“Teams giving gifts in exchange for 140 characters through Twitter Vending Machines” by Devin Beahm, Sporting News

At more and more sports venues across the country, all that stands between fans and free team swag is 140 characters and the send button.

Over the past year, sports teams and organizations have taken the technology space by storm by trotting out Twitter Vending Machines to not only engage fans, but to allow for more avenues of sponsor integration.

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Twitter Vending Machines showcase all types of social promotions, and were seen at a variety of events and venues before making appearances at sporting events.

In 2013, the World Wildlife Fund, placed a Twitter Vending Machine created by Telus in a Vancouver mall and rewarded consumers with toy pandas. Telus also donated $1 to WWF for every panda dispensed. In 2014, Old Navy dispatched two Twitter Vending Machines in California and New York to dispense flip-flops, driving over 3,500 tweets and 12 million impressions.

Twitter machines have gotten more tech savvy since then, and sports teams have taken notice.

Take for example, the Twitter Vending Machine used for the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour. That machine was stocked with an assortment of premium items including autographed pin flags, premium experiences, meet and greets with a PGA Tour players, lapel pins, and cell phone wallets.

Questions like “Who is your favorite PGA TOUR player in the FedExCup playoffs?” were used to prompt fans who would then tweet from their phone and use #FedExCup and #Gift123 to win prizes.

“We are continually exploring new ways to bring our fans closer to the game and provide them outlets for them to passionately follow their favorite players,Ty Votaw, the PGA’s Chief Marketing Officer told Sporting News. The Twitter Vending Machine is an innovative way to engage our fans through social media at the four FedExCup Playoff tournaments and reward them for offering their thoughts and predictions for the Playoffs. We’re eager to see what the response will be.”

But teams weren’t just using these machines during the regular season. The Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins used the machines as a preseason and postseason initiatives.

In December 2014, the Red Sox planted their Twitter Vending Machines around the Boston area during the holiday season to promote their upcoming ticket sale window.

In April, the Penguins used their Twitter Vending Machine to give out prizes like sunglasses, earbuds, autographed merchandise, playoff tickets and a stick used by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to grab fans’ attention during the playoffs.

Most sports teams use Twitter Vending Machines that are rented from or created with Ohio-based company Innovating Vending Solutions (IVS). This company offers a variety of options when it comes to customizing each teams unique machines.

NFL and MLB teams have been the most recent to join the Twitter Vending Machine club.

The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Reds took their social promotion one step further when it came to their vending machines with the integration of sponsorships.

The Reds debuted their Twitter Vending Machine this past March during the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. Prizes included tickets to the T-Mobile Sponsored All-Star FanFest, as well as product promotions from tokidoki, which has had a partnership with Major League Baseball Properties since 2014.

Similarly, the Broncos unveiled a Bud Light Twitter Vending Machine in September. Although it did not dispense beer as its prize, the tweets were sent to Bud Light rather than the Broncos, and many of the prizes, such as the Broncos skis signed by Jake Plummer, were co-branded by Bud Light.

So whoever your favorite team or player may be, there is a chance that you will be able to tweet to win no matter what game or tournament you’re attending.

These social-fueled vending machines are a pricey venture with some estimates at $30-40,000 just to get the machine on site.

But the interactions created is a big payoff in social currency, which is as good as money to teams and corporations. Twitter Vending Machines are able to spark conversation and ultimately offer the team, organization, or brand a very large added value in exchange for a gift. It’s a win-win for fans and teams.