Green Gifts

Client: BC Hydro

BC Hydro, one of Canada’s largest utilities, wanted to extend their Power Smart energy conservation brand into the world of social networks. To do that, we conceived and built Green Gifts: a Facebook application – the first ever built by a British Columbia Crown corporation or government agency – that allows users to send free virtual “gifts” to their friends. Each gift (actually a conservation-themed icon) includes a simple, practical tip for reducing energy consumption.

How we helped

  • We conducted a series of initial conversations to gauge BC Hydro’s culture, communications needs and regulatory restrictions, and developed several options for consideration. Green Gifts emerged as the most elegant, simple onramp to social networking.
  • We created wireframes, diagrammed workflow and developed technical specifications for the project. We also investigated Facebook’s data flow to ensure user data usage met BC Hydro’s stringent requirements for privacy and security.
  • In conjunction with a developer and designers in Vancouver and Seattle, we built and tested the application – and our team rose to the challenge when Facebook unexpectedly changed their platform. Later, we oversaw a second round of feature development and a design overhaul.
  • We developed and executed an engagement plan that included several contests and promotions, ongoing blogger and Facebook outreach and an online advertising campaign.Green Gifts screenshot


With thousands of installations and many more gifts sent, Green Gifts helped BC Hydro reach its audience using an entirely new channel, and positioned the Crown corporation for further social media leadership.


When you’re using a platform like Facebook, you need to plan for the shifting terrain of any changes they might throw at you. But that said, for organizations that are new to social media - especially those used to operating under regulatory or other constraints - it can make a lot of sense to walk before you run. And one way to do that, rather than building a platform and expecting users to come to us, is to go to where your users are already participating – on a platform where participation and engagement features are already built for you.

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