“Social Media Activated Vending Machine Nets You Free Stuff” by Ann Thompson, WVXU Cincinnati

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The concept is 21st century clever. Help companies promote their products via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get free products from special vending machines.

Patrick McDonald thought of this idea years ago and launched Innovative Vending Solutions in 2008. The company is based in West Carrollton. His partner is Jeff Thibodeau.

Companies rent or buy the machines. Telus and the World Wildlife Federation put this one in Canada.

By tweeting certain hashtags the vending machine will dispense items. Another IVS machine is based on Instagram.

Inside the IVS warehouse I tried it out, taking a picture, typing in hashtags and sharing it. After I did that, the machine projected this image.

McDonald and Thibodeau are working on a Facebook “like” machine.

They say most businesses use the social media vending machines for special events, including one before the Grammy Awards, placed by Vanity Fair. Thibodeau says, “They had companies that actually sponsored the machine so you would tweet the specific company hashtag to get that company’s item out….they had a $100 handbag and over $100 cologne…”

According to AdWeek.com a Twitter activated vending machine in New York generated 183,000 impressions and 15,000 engagements.

McDonald is looking for investors to expand.