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Share and get a free meal: How businesses got social media smart

By Charlotte Lytton, for CNN
updated 6:21 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
  • Businesses are creating new ways of engaging with customers through social media and interactives
  • Walkers, Birds Eye and Douwe Egberts are some of the big organizations changing their advertising rules
  • Consumers can tweet or Instagram their way to a free snack, coffee or meal

Editor's note: Smart Business explores the ways companies are thinking smart to thrive in our digitized world.

(CNN) -- Social media is revamping the way businesses reach their audiences, transforming boring billboards and cold commercials into a land of interactive wonders.

Here we collect some of the best new examples of companies using advertising to get social with customers, including coffee company Douwe Egbert, which created a yawn-activated drink dispenser in a Johannesburg airport using facial recognition technology, and the frozen food firm Birds Eye, which created a pop-up called The Picture House in three British cities to allow diners to eat for free in exchange for sharing a snap on Instagram.

And on London's busy Oxford Street, people who walk past the bus stops don't realize they're a step away from a free snack at one of the special vending machines there. The dispensers are run by Walkers, which is known as Lays in the US and Chipsy in Egypt.

Anyone who passes the machines can send a message to Walkers on Twitter and out pops a free bag of a new line of potato chips chosen by the public. (Sample flavors: Ranch Racoon and Chip Shop Chicken Curry).

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How companies are thinking smart to thrive in our digitized world.