ELECTION CAMPAIGN VIA WHATSAPP: THE SUCCESSFUL CASE OF VINCENZO DE LUCA

Introduction.

A recent survey by ComScore (an internet research company able to provide services and data for marketing in various commercial web sectors) conducted in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK revealed that 60% of Italians own a smartphone and that the most popular app is WhatsApp (59.6%) a multi-platform mobile messaging application. The growing popularity of the app combined with the need for instant communication close to the citizens, led the communication group of Vincenzo De Luca to experiment the use of WhatsApp during the election campaign in view of the 2015 regional elections.

The project.

Conceived by Giovanni Sapere in February 2015 and started operating in April 2015 has allowed the candidate governor of the Campania Region Vincenzo De Luca, to establish a daily dialogue with the citizens of Campania who have actively sent critical ideas, reports and contents that have concretely contributed to enrich the program, highlighting the main issues of the campaign. Users have also sent multimedia material of various kinds.

Strategy: management.

The management of incoming messages required the establishment of a dedicated working group formed by: - a sorting node, responsible for receiving, skimming and splitting messages into thematic areas (environment, education, health, safety and social policies, labour, transport, European funds, tourism)*.
- a front node, responsible for the agreed thematic responses (where possible). *The messages received from the various users have been catalogued with specific response, standard response, thanks, requests for appointments and/or information, job/settlement request.

Strategy: creation of broadcast lists.

The WhatsApp workgroup registered the connected users in an address book, used below for the creation of broadcast lists useful for sending messages by the candidate, managed by scheduling.  

Example of scheduling:

DayXX/XX/XXXX
H 9:00 Standard replies to received messages.
H 14:00 Sending press releases and summary of the previous day's activities.
H 21:00 Forwarding invitations for events/appointments/public meetings.

Strategy: pre-election voice note.

On May 30th 2015 (24 hours before the vote), the group sent users a text invitation to vote. In addition, the team sent an audio message recorded by the candidate in order to approach the electorate. The nature of the medium also allowed the creation of "personal" messages to make the user close to the candidate.

Criticalities.

During the months of full activity of the app, the team had to face and manage some critical issues.
Time management.
After receiving the message, the sorting node provided a first rapid response to "take charge" of the message and passed a "definitive and exhaustive response" in an average time span of 48 hours. This management mode has reached a high level of time and was aware of the timeliness dictated by a condition of immediacy of its interaction requests.

In numbers.

A total of 8 people were employed for the management of the app, including 1 tutor, 3 operators and 4 political consultants, 45683 questions answered, 8631 registered users, 20 broadcast messages and 2 audio messages of call to vote (the group interacted in presentia and absentia through dedicated Whatsapp groups, so as to allow continuity in the answers).

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