By Stefanie Wallace
July 11, 2012 – In her new blog, Canadian Vending and Office Coffee Service web editor Stefanie Wallace will look at trends, issues and the latest happenings in the world of vending and office coffee service. This week, she explores the viral power of the Internet, and how it plays a role in determining what’s trendworthy.
July 11, 2012 – One of the great (and, sometimes, not-so-great) things about the Internet is how quickly and easily information can be accessed and shared. For someone like me, who is still relatively new to the vending industry, the Internet has been helpful in researching trends.
The number of hits a website receives helps propel it to the top of the search results. When I search for significant, interesting and relevant news to share with our readers every morning, I can easily tell which stories are making waves in the media thanks to their position in my search results. That’s not to say the top story is always earth shattering – but for some reason, readers click and share the link, and viral videos, photos and stories are born.
Lately, in looking for news relevant to the vending and office coffee service industries, my search results have been flooded with stories about the latest interactive vending machine. This started back in April when Coca-Cola placed a vending machine at the National University of Singapore that trades a hug for a free Coke beverage. The video of this went viral, making news everywhere from social media news feeds to national newspapers. The machine itself had fantastic feedback, too.
“Reactions were amazing . . . at one point we had four to five people hugging the machine at the same time as well as each other! In fact, there was a long line of people looking to give hugs – it was really fantastic and heartwarming,” Leonardo O’Grady, ASEAN IMC director of Coca-Cola, told Mashable.com in an April story.
In June, we shared a few more stories about interactive vending machines that had made headlines in the news. A beer company in Argentina created a vending machine that needs to be tackled – literally – before it dispenses a drink. The machine is called Rugbeer and was developed to target beer-loving rugby fans in northern Argentina (where the sport is more popular than soccer). The machine takes its job seriously, too. A meter on the side measures how strong your tackle is – a weak hit isn’t good enough. In South Africa, a soft drinks company called BOS is using a lower-impact (and considerably less dangerous) machine and social media to promote its product. The machine, called BEV, connects to Twitter. Tweets using a certain hashtag are streamed to the system, and location services are used to determine if the Twitter user is in close proximity to the machine. When a Tweet is recognized to be in the boundaries, a drink is dispensed. And in Toronto, Jell-o launched an interactive vending machine at Yonge-Dundas Square that captures a funny face and dispenses a refrigerated treat, then displays the face on a giant billboard.
The Mashable story about the Coca-Cola machine in Singapore reports it is one of several that Coca-Cola has placed around the world in recent years. And, no doubt, these recent interactive vending machines aren’t the first, or last, to sit in the spotlight. But thanks to the Internet and social media, the stories about these interactive machines are garnering more attention than ever. Your company may not have the budget to develop an interactive vending machine, but you do have options available to promote your latest innovation or special offer to the world. Yes, “free” social media tools (not to mention the Internet itself) can cost you time, but using them to push your business to the top of the search results may pay off by creating a buzz around what you’re doing differently.
And, if you are doing something innovative, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.