The Vend.Love.Win Facebook contest is up and running, and vending operators need to take advantage of it. If you havent visited the Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/VendLoveWin yet, youre out of the loop on one of the most helpful promotions the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) has ever launched.The contest was beta tested throughout July and officially launched in August. During the beta test, 20 entries were awarded $200 for a charity of their choice or a $200 Visa gift card . That same monthly award structure will hold throughout the remainder of the contest.Vending operators can encourage their customers and anyone else they happen to know to post a picture or videorelating to avending machine or a vended productand possibly win $200 for the month and the $5,000 grand prize at the end of the 8-month promotion.One of the best reasons for operators to get involved is this contest will make them more familiar with social media in general. Most operators have been slow to take advantage of social media. For Gen Y, its the medium of choice. And if you havent heard, Gen Y thinks vending is cool. Just look at the Vend.Love.Win entries.NAMA is providing design files formachine stickers and postersthat operators can customize, print anduse to promote the contest. Here's a link for the files: http://www.healyandschulte.com/nama/.Operators can promote the contest in a variety of ways.Those operators who are using social media should certainly encourage their followers to visit the Vend.Love.Win Facebook page.One reason the contest is catching on is that word has gotten out in numerous blogs. One photography oriented blog is encouraging readers to enter. This is one of at least 26 blog references already generated.This month, the top posting is a picture of a Good & Plenty pack. As of this writing, this entry has received 1,360 views and 881 votes, the most of any entry to date. The person submitting this entry loves Good & Plenty.I personally found this interesting, not only because it received so many votes, but because I have long wondered why Good & Plenty isnt carried in more vending machines.Which goes to show that social media provides market intelligence.Theres a whole new world out there today for everyone involved in marketing.