I had written earlier about combining two distribution platforms together: email and WhatsApp. Email can provide the mass distribution, while WhatsApp takes care of the last mile outreach. Emails to superspreaders will work even better. They can then amplify it across their own networks – via their own email distribution lists or through WhatsApp groups. A WhatsApp-only system will not work for the pipe: there are limits on the number of members in a single group and hence hierarchies need to be made, which also means that the hops for messages increase. Also, WhatsApp is controlled by a corporate entity, which can change rules as per what it (or a government) wants. Hence, the need to combine WhatsApp with another distribution channel – email with its ability to send rich media wins over SMS.
So, to build a resilient pipe, here are the steps:
- Create a website where anyone interested can opt-in with their email address
- A small team can curate content and send out emails to the list
- Recipients on the list can then distribute locally to their WhatsApp groups
- Track all activity and incentivise actions via atomic rewards: this will allow superspreaders to rise to the top
- Encourage the WhatsApp recipients to also sign-up directly via email to eliminate one hop
- The goal over time should be to grow the direct email broadcast list as much as possible
- Incentives can be provided for referrers who help with email sign-ups
- Recipients of the messages can be encouraged to do their own local meetups – and thus recruit email recipients
- Over time, the most powerful asset will become the email list
- One of the incentives for superspreaders could be that they can, should they wish, become political entrepreneurs and contest primaries
Email has been the communications channel of choice for marketers for many years. It has had little or no use in Indian politics, which has largely depended on mass media and huge rallies. In the past couple national elections, social media’s role has increased – primarily, Facebook and WhatsApp. Both are controlled by the same entity, and any corporate entity can be pressured into blocking specific channels or users. That is where email shines. It is independent of Big Tech with no single person or entity in control.
One point to note is that any dependency on a single point of failure in such a system must be avoided. Therefore, it has to be a system without a single entity controlling it – which is where email works best. There is no intermediary between the sender and the recipient; unlike SMS (Big Telco) and WhatsApp (Big Tech). And any place where a corporate entity is involved, Big Government has the controls!