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What is MDEC (Multi-Directional Expression Capability)? It Is The Rocket Fuel For Successful Online Strategy!

These are a sample of some of the questions that have surfaced during the week as a follow-up to my Ford blog last week. What is MDEC and how can it best be used to enhance an online strategy? This was the most common question, along with could it be leveraged by small to medium business as well as large?

What is MDEC?

To explain MDEC I have to share my Social Business Model.

People (Prospects, Customers, Employees, Management) Online x Intrinsic Motivation + Multi-Directional Expression Capability = (Advocates > Evangelists) = Engaged Social Communities > Social Business

As you can see my Social Business formula, features Multi-Directional Expression Capability (MDEC) as one of its components. People, are a basic need to all business.

  • it is how people take action when intrinsically motivated.
  • it is if they choose to express themselves or not, will dictate the success of your online strategy.

Through-out history, human begins have possessed the ability to express themselves by speech, body language, song, and the written word. Historically this meant we had to physically gather together in groups, large or small, for multi-directional expression to take place. By this I mean more than two people are involved in conversation and people expressing themselves freely and in different ways.

With the advent of Online Social Media Platforms that has all changed. Just logging onto your chosen platform allows you to instantly enter a “Mutli-Directional” conversation or dialog. This allows you to exercise your “Expression Capability”. For a Social Business Strategy to have success it is my opinion that MDEC activity is the magic dust, one of key drivers and measurement of ROI.

When the dynamic content you are sharing with your online community, intrinsically motivates a sustained amount of expression, your online community will engage in a mutli-directional discussion about that dynamic content. They take action and post comments/ tell related stories, upload pictures/video….Coca-Cola now measure “expression rather than impression” as an indication of a campaign success.

Companies like Coca-Cola, Ford and Burberry understand that MDEC is the key to increasing their company’s share of expressions of interest from online communities. MDEC conversations will develop between customers discussing a company’s products/service and the community will call it as they see it, the good and the bad. The trick is to be aware of these expressions and respond to them in a positive and helpful manner. The companies mentioned above all do, so why can’t yours.

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

Can small business benefit too?

Yes, is the simple answer. MDEC conversations take place among online communities, the size of the community is irrelevant, large is great but not necessary. Starting with a small community and expanding it by implementing a social business strategy is desirable. It’s the quality of the dynamic content which will lead to expressions this helps to build the community loyalty; this in turn helps to increase the companies profile and profit.

Can you give examples of how a small business could use the MDEC model to its advantage?

Imagine two restaurants in a small coastal town, this town receives a big explosion in population during the summer months, due to the arrival of holiday makers who own summer houses on the beaches near-by. During the holiday season one restaurant is very busy all summer; the other is only moderately busy, why?

The answer could be that during the off season, the owner of the busy restaurant works hard on content for the restaurants website and Facebook page. During the off season the busy restaurateur continues to generate MDEC engagement with the summer community, by sharing content, recipes and fun competitions to keep the community aware of the restaurant. The owner’s fun and informative dynamic content and gamification effort alone will not sustain the engagement level.

The better the edu-tainment element of your content the more expressions it will receive, the bigger and better the share of the “expressions” among the online community in the off season, this will relate directly to them becoming paying customers in the summer season. Result; ROI and profit.

Related: Five Potential Digital Futures

What level of costs and resources would be required for an MDEC result?

The main cost of any online engagement is, time. The social media platforms are free and the 2.0 website design is now very affordable. Now you can easily set up a listening post to keep track of the online conversations about your business/organisation. TweetDeck is my chosen tool for monitoring mentions, again this is free. For bigger companies there are more sophisticated tools available.

What the owner will also realize on the content side, is that the community will have much more content to share, than the owner will ever be able to post. Coca-Cola has experienced this on a major scale. If the owner manages this cleverly, the inbound content flow will reduce the amount of time spent online creating content. It will also lead to some very clever innovations being created in the business due to the MDEC participation. Taking the example giving above; online communities love to share their knowledge and experiences from other restaurants in other Cities and Countries plus what they are doing in their own kitchen.

One mis-conception that small business labors under, is that the online community has to be big, this is not true, give me quality over quantity every time.

Related: The Holy Grail of Online Engagement (In 15 Steps)

What social media vehicles are best suited for the MDEC model?

In the above example Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and of course blogging, can all by leveraged, but the issue is time and resources. If this is a one person effort then clearly when developing the online strategy, resources have to be considered. With only 24 hours in any given day and a business to run, one person could never hope to cover all these platforms keeping the content, current and interesting

Start with a toe-dipping exercise, also identify where your existing customers are spending their online time. Facebook is an obvious starting point. Run an in-store promotion for your customers to like your FB page. This will give you an online community which relates to your business. These people have being in your business and therefore have an interest. These are not anonymous strangers who “Like” your page; these are after physically visiting your restaurant/shop, what strategy/tactics you use to leverage this community is another question.

Related: Fear Of Embarrassment Or Mistakes, Are Not Business Reasons To Postpone An Online Marketing Strategy

Can MDEC be used for B2B development?

Again the simple answer is yes. If your company is a service supplier then this model can help you to

  • Draw attention to your company
  • Explain the service you supply
  • By sharing dynamic content with your proposed clients you will spark MDEC engagement; this will lead to your online community growing.
  • By sharing, building up a reference library you will create a “lighthouse”, a helpful resource for your community to interact with.
  • Blogging; by targeting the business’s you wish to attract is another excellent method of getting introductions to those customers.

This will mark you out as a progressive, helpful and trusted service supplier. Your online community will share this information through MDEC engagement and help you to grow you client list.

Related: How To Successfully Use Pinterest For B2B

MDEC is the magic dust of online engagement.

Over-all strategies are important, tactics are equally important as is the quality of the dynamic content you develop. If these elements are right then they will draw MDEC engagement, if these elements are incorrect nobody will engage.

Remember all online business engagement should be viewed from the perspective of edu-tainment, as well as educating your community you need to provide some level of entertainment, it keeps them motivated.

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Image: “Many diverse people talking with speech bubbles around the planet Earth/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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  • Nice one John, the reality is that we are now probably approaching a time where all businesses need to be social businesses. For me, this will end up with always end up with a both a positive result for the customer and a customer centric businesses.

  • What a great follow up from the queries and take aways from your last post John. I would add that ultimately the quality of service provided will make or break a reputation, as in your restaurant example, but I agree that working off season in preparation for on season is very relevant and effective for many business types. 

    Using MDEC for B2B development is a great way for companies to interact with clients and potential clients using normal, non-jargon language and reach a wider audience 🙂

  • John Twohig

    Hi Elaine,

    You are right of course, but in the chicken and egg situation, you can’t give service if you don’t have customers. The winter break suited in this case but most business is year round, so the resources are an issue which have to be factored into the strategy.

    The B2B question I thought was interesting and the possibility to utilise MDEC to engage and recruit new business customers. Social Business covers all of these angles if leveraged correctly.

  • John Twohig

    As the CEO of Burberry says, the ROI of Social Business is, if will you have a business model in 5 years. The age demographic is changing on social platforms, more and more over 40’s are participating. It’s time for business to wake up to the market shift.

    Thanks for the comment Niall.

  • warrenrutherford

    Great follow John – some good workable tips.  

  • John Twohig

    Thanks for the comment, Warren.

  • Thanks Sian 🙂

  • Thanks Steven – I will be putting these tips into action when I get home 🙂

  • Thanks @SianPhillips:disqus for your words…

  • Scott Walsh

    Thanks Sian, I will surely update such kind of informative posts with this valuable platform….

  • Great to hear from you Sian. Yes, e-commerce
    is growing big time now, ready to shake the course of the traditional
    internet marketing strategy that we have been following for so long. The
    cultural integration of more advanced technology with our everyday
    lifestyle will be playing a huge role this time for both online stores
    and ‘brick-and-mortar’ retail shops. This is coming real Big and
    everyone online needs to act real fast before being knocked out, because
    digital is becoming fast and furious.

  • Shoppymap

    As much as I hate the word “webrooming”, it is huge and getting bigger. Check out our web app and see what we’re doing about it.

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