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Not just cutting ads, companies go silent on Twitter accounts
General Motors’ temporary boycott of its advertising on Twitter seems to encompass much of its postings as well.
The automaker has gone largely silent on Twitter since Oct. 27, the day billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the social media empire for $44 billion.
Last month, GM said it would suspend its paid advertising on Twitter and engage in discussions with the social media platform to evaluate Twitter’s new direction under Musk. But it said its brands and executives would still tweet and, “our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue,” spokesman David Barnas said.
As of Wednesday, the last tweets to come from GM, each of its four brands and CEO Mary Barra were in mid-to-late October, before or on the day Musk bought Twitter. Musk also runs electric car company Tesla, a chief rival of GM as GM plans to launch 30 new EVs globally in the next three years.
“With a competitor owning the platform, it’s important for us to ensure our advertising strategies
and data can be safely managed,” Barnas told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, on Wednesday in an emailed statement.
Musk’s ownership has been controversial since he started talking about buying the site earlier this year and he’s fed into the controversy by doing such things as reinstating the accounts of previously banned users and offering a blue check mark for a fee.
Shortly after GM, Stellantis also put a stop to advertising on Twitter to evaluate the new leadership. Stellantis North America and its brands have continued to tweet since Musk’s purchase.
Ford Motor Co. had not been advertising on Twitter and a spokesman told the Free Press last month that it will watch Twitter’s direction under new ownership.
Ford CEO Jim Farley appears to continue to tweet regularly on Twitter, as does the Ford brand.
Barra’s last tweet was on Oct. 27, the day Musk took over. That day, she retweeted a tweet from GM’s self-driving car subsidiary Cruise that read: “Austin and Phoenix ... it’s time! Join our driverless waitlist.”
Cruise started operating a driverless taxi fleet in San Francisco this year and looks to expand the business to Austin, Texas, and Phoenix before year-end.
Chevrolet last tweeted on Oct. 27 a photo of a Silverado and the post: “Cool cruisin’ nights are here. Show us your #ChevyLove and post a picture of your ride. You might just see it in our feed!”
Buick last tweeted a photo of a Buick SUV with pumpkins in the trunk on Oct. 26 wishing people a happy national pumpkin day. GMC tweeted on Oct. 26 a post promoting the Sierra pickup’s off-roading, and Cadillac, on Oct. 17, tweeted to promote the upcoming uber-luxury Celestiq and rocker Lenny Kravitz’s involvement with it.
GM’s financial arm, GM Financial last tweeted on Oct. 26 and GM corporate last tweeted on Oct. 27, promoting its EV strategy. All the accounts remain active to interact with customers.
GM’s Barnas said the automaker does have executives and brands “still engaging on Twitter as appropriate.” GM President Mark Reuss for example has been regularly retweeting items and initiated a tweet Tuesday promoting Cadillac racing.
“We have other examples of executives beyond Mark Reuss who have been on Twitter recently, including Travis Katz and Kyle Vogt,” Barnas said, noting there may be more, but those are immediate examples that come to mind.
Katz is CEO of BrightDrop, GM’s subsidiary that makes commercial delivery EVs and other products for the delivery business. Vogt is CEO of Cruise.
Barnes confirmed GM’s brands “have not posted news content,” but he said they have been active on Twitter engaging with customers. He declined to comment on Barra’s activity on Twitter but noted that “many CEOs are not on Twitter.”
For example, Robert “RJ” Scaringe, the CEO of electric truck maker Rivian, has not tweeted since Oct. 27.
“Where we’ve had the need to engage on Twitter we continue to do so, including with our vehicle brands for customer interactions as well as some executive and other brand content, including Onstar, Brightdrop, Cruise and GM Canada,” Barnas told the Free Press on Wednesday. “For news content, Twitter is just one of many channels available to us to get our story out. We will continue to choose the channels and platforms that can be most effective at any point in time.”
GM was spending $1.7 million a month on Twitter ads, which is fairly typical for an automotive advertising buy, according to MediaRadar, which tracks advertising-related data.
A report by Media Matters last week said half of the top 100 advertisers have halted advertising on Twitter since Musk bought the site. These advertisers have accounted for nearly $2 billion in spending on the platform since 2020, and $750 million in advertising this year, according to the report.
Part of the advertising boycott is due to the uncomfortable position the advertisers are in due to Twitter content decisions under Musk’s leadership.
Musk did not respond to a tweet at him Tuesday seeking comment for this story.