Monday, March 28, 2011

QR codes and hashtags come into their own as brand ambassadors

Maybe your branding used to include a toll-free number or a website URL. But evidence is mounting that a hashtag or QR code are today's version of the brand signature, the key that takes a casual viewer or reader directly to your website, call center or discussion. And integrating the codes into mainstream media of all kinds, from print to broadcast, helps engage and retain audiences and boost the use of what you're publicizing.

For starters, 72 percent of smartphone users in this study said they'd be likely to use a QR code to remember an ad, and more than half said they'd already used the codes to secure a coupon, deal or discount, or to get additional information. Companies and nonprofits are offering QR codes to save your place on a restaurant's waitlist and get a call when your table is ready, or to see pictures of Picassos and get a link to buy tickets to a museum exhibit of his work. While they're great for connecting a physical retail space to your online offerings, QR codes can be used in ads, reports, and in personal transactions (think business cards). If you've been packing material onto thumb drives and distributing them, stop. Use a QR code instead."

Thoughtful use of hashtags also can boost engagement and viewers.Comedy Central's recent roast of Donald Trump featured the hashtag #TrumpRoast in the bottom right corner of the screen. The small but consistently used hashtag yielded "35,000 #TrumpRoast Tweets during the 90-minute roast. That’s an average of 6.5 Tweets per second throughout the show," according to this post on the Twitter Media blog. That doesn't include more tweets that omitted the hashtag, but tweets with the #TrumpRoast hashtag made up a larger proportion of the total, due to the on-air reminder. More to the point: It was Comedy Central's highest Tuesday night rating in the channel's history. Here's another case study of how BBC used a hashtag for all of its tweets about the budget debate in the UK, and how it benefited from keeping the tag onscreen. The Donald's hashtag looked like this on screen, lower left. It's subtle but effective, and you can do the same by watermarking your videos, photos and other offerings with a related hashtag:



The Twitter Media blog says that all hashtags are not created equal, and offers these tips for crafting an effective hashtag. Judicious use of hashtags (say, one at a time) also is recommended in this post asking The Economist, please cut it out with the hashtags on Twitter.

Are you using QR codes and hashtags to serve as your signature or "for more information" link? Share your examples with us.

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2 comments:

Bruce Trachtenberg said...

Lot of good suggestions and examples here. I'd just add one more. The Communications Network blog recently featured Rebecca Noricks, communications manager, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, talking (on video) about how she decided to incorporate QR codes that would link readers of its annual report to related videos. As interesting as the idea is, what makes it even more notable is that the inspiration came from reading a design magazine that was using QR codes to engage readers. Check out the blog and video post here.

Kathy Condon said...

Thanks for the tips for using QR. In fact, your article was timed perfectly for I am just finishing the cover for my book "Face-to-Face Networking It's all about Communication." My cover will have my QR on it.