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Despite the Risks, Ford's new Explorer Rolls Out..On Facebook Alone

Ford Motor is debuting its all-new Ford Explorer on Facebook - instead of at an auto show.

Next week, Ford will a pre-campaign with teasers saying the SUV will be revealed "soon" on Facebook, according to USA Today. No specific date has been announced - just that it will be in July.

Ford is no stranger to social media. Set to go on sale next summer, its 2011 Ford Fiesta has already made its mark with an innovative campaign that began last year called the Fiesta Movement. One hundred "agents" from more than 4,000 applicants were selected to test-drive the Fiesta for six months and post their impressions on blogs and social network sites.

It was a success: that October, a Ford-commissioned survey found that approximately 37% of Generation-Yers were familiar with Fiesta, even though it still hasn't launched in the US and had previously been unknown among American consumers. More recently the Fiesta was cast as a personality on 'If I Can Dream', - new programming that will be distributed straight to the show's website and broadcast weekly on Hulu. The show follows the lives of five aspiring actors and musicians who move to Hollywood in search of stardom. There will be an interactive component to the real time reality show, with the actors and musicians communicating with viewers via blog posts and social networks. The Ford Fiesta is part of the show, with its own blog and social network

Still, debuting the Explorer - a flagship line for Ford - only on Facebook while shunning traditional outlets may be pushing the envelop of what is acceptable for the automotive industry. "The auto industry is so closely tied to reviews and news from traditional media outlets that I think it is a risky move to eliminate an auto show announcement," says Heidi Sullivan, vice president of media research for Cision. But, then again "the buzz created could far outweigh any negative reactions." (via USA Today).

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