Tesla just launched a new social platform on its website designed to enable owners and fans of the brand to "[t]ake actions on behalf of Tesla and the movement for cleaner energy."
Plot twist: Elon Musk had Tesla launch a social platform
The all-electric automaker's new microsite — which was dubbed the "Tesla Engagement Platform" — already includes information on how residents of Nebraska may support the firm's push to enable direct service and sales in the state, in addition to fundraising for disaster relief in Texas (from the frigid winter storm), and forthcoming events for owners.
"Engage Tesla is a new platform for both Tesla's public policy team and Tesla Owner's Clubs," reads the maiden post on the automaker's new microsite. "Its goal is to create a digital home base for all of our work, and make it easier for Tesla community members to learn what's top of mind for us, take meaningful action, and stay in the loop."
However, some Tesla enthusiasts may not be so thrilled about the new microsite. The firm is also closing its long-standing forums section of the website — a place where owners and interested buyers could come together to give praise, offer suggestions, or lodge complaints with the all-electric manufacturer about its products. Notably, the forums were also unmoderated, which meant no filter from spam and trolls.
As of writing, Tesla's message boards are still active, but a notice at the top showed up this week informing users that the forums will pivot to read-only beginning on March 15. "To continue the conversation with the Tesla community," says the notice, "visit engage.tesla.com."
Tesla's 'Engagement Platform' to bring die-hard supporters deeper into the fold
Tesla's Engagement Platform seems like a push to leverage the heavy enthusiasm of the firm's ardent supporters — consolidating the work they were doing on their own. For example, the Tesla Owners club had successfully raised $10,000 to lend support to the Del Valle, Texas community — which is adjacent to the construction site of the company's new factory. Notably, Tesla owners have lobbied governments to embrace a broader acceptance of green energy policies.
However, this new microsite also signifies the first direct feedback loop between customers and the company's policy team. Tesla's Engagement Platform also lowers the learning curve for people to apply for membership to local Tesla owners' clubs, and peruse events.
The new site is also in line with Tesla's recent push to bring die-hard enthusiasts into an even closer relationship — like when the firm accepted questions from retail shareholders during earnings calls.
Some users saddened at the news of old forums' impending end
As a social "engagement platform," Tesla's new microsite includes a commenting system, one via which several users have already shared ideas for improvements. Some want an improved customer serviced department (or a direct line). But more common is the desire for the company to keep the old forums — or at least offer something similar to the message boards, so the experience would be basically the same, except with new moderation.
"Please do not get rid of the Forums. This is not a replacement. The forums (with exception of the trolls on it) brought about informed discussion to help fellow owners with issues," posted one user.
On the old Tesla forums, the clock is ticking down to their grim future, and users are sharing their takes on the company's sudden decision in a thread.
The bizarre logic of a direct feedback loop
"Welcome to the end of the line. You have exactly 13 more days to post threads and comments," read the first post in response to Tesla's action.
"This engagement site looks very limited, can't envision it being an adequate replacement," wrote another user. "Where are y'all going to visit? Feels like a couple of years ago when my golf club shuttered up. Scrambling to find a new home."
While the idea of a company forming a direct feedback loop with customers as "die-hard" as Tesla's may feel bizarre to some, this could help its CEO exercise more control over feedback — allowing users who post more agreeable content to amass the largest followings, and galvanize the work of moderation across different social media platforms. In other words, it's not another Twitter, but it does have likes and shares.
This was a breaking story and was regularly updated as new information became available.