In case youre in need of inspiration in these challenging times, log onto www.facebook.com/VendLoveWin, the vending Facebook contest. Since the National Automatic Merchandising Association launched the contest in August, more than 800 consumers have posted their favorite vending machine related pictures and more than 89,000 votes have been cast.The pictures run a wide gamut, everything from antique vending machines, machines dressed in costumes, people staging implausible situations with vending machines, a soda can that appears to be flying over the mountains, wild expressions of people caused by the need for a candy fix, favorite items vended from machines, and more.While the entries are diverse, one commonality is that most of the people visiting the site and having fun with it are young people. This comes as no surprise, since the intent of the contest was to generate excitement among Gen Y consumers.The contest will continue through March of 2012. At that point a $5,000 grand prize winner will be announced.A new dimension to the contest includes weekly product giveaways. Those who post I love vending will qualify to win a free case of Van Holtens Pickle-in-a-Pouch. The next giveaway is Twix, and others will follow.Some vending operators have posted the vend.love.win logo on their own Websites, offering visitors a chance to enter the contest and become eligible for the monthly $200 prize and the grand $5,000 prize.Hopefully, vending operators will realize that younger consumers are more appreciative of vending than older consumers. But operators need to reach young people in new ways, such as communicating with social media.Social media is becoming an important marketing tool for businesses. Todays VendingMarketWatch includes some tips from a social media expert, Brian Solis.One message from the Facebook contest is that vending is a fun business. Vending operators who recognize this will look for ways to spread the fun among their customers. The contest is slated to continue through March, but hopefully, operators will get the message they need to find ways to entertain customers.These are challenging times, but there are many opportunities for those who take the time to learn about new business tools. The Facebook contest will keep you inspired.