This project was conceived to join citizens and candidates to legislator in view of the crucial legislative elections in Argentina in 2017. To achieve an attractive experience for any user, it was designed a platform which simulated a conversation with politicians through WhatsApp -the communication means most widespread among Argentine people. Answers were real and questions had been already made to candidates who privately answered through WhatsApp to a LA NACION journalist. All candidates were made the same questions, and then each user may choose any question to “chat” with his/her candidate. When LA NACION interviewed candidates through WhatsApp, they were specially asked to use all available resources of the communication application: audio, emojis, videos, etc. Users received real answers and a dialogue was thus created with a more relaxed and real side of candidates through their original answers. In fact, one of the purposes of this project was to discard structured regular answers and implement instead resources to focus on a more natural profile of them.This modality of direct and relaxed dialogue enabled the contact with younger audiences, who are more comfortable with these communication-related technologies. Besides, the topics of the questions included a vast universe so as to go through different interests. Questions covered politics, economy and social and personal aspects.For a clearer proposal, user was explained as follows:“LA NACION interviewed candidates through WhatsApp and you may reproduce all the conversations and read real answers from politicians. Except for Cristina Kirchner, who did not accept the invitation, candidates from CABA and Province of Buenos Aires took part on this project.Ready? Let’s begin! Choose one question.”This project was not created for monetization purposes, and it was well accepted within the company as one of the quality and innovation commitments of the year, an example of what it must be strengthened on our editorial offer when we think about subscription strategies or other possible monetization opportunities.
What makes this project innovative?
“WhatsApp with candidates” was drew up as a distinguishing project in view of the elections, plentiful of traditional interviews made by journalists, where user does not feel as part of the interview. The idea of LA NACION was to propose an innovative development that invites reader to take part and move through contents from a different point of view. Instead of reading a conventional article that reports each candidate answer to an identical question,, the user was presented a product which simulated to be a WhatsApp-like application and reproduced the experience of a conversation through chat. Both the editorial proposal and the project design invited to a different interaction.The user interface works like a bot responding in accordance to the question selected by the user.This project had not been previously carried out either on local or international media.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The application was replicated in media in Argentina and was highly considered by the audience, and metrics reflected this fact: if we consider social media visits, it was one of the most read and shared on social media. Its most interesting aspect was its presence on media, it had an average of 15 minutes and 53 seconds, highly above the standard. This reflects the satisfaction of the audience as regards the contents proposed. The answers given by the candidates on different topics gave rise to the publication of separate articles; the application was transformed into a source of new contents which were detached from its main part. An aspect to be taken into account: candidates were willing to participate and many of them expressed satisfaction to answer questions from an original point of view.
Source and methodology
This project presented several stages: first of all, candidates were contacted and asked to answer a regular questionnaire that they answered through WhatsApp. Our referents were the same main protagonists of the elections, since there was a direct contact with candidates. All answers were uploaded on a Google Spreadsheet, which was our database to feed the application. All questions and answers per candidate appear on the Spreadsheet. Information was organized on said structure and the tool -that was then developed- had been previously designed to have an experience that we proposed among the team members who took part.
This project was the result of a team work led by Florencia Fernández Blanco as the General Coordinator and Journalistic Editor. The Multiplatform Visualization Editor, Pablo Loscri, coordinated the app design and programming. The interphase design was made by Alejandra Bliffeld, who created this object with characteristics typical of those of the WhatssApp in order to have an experience as similar as possible to the use of the chat. Gastón de la Llana was the person responsible for programming to give interactivity and logic to the information. Journalist Luciana Coraggio cooperated with data uploading and the general review of the tool. The interactive app displayed the credits given:General CoordinationFlorencia Fernández Blanco (@florfb)Multiplatform Visualization EditorPablo Loscri (@ploscri)Interactive DesignAlejandra Bliffeld (@alebli)ProgrammingGastón de la Llana (@gasgas83)Journalistic ProductionFlorencia Fernández Blanco (@florfb)Audiovisual EditionLuciana Coraggio (@lulicoraggio)”