Pics or it didn’t happen might be a popular meme, but it’s also the mantra of the social networking age. In the 21st century social media updates have become the records of our existence, and sharing is caring. Consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that engage with them on social media. Due to the existence of social media, brands have the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with their followers through the integration of virtual, social, and physical activities in which their fans partake. A way that brands can engage with their followers, and get noticed, is through social media vending machines.
Twitter Vending Machine
An endorsement tweet in exchange for a gift? Sounds pretty good to most consumers, but how exactly does it work? Most social media vending machines are tied to Twitter because its API is the most robust and open of all platforms.
Technically a generic vending machine can be turned into a Twitter vending machine. The guts of the generic machine are removed and the standard keypad is replaced with a small computer like a Rasperry Pi. A monitor is mounted on the side that connects to the computer, an internet connection, and Twitter’s API. As users are tweeting the computer software scans for the specific hashtag desired.
From the users perspective they log in, tweet using the specified hashtag, and then wait for the machine to dispense a gift. It’s a new form of social currency.
How are brands using it?
Old Navy placed Twitter vending machines in locations across Los Angeles and New York as part of its annual $1 flip-flop sale. The vending machines dispensed, you guessed it, flip flops. Users logged into Twitter via a tablet attached to the vending machine and answered questions that populated tweets. Once the tweets were sent, the machine detected the hashtag and dispensed the flip flops. Old Navy even included an additional promotion within the vending machines. They included a golden flip-flop that awarded its recipient a vacation package. The flip flop vending machine proves that the gift doesn’t have to be elaborate for users to want to interact with the machine.
Oreo used their Twitter vending machine to dispense custom edible Oreo’s. At SXSW Oreo invited attendees to use their SXSW related hashtag which then allowed them to create an Oreo from 12 flavors, colors, and creme printing patterns, which totals up to be 4,000 possible cookie combinations. Fans could watch their Oreo be made and then enjoy it with a glass of milk.
Car shows are becoming a hot spot for Twitter vending machines. Chevrolet has used a machine to dispense Mattel collectors-edition blue Camaro die cast. The “Hot Wheels Camaro-matic Trending Machine” asked consumers to tweet what they liked about the car with a specified hashtag and Twitter handle included in the tweet. Toyota has used Twitter vending machines at car shows to dispense Toyota branded merchandise in exchange for tweets with their hashtag.
Hashtag Photo Printer
It’s the upgraded photo booth. Similar to the Twitter vending machine is the hashtag photo printer. But this time the reward is a photo. No more squeezing all your friends into a booth to take a photo together. Hashtag photo printers can monitor various social media platforms but are usually connected to Instagram and Twitter. Take a great group photo, hashtag it, post it, and get your photo printed right away.
If you’re a brand that’s put together a big event you know guests will be taking, and sharing, photos on their social media channels. Incorporating a hashtag photo printer allows guests to print and enjoy their photos while still at the event.
Just like the Twitter vending machine the hashtag printer does need to be connected to the internet where it can monitor your chosen hashtag. When it finds pictures with the hashtag you’ve specified it prints out your own physical copy of the photo.
There are various companies who offer these printers and most offer a wide range of customization, from the frame on the photos to the size of the prints. You can even add your branding to the finished print so users leave with your logo. The hashtag printer also allows you to keep track of all the event photos in one place.
More integration ideas
Grocery shopping in the subway? A grocery store in Korea did just that. Through a realistic virtual supermarket store display commuters could use their smart phone to scan the QR code of any item them wished to buy. The item would be placed in their shopping cart and then delivered to their home within an hour of their scheduled arrival.
Hallmark is using Facebook to access your friend connections. Facebook already keeps track of your friends birthdays for you, this just goes one step further. You’ll get reminders for sending physical cards to friends and options to customize the cards that you send.
Both the Twitter vending machine and the hashtag photo printer increase social media awareness for your brand and increase the online reach of a live event. This new form of social currency that integrates virtual, social, and physical activities is an opportunity for you to deepen the relationship with your customers.