Social media has taken over the world! The average internet user spends around 2 hours per day liking Instagram pics, posting tweets or commenting on Youtube clips. This has opened up a whole new world for marketers. 91% of retail brands are now on some form of social media. One of the most exciting new ways to advertise and engage with consumers is through social vending. This involves merging the world of traditional vending machines, with a new type of social currency to vend a treat. The hashtag activated machine will reward your social actions with a unique prize.

Though social vending has been around for quite a few years, it has largely been constrained to desktops and mobile. Society wasn't ready for social vending because it was still in the social media teething phase. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are now a staple part of our daily internet activity and posting, liking or following has become second nature. 

Traditional sampling campaigns are now old news and social vending is here to pave the way for the future of social sampling. A brand ambassador will typically hand out a free sample on the street in the hope of building real world engagement with consumers. Remember that time you drank a chocolate coconut water given to you by a chirpy University student wearing a grass skirt and then completely forgotten what brand it was? With social vending, the consumer trades a social engagement for the free sample. Through this method, they can now not only look back at their online interaction, but their followers will also be exposed to the product.  

Social vending is also a strong contributor to raising brand awareness. By rewarding users with a prize for posting with a specific hashtag, the entire network of that user is then exposed to the campaign. Brands and organisations attempt to own hashtags and spread them throughout the internet for example Nike's #JustDoIt, Coca-Cola's #ShareACoke or the ALS awareness tag #IceBucketChallenge. 

ice bucket challenge

UK based tech company Social Vend is leading the innovation in the industry. Having already been featured their machines at Adtech, Unbound and Mobile World Congress, they are now available for purchase and rental.