“Social media-activated vending machine draws crowd in Rudder Plaza” by Lauren McCaskill, The Battalion

The Texas A&M vending machine gives free A&M gear such as 12th Man towels, A&M baseball caps and A&M t-shirts. Photo by Lauren McCaskill

A new type of social media promotion has popped up on campus in the form of a vending machine that encourages students to interact with Texas A&M’s social media accounts.

Students can follow the university accounts and post a picture with the hashtag the machine provides and then receive their gift of choice. The machine provided an opportunity to build the university’s social media presence, according to Michael Green from Texas A&M’s merging and interactive media team.

“We’re just trying to promote Texas A&M’s social media and let incoming students know what our university accounts provide,” Green said.

The event was called “Rough, Tough Free Stuff” and offered students the chance to receive free A&M merchandise by logging on to Twitter or Instagram and posting a tweet or picture. The idea for this came from a similar machine used at Twitter’s headquarters, according to director of social media and project leader Krista Smith.

“I used one at Twitter last fall,” Smith said. “I’m a social media nerd and it was a really cool experience for me. I started looking to see if there was an opportunity for this on campus and Howdy Week seemed like the perfect time.”

With so many students free to explore campus during Howdy Week, a lot of students have been able to attend the event.

“I’ve never seen something like this before” said biomedical engineering freshman Alex Britt, “I think it is really effective and I followed A&M on social media because I was waiting in line. I would’ve followed them anyway, but this was a really cool way to get the word out.”

For the 2017-2018 Howdy Week, Twitter and Texas A&M’s merging and interactive media team presented a tweeting vending machine in Rudder Plaza. Photo by Lauren McCaskill

Smith said students have been interested in learning about A&M’s social media and that the team tries to provide a lot of important information while also making posts fun and interactive.

“It’s been fun for us to see people talking about it on Instagram and Twitter,” Smith said. “I also admire our students for standing in line for hours to do it and they get really excited when they get up there and what they wanted is still there.”

Smith said the vending machine is a great way to reach out to returning students and new members of the Aggie family.

“We’ve been here all summer without you guys and it’s great to see everyone back on campus, get to meet our team, and welcome our newest Aggies” Smith said.