

This is one more reason not to get a tattoo of your favorite brand’s logo.

If you are working with multiple brands or platforms, you have some options should one get into trouble.

Keep your resume and network up to date

Thousands of people from Twitter are now looking for work, much to their surprise. They join thousands from Meta and Amazon. And quite a few from Tyson who aren’t excited about life in Arkansas.

That is the reality of life in the business world. You can be fired at any moment.

The best defense? Keep your resume up to date. More important, maintain your network. When you are in transition, your contacts are the key to your search process. So, check in with people. Make time to have a coffee or lunch. Be there in person and build a relationship.

Give people a reason to show up

Elon Musk apparently told people they would need to work long hours at high intensity and be in the office every day. What was less clear was the why.

If you want someone to work exceptionally hard, you need to give them a reason. Some people will work 20 hours a day inspired by a mission to make the world a better place. Other people will put in the hours to make a lot of money. Still others want to have an impact on a business or brand they care about.

Why work hard at Twitter? It isn’t clear. To make Elon wealthy? That isn’t particularly motivating. He already is wealthy. For a big bonus? To help the world? To have leave a legacy?

If you ask people to work hard but don’t explain why they should, people will leave. And that is what people have done at Twitter.

Be humble

If Elon fails at Twitter, it will largely be because he failed to listen. He walked in and started making decisions, many of which were bad decisions. He was arrogant, acting first and listening later.

This won’t work for most people. When starting in a new role, humility goes a long way. You have a lot to learn, and, in most cases, you can expect to be the least informed person in the room.

The Outlook

It is hard to bet against Elon Musk, but after his first days you have to wonder how things will work out.


1 Response

  1. Joseph Rhee says:

    In an age of ‘purpose’, not having a purpose and coming in as the billionaire dictator all does not create brand loyalty, the opposite? Thank you for reminding us to have humility in management and brand building whether you are a billionaire or not 🙂

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