Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Every so often I pull my head out of the social media world and take a look at what’s actually happening out there IRL. I did just that recently, researching holiday campaigns that were taking place in the real world but being powered by social media. As it turns out, there are not only some really cool campaigns out there, many include a charitable element, making it so much cooler.

For those of you who have either been living under a rock or like to stick your head in the sand around the holidays, I’ve put together a list of some great social-powered holiday campaigns from 2011/2012 for your reading pleasure.

The Christmas Spirit Tree

Here in Toronto last year Canadian Tire and TribalDDB launched an innovative “Christmas Spirit Tree” campaign in the heart of downtown at Toronto’s Union Station.

A 30-foot tree was wrapped in 3,100 lights that reacted to social/digital conversation buzz around the Christmas holidays. Posts that included words like Santa, holiday, merry, gift, time and year contributed to the holiday light show.

What was really awesome about it is that the colour and brightness of the lights were directly related to online activity:

  • When the lights flashed white, social networks like Twitter and Facebook were alive with Christmas chatter.
  • Green lights meant Christmas was being mentioned in the news.
  • Red lights showed onlookers that blogs and forums were abuzz.
  • Blue flashing strobe lights were reacting to people posting massages on the Christmas Spirit Tree microsite or sending a text to the specified number.
  • The brightness of the lights represented the total number of messages per minute being shared, so when online sharing was at its highest the tree shone its brightest.

The Communitree

In November of this year there was a great campaign called The Communitree supporting the Philadelphia Toys for Tots charity.  Scented ornament company Scentsicles teamed up with the online Christmas Tree retailer Balsam Hill to create a robotic arm that was controlled remotely via a microsite to digitally decorate a real Christmas tree.

Each ornament added to the tree equated to a $5 donation to the charity and users were encouraged to share their activities on Facebook with each like on their posts adding an additional $0.25 to the cause.

The whole thing took place on livestream and they hired two fun hosts to interact and engage with the visitors both online and through a phone they had on set where people could call in their holiday song requests or to ask questions talk to the hosts. They were also able to tweet them at @TheCommunitree.

At campaign end, they raised a total of $21,330 for the Philadelphia Toys for Tots and there were 2,159 ornaments hung on The Communitree. It looks like their top participant in the leaderboard received 172 likes (x $.25) on his/her post.

Zynga’s Oh, What Fun

Zynga recently launched their holiday “Oh, What Fun” campaign, which turns virtual goods into real-world donations. From now until Dec 31, Zynga is offering players the option to purchase an in-game good that will benefit Toys for Tots this holiday season. Items start at as little as $1, making it a bit of a no-brainer for gamers who want to give back but don’t know where to start.

If you’re a Zynga gamer who plays CityVille, CastleVille, Words With Friends, FrontierVille, Bubble Safari, Draw Something or Farmville, you have the option to purchase a good and make a donation today.

I love seeing brands use social platforms to not only generate awareness about their products or services, but also to spread goodwill and cheer during the holidays.  Have you seen any other really great real world social-powered campaigns?

 

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