Monday, October 10, 2011

Pushing QR codes into creative, widespread use: 7 examples

Like nearly any other new development in social media, QR codes have been doubted, scoffed at, kicked around, rejected and declared as dead. But the newfangled version of the barcode persists--and is pushing forward into more creative and widespread use as more companies and organizations experiment with it.

The easiest way to grasp QR codes' utility? They replace the URL for your website (or a portion of it), making it simple for mobile-phone users to point, scan and go to your site without thumb-typing. QR codes save your customers time and work, take up little space, and now that you can change the target without changing the code, they're much more useful over time. They're more compact than a URL and more visual, making it possible to incorporate them in a wider range of places.

Still, I'm finding (as usual) that the best way to help my clients think of ways to adopt QR codes is to share good examples of their use. Here are seven strong examples to help you imagine new ways to put QR codes to use in your communications:
  1. Up on the roof:
  2. An Austin, Texas, firm will put a QR code on the roof of your building, making it an aerial view advertising option. It's a clever way to let users of Google Earth and Google Maps get more information on your business, a useful way to expand what's available to the localized searcher.
  3. Shopping codes: Retailer JC Penney has rolled out QR codes to help shoppers check out its new collection, with the codes appearing in newspaper and magazine ads. Scanning the QR codes takes shoppers right to the latest fashion line, online, with options to opt-in for coupons and discounts. And now they're on Home Shopping Network, too. These will be cases to watch, as they have the potential to bring QR codes to vast audiences.
  4. Moving out of the annual report: Like many private foundations, the Ford Foundation still produces a printed annual report--but this year, incorporated QR codes to bring readers to more interactive features describing its programs and accomplishments online.
  5. Networking made easy: shares these creative ideas for incorporating QR codes into your business card, with case studies from a wide range of QR code uses. I like the idea of making the code fill one entire side of your card--check out the pictures.
  6. Presentation backup (or future?):  Clever use of QR codes, leading to your slides uploaded on SlideShare, can allow you to share slides with smartphone users in the audience, even if you don't have a projector.
  7. Voting with your codes? The 2012 presidential elections will likely be a hotbed of creative political uses for QR codes, from field organizing to campaign donations.
  8. QR codes, wikily: Wikipedia has launched QRpedia, a QR code-creator that lets you turn any Wikipedia URL into a handy QR code.  This was started by a museum, but now is available to all--a tool you should try out for your Wikipedia listings. ReadWriteWeb notes "Its adoption may be limited by the bravery required to point people to the collective consciousness, publicly editable discussion online about yourself or your organization."
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