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Ford’s Social Business Model, Seeks Multi-Directional Expressive Capability!

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 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 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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Image: “Social Network concept/Shutterstock

Co-Founder at the Ahain Group. The first blogger to name the MDEC Model. A social business enthusiast and looking to learn something new every day. Which is not difficult to find online. Keen golfer and Munster Rugby supporter.

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  • warrenrutherford

    John – spot on.  I was thinking of the feedback loop on MDEC as a data source for consumer perspective as you wrote of it. What impresses me is how the companies you note are moving with the flow, and modifying as they go in order to fit changing consumer interest – all while engaging consumers in future product development and brand allegiance.  I’ll send this post along to my son who is working for, the millennials will benefit from your insight.  Thanks.

  • A number of years ago Ford did a study and found out that the Ford brand didn’t have any real values associated With it, 
    Ford set about changing the brand values by communicating more efficiently with their target market, the process they started then has held them in good stead especially with the emergence of the online communities where Facebook alone has over 900 million accounts worldwide.What Ford has done in shown the belief they have in their own products, by putting themselves on the line to be critiqued by the general public they are sending a clear message to their public.

    “We have so much faith in our cars that we are going to let your friends tell you about them”

    A brilliant strategy for any business operating in today’s market place.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    The various ways that companies are connecting with and trusting their customers to spread the word is mind-boggling. I’ve been watching Ford for some time now and marveling how they’ve engaged with their customer. They are an iconic brand and yet they keep finding ways to stay fresh and aware of what their customers want.

  • John Twohig

    Hi Elli and thanks for the comment.

    I agree with you on what Ford have done. The risk taking is incredible, they deserve the results.

  • John Twohig

    HI Brendan and thanks for the comment.

    It is social business in action and they are trusting their community to help them promote Fords products. A brilliant strategy, very inventive and full of potential pitfalls. Leveraging social platforms is breaking new territory for many companies. Ford have cracked the code.

  • John Twohig

    Hi Lewis and thanks for the comment.

    Broadcasting on social is counter-productive, it alienates the online community. Multi-Directional Expressions Capability(MDEC) is what the knowledgeable companies are seeking, Ford are achieving this in spades.  

  • John Twohig

    Hey Warren, thanks for the share, I hope you son and his millennial friends enjoy the post.

    You are right, it is amazing that these companies have cracked the MDEC code and other large companies do not see what social business is or it’s potential.

  • John,
    I love Ford’s strategy, I was unaware of the new TV show. I was a bit put off by the title of this post though when I saw it floating by on twitter – it sounded head-wreckingly complicated to me 🙂 I am pleased that I read your post now, well written, insighful and interesting as always!
    ~ Helen

  • John Twohig

    I suppose I am trying to high-light how MDEC relates to the successful companies who have engaged totally on social. The title was a bit convoluted due to that. I am glad you took the time to read the post despite this and that you enjoyed it’s contents.

  • Moving with the flow… Warren and John, and interesting concept, as I am baffled as to exactly what the “flow” is. It never ceases to amaze me, which comes first – the provision or the need/want.
    Sometimes we supply what the customer wants, others we launch and they take it in with open arms (or reject it vehemently) A very interesting debate at some point 🙂
    Having re-read Warrens comment, perhaps the answer is in the “engaging consumers in future product development” this sounds like a collaboration, which is healthy 🙂

  • Similar to Helen below, the title frightened me a bit, but your post is very well written.
    It made me think of B2C and C2B. It seems to me both can work. I always imagine a company like Apple producing beautiful products and the masses amassing to buy them (very much B2C). I call this refine and launch. On the other side, Microsoft for example, launch a mediocre product and rely on consumer feedback for improvement. I call this launch and refine.
    Both seem to work in the space they are in, and I appreciate now with the onslaught of consumer social, companies (like Ford have) need to get involved in the conversation, as it will take place with or with out them.
    Most impressive for me is the power the consumer can have, and it is so right that we get to talk openly and honestly about what we spend our money on (including customer service). Where many companies are afraid of social, Ford have proved that you can control the conversation to some degree, and keep your consumer on side.
    Great post John, thanks!

  • Torihawthorne

    Most excellent post John.. I read it last night, and just again there… It excites me greatly… In my sales training, back in the dinosaur age 😉  I was made hyper aware that customers talk to other customers about business/service, C2CaB.. And that was way before Twitter, FB Google+ and so on..
    As I read this last night another Tweeter was Tweeting the fact his broadband provider wasn’t on Twitter. To see the success of the companies that have engaged highlights the lack of foresight of those who have not.

    My Post of the Year John 😉

  • John Twohig

    Yeah, the title knocked a few people back. The general re-action to the post is positive, which is great. Like Tori’s story above I do not believe that social has not re-invented the wheel. What it has done is re-invented conversations which use to take place over the wall with your neighbour, now that conversation is on a global scale. These are what Coca-Cola is referring to as expressions. He-ho who am I to argue.

    Social Business makes the customer central, not a lot companies know this or like it.

    Thanks for the comment Elaine.

  • John Twohig

    Thanks again for your kind words Tori.

    They will fall inline over time, it’s our job to educate them.

  • John Twohig

    Moving with the flow, is not a term I would use but I understand where Warren is coming from. The “flow” being the online digital/social explosion in recent years, I think!

    Steve Jobs said it’s not the customers job to know what they want, it’s ours. Innovative companies operate to this model, the cloners do not. The level of collaboration in the Ford example, Coke and Burberry is ground breaking. Other companies have a model to study and build their strategy and tailor it to their available resources.

  • Susan: I have a long way to go with delegating things and implementing automatic stuff. Have you heard about the app service called IFTTT (if this, then that)?

  • Yes, delegation is so hard. I am a *bit* of control freak, so I find it very hard passing off duties to someone else. I love automation! I finally invested in a CRM about a month ago and wish I would have done that years ago. Makes following up and staying in touch so simple.

  • Thanks for another great post Lionel. I can add another job to that list – Accountant. I’m an accountant and work from home for half the week as everything I do is cloud based now. Obviously I’m also blogging plus being the editor for this site – all online. It’s the way to go nowadays I believe. Looking forward to your next post

  • Definitely, Blogging and online writing is on boom as online job/part time job. I started my career as a blogger. At starting, I had to face little bit problem to find online job and blogging project but now I am enjoying a full time office job and part time online job.

  • lionel luigi lopez

    Hi Kristina, that’s really great to hear. I hope I can read about how you handle having a full time job and a part time online job as well.

  • lionel luigi lopez

    Thank you Sian. Wow, I didn’t know about that, well going online I think is more convenient nowadays. Thanks again, will be posting another one soon. 🙂

  • lionel luigi lopez

    Hi Niall, I hope you liked it. Doing more than one is really possible, you just have to put a lot of time management there. 🙂

  • Lionel, I have a full time job from 9:30 to 6:30. I took 2 hours break and then start work again at home from 8:30 to 12 PM. If you enjoy your work then it is easy to manage and work some extra hours daily.

  • What do you think will become the top online job in the future? I am a blogger, online writer, and a future customer support person. I look forward to hire a virtual assistant that could do transcription work in the future. I want to provide the transcript feature including in my podcasting someday in the future, when I can see that I can afford it and get some kind of support from my listeners, fellow bloggers and sponsors.

  • You need your prompts subscribe to your blog. This is one of the best instruments to associate with potential buyers, particularly in case you’re making fantastic articles.

  • Velly Angelova

    Thanks, Niall! Selecting the right typeface is a key step forward the professional look of a business website. If given the efforts and attention needed, the outcome would be purely rewarding!

  • Thanks for these insights Velly. I have to admit that I am reading from websites regularly and never think that some of the hard to read ones may be due to the font. I know I hate seeing all capitals as that is very hard to read. Looking forward to your next post.

  • Velly Angelova

    Thank you for your opinion, Sian. Glad you have enjoyed the article. I beleive it will remind us all to be more thoughtful when choosing fonts for our business showcase.

  • Kelly Kristen

    Thanks for a great article, Velly! I’m considering a recent revamp for my professional website and fonts will be now one of the fundamental things to reconsider.

  • Guest

    Thank, Kelly! I’m happy you found the article helpful. Good luck with your website revamp and I’m sure that taking the time to pick up an appropriate font will be rewarding!

  • Velly Angelova

    Thanks, Kelly! I’m happy you found the article helpful. Good luck with your website revamp and I’m sure that taking the time to pick up an appropriate font will be rewarding!

  • Cash flow is a very important financial concept to understand. The hard thing is to get paid in advance and get a long credit time to pay your vendors! 😉

  • Patty Weaver

    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing some helpful tips to follow!

  • Velly Angelova

    Thanks for stopping by, Patty!

  • thanks for sharing your technological tips.this article are more effective on the business communication.your tips are very important on the business.really your presentation nicely.thanks for share with us.

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