Does social marketing have to seem sincere to be successful? 

 Yesterday at Beyonce’s concert in Antwerp, a Belgian advertising agency introduced the Pepsi Like Machine

. The concept is simple. Provided you are in the vicinity of the machine, you just have to like Pepsi’s Facebook page and you get a free can of soda.

Kinda clever? Sure. New? Nah. Domain registrar Domain.com did it with this adorably homemade, Twitter-powered candy machine at South By Southwest.

Social media is a relatively new concept, and marketers (especially ones who are used to doing the old media thing) are still trying to figure out how to really make it work for them. Both of these companies are exploring a relatively cheap way to engage, but the problem is often with their audience’s perception. Domain.com is a small internet company that (we assume!) had to figure out a cheap way to avoid getting lost in the muck of South By Southwest. And while one could argue that candy has nothing to do with domain names, next time the average SXSW attendee needs to start a website their mind might just drift back to that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

But Pepsi used their very expensive Beyonce endorsement as a launch paid for what in this instance looks like a ploy (especially to cynics) to exchange their product for Facebook ‘Likes.’ When you can afford Super Bowl ads - any attempt at the DIY aesthetic is going to be perceived as trying too hard.

Then again - won’t the average person be simply stoked to get a free Pepsi for a tiny ‘like’? And then you got a bunch of people walking around with your branded cans, taking some sips and who knows, maybe deciding to convert from Coke to Pepsi.

The question still remains: how do you find apps when there are simply so many out there?  We’ve blogged about this before, but more and more solutions seem to keep popping up.

Today, two stories in particular caught our attention.  The first is from Social Times, which claims that Discovr Apps is “one of those apps that you could sit down with and spend time, perhaps too much time, discovering apps that interest you.”  As the picture shows above (taken from the Social Times article), the app works by selecting an app you enjoy, and then creating a kind of web, connecting you with other apps that are similar to the one you already enjoy.

The second story comes from TUAW, who claims that Starbucks will give out free apps in the U.S., using the same format to when they give away free music downloads.  This is clever and could be very effective, as the deal would pique the consumer’s interest in the app itself.  App developers would be smart to look into this, seeing as people are just as addicted to Starbucks as they are to their smartphones.

In an interesting marketing scheme that mixes together aspects of foursquare and Groupon, Jonathan Stark is allowing anyone to access his Starbucks card.  All you need is a smartphone! If there is money on the card, anyone with the picture can scan the card at any Starbucks to pay for their drink.  Stark then encourages the buyer to share their experience, and then add some money to the card for fellow users.  
This could be a fantastic viral campaign for Starbucks — as long as they don’t shut it down, as TechCrunch suggests.

In an interesting marketing scheme that mixes together aspects of foursquare and Groupon, Jonathan Stark is allowing anyone to access his Starbucks card.  All you need is a smartphone! If there is money on the card, anyone with the picture can scan the card at any Starbucks to pay for their drink.  Stark then encourages the buyer to share their experience, and then add some money to the card for fellow users.  

This could be a fantastic viral campaign for Starbucks — as long as they don’t shut it down, as TechCrunch suggests.