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President Danilo Medina greets supporters

We Built The App That Helped Reelect the President of the Dominican Republic by a Landslide

Thomas Peters
May 22, 2016 · 5 min read

Danilo Medina won the 2012 Dominican Republic Presidential election with 51.21% of the vote — too close for comfort. Four years later he can boast some notable progress: the DR has been the fastest growing economy in Latin America and the Caribbean for the past two years.

An economist by training, Medina has offered his country technological development (“Republica Digital”) as a path out of poverty.

So when it came time for his reelection campaign this year, he led by example and made digital a core part of their strategy, offering his supporters our new invention: a mobile-native social network, messaging platform and organizing tool in the form of an iOS/Android app called uCampaign.

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And it paid off.

Over the course of the five-month campaign, supporters using the official Danilo 2016 app produced over 362,000 individual actions — almost 50 per supporter.

And Medina won by a landslide.

Here’s how.

Claudia Chez-Abreu, CEO of AdVentures digital agency in the Dominican Republic reached out to us last October about the possibility of building an app for the Danilo Medina reelection effort based on the technology we had built and were running for Ted Cruz for President. We had not yet helped deliver Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa caucus, but Claudia saw the potential of the app to drive engagement and be an example of republica digital in action.

We jumped on the opportunity, knowing that it would come with some unique challenges.

First, all 551 words and phrases in the app had to be translated into Dominican Spanish, which gave us the opportunity to create a template for future translations of the app into other languages (we’re now building a variant of the app for a British English client).

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The Danilo 2016 app icon

Second, their campaign website was built in NationBuilder, and they wanted the app as integrated as possible with their Nation CRM. By the time we launched the app, we supported universal login and a 2-way API that copied all supporter information between the app and website — including the precious estrellas (“stars”) which served as the app’s social capital marker. App supporters received estrellas for every action they did to advance the campaign.

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One supporter’s progress

The AdVentures team quickly stoked excitement for earning estrellas by reserving prime seating at the campaign kick-off for the top 50 supporters on the app. Then they taped a video of the app supporters enjoying themselves and posted it on Facebook so other supporters could see it and be envious:

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Screenshot of the official Danilo Medina Facebook page

Talk about effective cross-promotion!

The AdVentures team was top notch throughout the campaign. After a couple of training sessions via Skype, they ran the app themselves using our web-based admin panel. We went through several rounds of testing and iterations of the app before launching and then rolled out several new features during the campaign, such as enhanced push notifications and personalized invitation codes.

The AdVentures team fully utilized uCampaign’s ability to support multiple simultaneous actions for supporters to do — generally offering 7–9 at a time, from a list of almost 40 different actions, such as inviting friends to download the app, watching and sharing videos, sending in photos of themselves and selfies with the candidate (“mi selfie con Danilo!”), RSVP’ing and checking-in at events, sharing to Twitter and Facebook, learning how to vote, pledging to vote, getting GPS directions to their nearby polling locations, and broadcasting their vote on election day, to name a few.

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A graph of activity on the app during the campaign — this excludes data from any of the 40 custom actions!

Throughout the campaign the AdVentures team actively promoted the app:

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“The future of this country in your hands.”

They also used and promoted the estrellas rewards across all social networks:

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“How many stars do you have?”

They used push notifications to draw their supporters back into the app regularly and keep them engaged. Over the course of the five-month campaign, supporters responded 75,554 times to push notification alerts.

By election day, the app had been downloaded 13,845 times, with the platform of choice being Android (78%) over iPhone (22%).

When it came to demographics, 41% of supporters were under 30 years old. 42% were between 30–44 years of age. 17% were over 45 years old. The app supporter base was heavily male (71%) to female (29%).

65% chose to share their phone address book contacts so we could match them to their friends on the app. 99.54% of supporters opted-in to receive push notifications.

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President Danilo Medina addresses the party convention

4,306 supporters logged into the app on May 15th to announce their vote for Danilo Medina and almost 10,000 actions were taken during the 24 hour period before the polls closed.

By election day, supporters on the app had earned a combined 3,031,185 estrellas by performing over 362,000 individual actions.

President Medina earned over 62% of the vote, demolishing the 50% threshold he needed to avoid a run-off, and is now set to serve four more years in office.

The AdVentures team plans to rebrand the Danilo 2016 app to keep citizens engaged with various initiatives in line with what would be expected from republica digital.

And we’re on the lookout for the next opportunity to help deliver victory by putting the right tool in activists’ hands.

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And check out our website.

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