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Scott Monty, the Head of Social Media at Ford Motor Company must be very happy with how the company embraced the Social Business Strategy he and his digital team introduced. Along with Coca-Cola, Ford are blazing a trail for others to follow, in the online marketing space. Ford have launched a new Reality TV programme which is being broadcast on NBC TV, they have moved from car maker to original content producer, to Reality TV programme producers, why?

This is another progression in the Social Business Model.

We are currently living in the Digital Age, we are still only exploring the surface of where Social can take us. Never in the history of mankind have we had such access to publication, instant self-publication.


  • Clay Shirky said in a Ted talk some years ago the digital age creates the “largest increase in expressive capability in human history”.
  • Mankind has made some dramatic leaps in expressive capability in the past, the Printing Press being the first, Radio, TV and blogging on the world wide web. Social platforms change this expressive capability totally as the expression on Social is not just one way, it’s multi-directional.
  • In human history multi-directional expressive capability has only being able to take place when a number of people gathered physically in one place. Now all you have to do is log-on to Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Multi-Directional Expressive Capability

This Multi-Directional Expression Capability (MDEC) is spooking business and traditional marketers, they feel they have no control over the conversations direction after they put their message out onto to the web.

It is this very MDEC feature that gives Social it’s power. Originally the marketing message direction was one way, what is referred to as broadcasting, ie. a TV adverts tells you about a companies product/service, ie. a one way conversation. Now, thanks to Social Platforms the messages are:

  1. Business 2 Consumer(B2C),
  2. Consumer 2 Business(C2B)
  3. and now most worryingly for companies, Consumer 2 Consumer about Business(C2CaB).

They feel they can not control the C2CaB aspect of the conversation. In the C2CaB aspect of the conversation, consumers can and will discuss/review your product/service, in an honest open discussion.

MDEC is what Coca-Cola, Ford and Burberry have figured out and they realise that MDEC is intrinsic to the Social Business Model. In my post, “Expressions not Impressions” I explain how Coca-Cola measure these expressions to gauge the success of their online campaigns.

Related: Starbucks: An Inspired Use Of Modern Technology

Why Fords move into Reality TV is the next step in MDEC development.

Ford have being using Social successfully for a while now.

  • Their first serious campaign was their Fiesta Movement in 2009, where they gave 100 new Fiestas to people who had an online community.
  • They allowed participants to drive the cars and comment on social platforms, discuss the merits or de-merits of the Fiesta with-out trying to control the conversation.
  • They did however gather all the feedback (Coca-Cola refer to this type of data as the new fertile soil), both to refine the Fiesta but also used it for the future design of new models and developing strategies for online engagement with consumers.

This led to the creation of last years Focus Rally America Campaign which revolved around six teams of two taking part in a rally in Ford Focus cars competing to win $100,000. Monty brought in co-creators, The Amazing Race team and this was broadcast by Hulu.com as a 5 part reality TV show. The parings had to complete various challenges along the way. The rally started on 1st Feb 2011, consumers could take part via Facebook and help their chosen teams complete their given tasks. The tasks always revolved around the new technology fitted as standard in the new Focus model.

Related: The Multi-Device Digital Omnivore: The Online Future In Focus

Escape Routes

On Saturday 2nd April 2012 Ford launched it’s new reality TV programme on NBC called “Escape Routes. Complete with a bunch of really good looking “Millennials” and Ford products. What are Millennials? They are good looking members the Y generation.

  • The show is generating impressive figures on Twitter, 16 million impressions for the first episode.
  • The filming takes place weekly to make sure that the social engagement is current, this is vital for the  show. The participating Millennials are in the studio, watching the show live as it goes out on air, this is carried on escaperoutes.com website.
  • So our multi-device digital omnivore can view the show on TV, engage on twitter via mobile technology and observe the contestants reaction on the web, while the show is airing.

Add to this the rich data the command post that Ford will have set up to harvest it and you have Multi-Directional Expressive Capability in operation. Mind blowing really.

Related: Five Potential Digital Futures

Social Business and MDEC

As I stated earlier MDEC is the magic gold dust that makes Social Business work. The collaboration, internal and external between people in a MDEC conversation is what allows the consumer to build the TRUST which is necessary for the consumer to become an advocate and eventually an evangelist.

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