Strong Museum of PlayI was excited to see the announcement via Facebook and Twitter today that Strong Museum of Play and Wegmans have teamed up to offer a vending machine of healthy options inside the museum. It was always disappointing to me that a great source of local pride in Rochester offered only Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Subway within the food court. Sure – there is the Bill Grays location near the carousel – but the food court was lacking a local presence.

It’s also a great example of an organization using social media effectively. Many companies initial question about social media is how to justify the return on their investment. They want to track specific business to using social media – much in the way they would track a traditional marketing campaign. The benefits to social media can’t always be measured in the same way a traditional marketing campaign can, because it’s a different type of marketing.

The museum used it’s Facebook page to poll it’s 11,000+ fans on what changes they’d like to see at the museum. One of the most common responses was around fresher, healthier options in the food court. They then engaged Wegmans and the result was a vending machine of fresh, healthy options from Wegmans. Prices seem reasonable – $4 for a salad, $.75 – $1.25 for fruit, and $1.25 for a yogurt.

What’s the direct benefit to their savvy use of social media here? Sure – they can measure their profit from the machine. They can even potentially measure things like the trends in new visitors, return visitors, memberships and the like. The bottom line though is they’re a great example of using social media’s core strength – engaging and delighting your customers in a way that was previously difficult or impossible.