My mile high canaries

In a previous post I referred to a group of individuals I called my ‘canaries’. To explain, these are a group of individuals that I regularly communicate with on behalf of my clients. As I tend to operate in the B2B space these are individuals I identified through their email activity who tend to forward messages they find relevant and interesting to their colleagues.

I originally thought of this approach while reading Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book the Tipping Point. In his book Gladwell refers to a group of highly influential individuals calls Mavens. Wikipedia describes Mavens as “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information”. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.

After having read about Mavens I was intrigued to see if I could identify and tap into the networks of these individuals – people who are influential in their sphere of influence and who if they ‘endorsed’ a message sent to them, would allow the communication programmes I run to go viral.

I set about doing this by looking at the information I had available to me via the enterprise email tool that I used on a daily basis. A couple of the reports gave me a few ideas. By observing how many times recipients ‘opened’ emails or clicked on links, I could loosely speaking, gauge whether or not the message had been forwarded on to other people. Obviously this approach is subject to a degree of error, but I assumed that if an email had been opened 10, 20 or 50 times in a short period of time or large numbers of the same link clicked on, it was unlikely to be the same person interacting with the email.

When I analysed this group I found that they tended to be senior executives or team leaders (such as Head of Sales), who are attempting to keep their teams up to date – often on a wide range of subjects or topics.

Now that I know who these individuals are, I ensure that they are sent relevant key messages that my clients’ want to get out into the market – hence the name ‘canaries’ – people who would ‘sing’ on their behalf.

If anyone else has any innovative uses of email, please let me know. I would love to hear about them.

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