Tata Motors and Tesla ke charche

An interesting and over-enthusiastic gaffe by Tata Motors’ EV division. The first tweet has since been deleted and Tata Motors handle issued a clarification.

As early as January 11th, there have been rumors in the market that Tesla was planning to sign an MoU and partner with Tata Motors to manufacture and sell their vehicles in India using Tata Motors’ facilities.

The tweet by Tata Motors EV division’s handle, though made in good humor, points to the potential partnership using the nudge-wink lyrics of the iconic 1968 Hindi film song from Brahmachari (music by Shankar Jaikishan, lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri and sung by Mohammed Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur), and adds fuel to the rumors.

You could argue that it is not even nudge-wink – it is more direct than that considering whoever wrote that tweet changed, “charche har zabaan pe” to “charche har akhbaar main”, removing all doubt what they are alluding to!

Now, the Tata Motors EV handle does not have the blue tick, though it calls itself ‘the official Twitter handle of Tata Motors Electric Mobility’. So, do we still take the rumor-fanning seriously?

Yes, we can. Because Tata Motors’ official handle issued a clarification a few hours after the Tata Motors EV’s tweet had been deleted (but not before fanning rumors on a massive scale) and that clarification included the Tata Motors EV handle!

Going by the lack of coordination between Tata Motors EV and Tata Motors, at least on Twitter, it looks like some eager-beaver wanted to have some fun at the expense of the market rumors with a too-clever tweet. It was cheeky, but dangerous, from a market standpoint.

The other party here, Tesla, has seen that up, close and personal through its CEO’s uninhibited shenanigans on Twitter that has fuelled the share price of Tesla one too many times and has been penalized often by the SEC.

Source: The Guardian.
Source: Compliance Week.

That a similar tweet fuelled the speculations and the stock price of Tata Motors in India is severely ironic and a massive coincidence considering the other party here is none other than Musk’s Tesla.

Beyond just the compliance angle, the other point to observe is the fact that the main Tata Motors handle (and the team behind it) was not aware of, or in control of what the other handles tweet. I can understand that the main corporate Tata Group handle and the team behind it not having any direct or indirect control over a Tata Motors EV handle, but Tata Motors has a direct remit over Tata Motors EV. Or, should have, in ideal circumstances. That does not seem to be the case, here.

That is a miss, and a good opportunity to learn. Not just for Tata, but for other corporates that have multiple social media handles. If the organization is a listed company, then the PR team would already be on top of news and rumors around it on a priority mode given the regulatory scrutiny that comes with it. Whether such alerts and updates are also shared with the team that handles social media content is an important consideration worth looking into. If not, for listed companies, that presents a big risk.

Most of social media’s problems start from the fact that it is free. Free to open an account and free to say whatever anyone wants. That extends to multiple problematic assumptions:

  • people assume that because they are active on some platform personally, they can also expertly handle a corporate handle on behalf of a brand.
  • brands assume that anyone and everyone is apt enough to handle corporate social media handles.

Both are myths.

In reality, a company’s social media handle is as critical as the CEO’s uttering in the mainstream media – what the social handle says could end up as news in mainstream media the next day if it is not thought-through as much as what the CEO says to media (which happens after so much thought and deliberation, usually by the CEO and their extended teams).

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