DATE: JANUARY 2015
CATEGORY: CULTURE, SOCIAL MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY,

CASE STUDY: @OXMAS_TREE


Colleen Morrison



The Situation

Oxford wanted to do something big for the holidays, something that was not only fun and celebratory, but would also demonstrate our capabilities. Martin Slamon, Senior Interactive Project Manager, led the initiative, coming up with the plan, budget and purpose for what would become “@OXmas_Tree” – a holiday display that responded to special hashtags tweeted at the @OXmas_Tree account on Twitter. If all went according to plan, Slamon saw the tree as a great way to empower philanthropic organizations to adopt the idea and use it for gamified, socially-engaged awareness and fundraising opportunities.

How We Made It Brilliant

• Not wanting to have a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree seen around the world, we procured a 9’ tree and covered it with 1,000 LED lights. • To make the tree come alive, we gave it a brain— an Arduino, an Internet-connected microcontroller with eight ports to control our various lights and features. Each port corresponded with a hashtag; for example, someone could turn on the red lights by tweeting #comfort, or start the train by tweeting #choochoo. • Combining the talents of our Interactive and Social Media teams, a Twitter account was set up and the festive hashtags were assigned. To guide Tweeters on which hashtags controlled which function, our Design team created instruction cards as well as branded ornaments. • On the PR side, our Communications Strategist, Sean O’Grady, crafted a press release detailing the creation and purpose of the tree, as well as Twitter instructions. • Knowing that seeing is believing, we set up a live web camera to stream the @OXmas_Tree in real-time during business hours. Users saw almost instantly when their tweets affected the tree.

The Results

• On Sunday, December 21, we had 26 followers on the @OXmas_Tree account. By end-of-day Monday, we had 115, a 342.31% increase. Over the next four days, we grew by another 132% to end with 267 followers.

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• Between December 18 and December 24, the OXmas_Tree account received 1,032 mentions with Monday and Tuesday being the most active days. The Social goal for this account was to interact and start conversations with people who would tweet, whether they controlled the tree or just asked what the project was about. 63% of the tweets sent out were conversation based, meaning we replied back or tweeted to users who tweeted the tree.


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• A crucial element to the success of the @OXmas_Tree was the Associated Press picking up our press release and blasting it to media across the Internet, reaching not only U.S.A. Today and local news stations, but to the U.K., China and more. Once the story was picked up, we saw a rise in followers and tweets from people eager to try it out – some users spending literal hours watching, tweeting and commenting on how cool it was to control it from Michigan, Canada and beyond. Having a worldwide presence brought a level of engagement we had not expected, showing the power of an innovative idea executed at exactly the right time.

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