Saturday, September 15, 2012

One way NOT to use a QR code

Hey there,

This one's a quickie.

Just had to share as I've had an ongoing conversation and debate about the usefulness, relevance, and effectiveness of QR codes with a friend (*cough* Ricky *cough*).

If you're not familiar with QR codes, there's a good chance you've still seen them. They're a kind of visual morse code in square form. "QR" stands for "quick response" and you can see an image of it at the Wikipedia page.

The QR code for this blog is:

So that's what one looks like. And if you're familiar with them already, you'll already understand how pointless it was for me to include that as anything but an example. Because the value of QR codes are in their functionality.

But I digress; I'll get to that. How this all started is I was on Facebook this evening, and came across a post from an arts organization's page, asking for donations, and while there were a couple of links, this image was what the text was attached to:

Here's the thing. QR codes are meant to be scanned by mobile devices....

I know, so why would someone post it onto social media??

To be fair, while the first link in the accompanying text went to aNOther link with the QR image, the second one did go to the donation page.

But with tech, less is more, and the less work more people have to do to get to information, the more likely the will follow through on your call to action.

And it's not like this requires deep analysis. Just thinking about it, it's like, do they a) expect me to pull out my phone if I'm looking at this on my laptop, just to go to a link on my phone or b) hope someone is near me with their own phone AND a QR scanner, so they can scan the link on my mobile screen and go to the link on theirs?


Don't get me wrong, I believe QR codes do have their place, and have been used well, like when New York's Central Park utilized them for an Arbor Day event. You can read about it at Drew's Marketing Minute piece from about a year and a half ago.

FYI: If you want to generate your own QR codes, you can do so for free at this site: Kaywa QR Code. Just remember to click on the dimmer, "Generate Free" button.

But I digress. That's my rant. If you're going to use it, I believe it has it's greatest power in print materials, site-specific places, live events, etc. But NOT shared via a platform (social or otherwise) where people are already viewing content online. And you can use QR codes not just to send people to links (which are IDEALLY mobile-optimized), but to call, text or SMS as well.

But don't, don't, DON'T share a QR code via social media, i.e. a platform which people will already be online, in order to send them to an online destination. Just include the link. Obviously this is all my personal opinion.

If you disagree, please share why. If you've used QR codes effectively via any medium, please share how you did it, and how it was successful for you. Any other thoughts or questions, leave those too!

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