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Twitter-Powered Vending Machine


Twitter activating vending machine from Bos Ice Tea

Craving a vending machine goodie but out of cash? – No fear! The social media-powered vending machine is here.

On Thursday, Canadian telecommunications company Telus made headlines after placing a panda stuffed vending machine in a Vancouver mall. For every shopper who tweeted #HomeTweetHome, Telus donated $1 to WWF Canada, the conservation group, while dispensing a stuffed panda.  This whole project was captured on video

Other companies have participated in similar endeavors. In 2012, Pepsi unveiled a machine in the United States that distributed free drinks to fans who “liked” the brand on Facebook. The same year, South African company BOS Ice Tea unveiled the world’s first twitter-activated vending machine at Wembley Square in Cape Town. The machine issued samples of the Rooibos-based beverage to all who tweeted in the vicinity of the machine.

The companies’ creative take on Hashtag interaction reduces the ambiguity associated with measuring the effectiveness of social media campaigns.

Something to ponder:  Do these innovative examples of Hashtag engagement have you thinking outside of the box?

Link: Mashable’s 5 Biggest Social Media Lessons of 2013


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As 2013 comes to a close it’s a perfect time to reflect on the hits and misses of a year nearly passed. Mashable’s “5 Biggest Social Media Lessons of 2013” succinctly categorizes worldwide social media events into intriguing yet practical lessons.

From Oreo’s growth in popularity through advantageous use of the Super Bowl blackout to an Associated Press’ Twitter hack that lead to market-wide panic, this summary of the year’s successes and failures serves as an intriguing and teachable blueprint for the coming year.

The major lessons are:

  • “Social Media Can Move Markets”: Even a simple Twitter account hack can lead to stock market panic. Suddenly, previously separate entities seem interconnected.
  • “Social Media Is Increasingly Visual”: Vine and Instagram Video were introduced, allowing users to create and share short videos with ease.
  • “Social Media Isn’t Just for the Kids”: LinkedIn Influencers became a platform for CEOs to interact with members and more high-ranking global leaders joined Twitter.
  • “Social Media Advertising Is Growing, Evolving”: More revenue and influence comes from Tweets, mobile ads, and sponsored posts.
  • “Social Media Could Be TV’s Best Ally”: Related to the point above, high rates of live-tweets during television programs represent more user-engagement.

As the post focuses on emerging trends, global successes and pitfalls to avoid in the future, we wonder: what will the next year bring? What will be the next social media trend? How will the internet react to world events and how can we take part in the process?

Best Twitter Accounts of 2013

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As the year comes to a close, many websites released their Best Twitter Accounts of 2013. These lists include authors, comedians, musicians. brands, and actors. 

Here are some lists of note:

With the New Year coming up, there is no better time to dive into the world of Twitter.  

As you browse through the feeds, keep in mind the singular voice of these personalities.  Also take notice how they retweet and share links. Keep in mind how some use images, videos, and .gifs to reach their audience and convey their message. These multimedia tools are very powerful if used in the correct way.

Read an interview with Gary Vaynerchuk and learn how to engage “5-minutes-more”

In this week’s technology section, NY Times profiled Gary Vaynerchuk.  Gary Vaynerchuk, of VaynerMedia, is a social media marketer and “self-promoter.”

He frequently uses Twitter to connect with current and prospective clients.  According to the interview, he challenged himself to publish 70 Tweets per day and accomplishes this by combining both response tweets and original musings.  Vaynerchuk also planned to interview 365 people in 365 days and post 3 essays per week on Medium.

These types of activities expose Vaynerchuk’s brand and company to a wide variety of ears.

Click here to view a slideshow that goes along with the profile.  Within these pictures, you can follow Vaynerchuk through his 16-hour day. constantly engaging with employees, clients, and others.

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With the workload of one’s university, research institution, or employer, it may seem impossible to follow Vaynerchuk’s lead.  But there may be a few small things you can do.

For example, try to spend a few minutes doing a little bit more.

Spend a few more minutes engaging with your Twitter followers.  Compose some tweets that mention colleagues.

Spend a few more minutes browsing through Hashtags: Vaynerchuk often uses Hashtags to find his audience so you can do the same.  Search for popular hashtags related to your Tweets and add them in.  Become familiar with how Hashtags are formatted.  This will help in the long run.

Spend a few more minutes talking to others.  Vaynerchuk decided to interview “anyone who asked.” Participate in a 5-minute conversation with someone new. Whether this person is a social media/technology-minded individual, a colleague from another department, or just a familiar person you see during your daily commute, you can always learn something new from those around you.  Every person enters a conversation with a different set of experiences and social constructs.  Talking to these unfamiliar individuals may expose you to a novel idea for self-promotion that you were unaware of.

Link: NYT on Twitter for the Twitter Illiterate

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New York Times has some very informative tech articles for all levels of expertise.

This week, read an article entitled “Twitter Illiterate? Mastering the @BC’s.” Tech writer Hanna Ingber (@HannaIngber) shares some tips to follow when you start a Twitter account.

The article is broken into 7 sections:

  1. Set up an account
  2. Build a community
  3. Learn the language
  4. Understand the symbols
  5. Tweet like a person
  6. Organize your feed
  7. Tell others

It is very easy to understand and Ingber offers explanations and examples along the way.

Be sure to read the full article, linked above.  There are many helpful tips and some links to prominent feeds like  @CoryBooker, the New Jersey Senator and Newark Mayor who is well-known for connecting with constituents via social media.

Using your Twitter bio smartly


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Image via CrunchBase


This week’s New York Times Cultural Studies is quite relevant for authors.

The Twitter bio is a postmodern art form, an opportunity in 160 characters or fewer to cleverly synopsize one’s professional and personal accomplishments, along with a carefully edited non sequitur or two. It lets the famous and the anonymous, athletes and accountants, surreal Dadaists and suburban dads alike demonstrate that they are special snowflakes with Wes Anderson-worthy quirks.

– From Twitter Bios and What They Really Say

The article points out the Twitter bio behaviors of famous people (“The more famous one is, the less the need for straightforwardness,” as the article bluntly states).  One must strike a delicate balance between self-promotion and sincerity.  

Example:See Lady Gaga’s capitalized imperative: “Buy my new single ‘Applause’ and pre-order my album ‘Artpop’ here now!”

Of course, this bio feeds into Lady Gaga’s public persona.  But if you are not the type to aggressively self promote, migrate these types of announcements to your individual Tweets.

Keep it simple.  If you try to say too much, the bio will probably just come out as confusing.  If you use a few key words (example: “author. scholar. father. boating enthusiast” for example) you will get your point across coherently.

Remember, bios can be updated whenever you desire.  So if you would like to a promote something, make sure the information is up to date.  No one likes to see old news from their Twitter friends.

Like the profile picture, the bio is another one of the “small details” of Twitter.  With the right wording, you can make this 160 character bio shine.

Improving your profile picture across social media

Sometimes the smallest details can affect your presence on social media in a positive or negative way. With that in mind, Mashable posted a how-to guide for choosing and profile pictures.

From LinkedIn and Twitter to Facebook and YouTube, profile pictures are a follower’s first point of entry to your online presence.  The photo (or avatar) has to be representative of your persona as well as eye catching enough to draw them in.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep an eye on image-type restrictions.  These vary by site. Some sites may prefer high-resolution file types (like .jpg) while others prefer smaller files (like .tiff or .png).
  • Note any image size/pixel recommendations. Image size guidelines also vary by site.  Some site require different types of images. Facebook, for one, allows you to upload a cover photo and a profile picture.  Good cover photos are wider while good profile pictures tend to be square.
  • Choose images wisely. Note the audience of each social network may vary. For example on your LinkedIn profile, you may want to choose an image where you are wearing a suit or another authoritative outfit. LinkedIn has more of a professional vibe so leave the dog and family photos to your Facebook and Twitter pages.

A profile picture doesn’t have to be an image of yourself. It can be a piece of lab equipment or the cover of your latest publication.  As we always say, it is what you are comfortable with.

For some perceptive, visit TheFacesOfFacebook, an app that gathered all Facebook profile pictures from the beginning on to one page.  The outcome is very interesting.