What is this “social tipping point” I speak of? Simply put, it’s when Average Joe Schmoe from Normalsville, Americatown recognizes one of these goofy little squares and immediately knows that he can scan it to get cool stuff. And believe me or not, in the United States, I think it’s slated to happen this summer. Let’s look at some indicators and factors in play:Widely Available Mobile Hardware & Software That’s CapableThese are the prerequisites. Just a few years ago when smartphones represented less than 10% of the market nothing else really mattered. Now the penetration has eclipsed 50%, and with almost all new shipments being smartphones the adoption curve in the coming months is exponential.Despite the general lack of native handset support for QR scanning, a groundswell of downloadable barcode scanning apps has amazingly managed to carry QR into the mainstream. And that’s because YOUR MOM is doing it with apps like ShopSavvy (18M downloads). Maybe more amazing is that adoption numbers have doubled in just the last 3-4 months.Native handset support looms on the horizon. BBM 5.0 actually already has it, but it’s not very obvious. Here’s some big news (technically a rumor I guess) that only I can share because, well, it was privileged information (lol, don’t trust me with secrets). The Android team is incorporating QR scanning directly into the Camera app in an upcoming release. I can’t disclose my source (rhymes with OductAnager for OogleOggles) but you can imagine how this is going to blow the doors off the QR party.Real World Engagement Grows Exponentially + Recall BonusA recent study by MGH spoke volumes about the growing prominence of QR code marketing to the mainstream consumer. Here’s the highlights:Whoa. Two-thirds of smartphone users can remember seeing a QR code. This implies they know what it is.Half the folks that have recently seen a QR code have scanned it. I expect this to grow as the value behind the code continues to get better. (As interesting point of reference, think about how many people have recently clicked a banner ad online.)Wowzers, this is such a HUGE BONUS, and definitely something to take advantage of right now. 72% of smartphone users are likely to recall an ad with a QR code on it. Even if the consumer doesn’t end up scanning it, the QR code helps your marketing stand out from the noise.Not surprisingly, consumers want QR codes to give them something valuable, deliver rich content and connect on social media. Everything we’ve been telling you here at ShareSquare for a while now (smiley face).I also consider it a harbinger of things to come that gigantic retailers like Best Buy and The Home Depot are now extensively using QR codes in both their Out-Of-Home marketing and as a supplement to the in-store shopping experience.While it’s hard to get a sense of just how much more scanning is taking place (because there are so many different apps) we can infer the % growth in overall volume from Scanlife’s quarterly Trend Report and this Mashable infographic courtesy of JumpScan:The 12x increase in scanning activity over 6 months is pretty compelling, especially considering it’s certainly accelerated even more since December 2010.An interesting note from ScanLife’s most recent trend report is that for the first time, among apps that Scanlife is tracking, QR code scans actually outnumbered 1D/UPC scans.One last factor in play that’s so obvious it’s easily overlooked: in most of America it’s finally getting warm enough to spend lots of time milling about outside. Since many QR code engagements are Out-Of-Home, a whole slew of no-longer-bemittened consumers will have more time and opportunity to interact with these campaigns.The TakeawaySo what’s all this mean? In short, QR codes are no longer just for the niche & geeky audience, they’re now an effective tool in the mainstream marketing arsenal of artists, event promoters, agencies, studios, retailers, brands and more.The approaching “social tipping point” is a train pulling into the station, and this summer you have the opportunity to hop on, right on time. Whether you’re a novice band promoter or a seasoned pro agency marketer, you can use the ShareSquare platform as your one-stop-shop for creating, deploying and managing your QR code campaigns. We’ve taken out much of the guesswork by incorporating best practices and immediately optimizing the experience for all mobile devices, so you don’t have to worry about re-inventing the wheel. Give it spin with a free account, you can be up and running in minutes.
Proprietary readers/scanners: Microsoft Tag, ATT….. Cons
Great for creating permanent link to impermanent information – bus schedule, programming information, UPDATE CONTENT!!When coupled with a clearly articulated call-to-action near the QR code, we’ve found the most compelling campaigns tend to offer one or more of the following:Exclusive rich media, videos and photosExclusive or time-sensitive accessFree downloads or swag“Instant Win” contestsSpecial offers, coupons or gifts“Secret” informationDeep integration with social media to activate viral loopsThe best advice is to put yourself in the shoes of your target fan. Would you bother pulling out the phone for your campaign? Would you be happy with the pay off? A little bit of time and thought can create a truly successful QR campaign.Try to avoid redundancy (a digital copy of your flyer), irrelevance or dullness (your company’s street address). Take the above image. The U.S. Marine Corps. QR code promises a cool experience but instead leads to a wallpaper download and a commercial.If you follow the best practice and use a direct QR code, simply instructing your audience to "Scan this QR code..." or "Use any mobile scanning app to scan this QR code..." is sufficient training. (All QR codes generated by ShareSquare always follow this best practice.) You can scale your QR code according to this rule of thumb: half an inch larger for every foot of scanning distance. For example: if you expect that your audience will typically be doing so from 20 feet away from the placement, a good size for your QR code is about 10 inches square. The default ShareSquare QR code output is suited for placements where the fan's mobile device will be less than 5 feet away, use the vector PDF download option if you're scaling larger to avoid pixellation. Learn more here.If you are using a ShareSquare QR code (which is optimized for the widest range), we recommend no smaller than 0.5" square. QR codes generated elsewhere are often too complex to scan successfully when scaled this small, so we recommend a 1" minimum for all non-ShareSquare QR codes. There is no maximum size.Placements, Orientation & MaterialsA QR code will work on any material where there is sufficient contrast (see below). Paper, fabric, painted surfaces, tv screens, the options are nearly endless. The QR code is also scannable in any spatial orientation: sideways, upside down, etc. Here's a list of placement tips as well as things to avoid:DOAlways print and perform test scans with a variety of mobile devices and scanning apps before mass deployment.Leave a whitespace "quiet area" equal to 4 cells around the code. (The best scanning apps, like ShopSavvy, still work without a "quiet area" but some won't be able to scan.)Place in well lit, stationary, areas that should have access to the mobile internet.If displaying on a television or digital screen, show the code for at least 60 seconds to give your fan ample scanning time.Consider the height and angle of someone trying to scan. (Not ideal: QR codes at the very bottom of a bus stop placement.)Put it on everything! Posters, flyers, stickers, tags, clothes, packaging - get creative!AVOIDPlacements where part of the code may be obscured, like by a frame.Glossy or reflective materials; glare may make the code difficult to scan.Surfaces that may have wrinkles or extreme curves, like certain areas on a t-shirt.Areas without mobile internet access (e.g. the subway).Moving targets, like placing a QR code on moving vehicle, or only briefly displaying it on a digital screen.
Library tours, group study room reservations, point to additional information online, programs, author interviews, trailers, read-alikes, scavenger hunts, games, on newsletters & other printed materials, Ask a Librarian promotion, Conference Tags, walking tours of your town, how-to videos for printer & pc reservation system, encourage feedback, human billboards, contests, business cards, posters, temporary tattoos, magazines – recipes, how-to, ads, trade show booths, make TV interactive, wifi settingsOur top 7 applications for QR codesThere many decent blog posts (just Google “QR code examples”) that illustrate a lot of uses of codes and will give you to food for thought, some are not so creative, but sometimes the simple functional campaigns are most effective – think QR codes on business cards, sorry that’s really mundane!Here’s a list of the top applications that I feel have the best combination of practicality, cost and impact:Maps and signage – “point and find” or “you are here” – this can work well at events, theme parks are large complexes – where someone might need specific guidance to get to something, quickly. You can even create forms of engagement for virtual treasure hunts, or “find your nearest”Coupons and special deals - obvious and likely to become the most exploited, allow users to redeem offers in specific locations, ideally with a time limited offer so they act nowIn-store drive to web – when retail experiences can be so bland, imagine bringing content into that space that offers a richer experience (not a hard sell), check out the PUMA case study at the foot of this post for a great example of this oneHow-to advice – Rich advice based content in the form of “How to” video or maybe audio – great for DIY or interior design, even recipes and cooking advice, maybe a bottle of wine at a restaurantAfter sales care – ever struggled to assemble flat packed furniture or wondered where the specific help area is for the product you have, maybe you just want to add to the “new purchase” experience by having a value-add waiting online for that new consumer or use it for activating a guarantee with data captureDirect response mechanic on any advertising (press, TV, outdoor media, direct mail or brochures) – do ensure the landing page appreciates where I’ve come from, that’s a wasted opportunity and can be limiting for the userE-ticketing – with the ease of creating QR codes, you can issue e-tickets easily enough and have that scanned from your phone to enable access
How the Fortune 500 Use 2D CodesCompanies ranging from American Airlines to Sports Illustrated have used 2D codes to promote their products or services. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the best examples:American Airlines placed 2D codes on outdoor boards in major airports to provide an immediate link to information for travelers on the go. Consumers who scanned the codes got real-time flight status, gate information and access to a reservation portal.BestBuy has added QR codes to their in-store fact tags to give consumers the opportunity to review information about their products. Consumers can also save the information to review at home later or to buy the product instantly via smartphone and have it delivered to their homes later.Barnes & Noble uses 2D codes in the back of its brochures to drive people through to the Andriod andiPhone App pages, where they can download the Nook app directly to their phones.Esquire Magazine used 2D codes to give readers more information about fashion items featured in their magazine. Users can scan the code to get more information as well as a link to the designer’s website to place an order.Fox Broadcasting Company used QR codes to promote their TV show called Fringe. People who scanned the code were given a top-secret message that was available only to people who engaged with the show using their smartphones.O, The Oprah Magazine incorporated ScanLife 2D codes into a feature highlighting multiple products. Readers who were interested in getting more information about the products were able to scan the codes and were driven to mobile web pages.Sports Illustrated used a JAGTAG 2D code to allow readers of their annual swimsuit issue to watch bonus videos of some of their models directly on their smartphones.The Weather Channel used a QR code on one of their weather reports to drive people through to a page where they could download The Weather Channel smartphone app.“Hello, My Name Is” Tags: You know those big red and white tags people wear at events with their names on them? If you put a 2D code in place of your name, you’ll engage people and easily be able to strike up conversations.Outdoor Billboards: Be one of the first businesses in your market to run a giant 2D code on a billboard for your business.Websites: Add a 2D code to the “Contact Us” page on your website so that visitors can download your contact information to their smartphones.Business Cards: Add a 2D code to the front or back of your card so that people can instantly download your contact information.Books, Articles and eBooks: I included a 2D code on the back cover of my book that drives people through to a social media glossary. Our intent was to engage people with a social/mobile tool while they were in the bookstore so they’d be more likely to buy the book. So far, it’s worked well.Webinars: Ready to make your webinars more engaging and fun? Simply include a 2D code as part of your presentation. It’s a terrific way to keep the audience engaged and involved.LinkedIn and Facebook Pages: Adding a 2D code to your LinkedIn and Facebook pages is one of the best ways you can position yourself as a forward, innovative thinker.T-Shirts: Ready to promote your product or service in an innovative way? Then add a 2D code to a T-shirt that you give away to customers and prospects.In-Store Posters with Coupons: Want to provide instant coupons to people while they’re shopping? Add a 2D code that drives them through to a special discount that can be scanned at the register.Dial a Phone Number: Want to encourage people to dial your number so they can order your product? Give them a 2D code to scan. If it’s set up properly, it can instantly dial their phone and connect them with your sales center.
What is a QR Code?<br />“Quick Response” Code<br />2D Barcode connects digital and physical world<br />Connect to:<br />Webpages<br />Phone Numbers<br />Contact Cards<br />Videos<br />SMS & Email<br />Maps<br />Use quadripled in 2010 and continues to grow<br />Infographic from: SocialWayne<br />
Popular Readers:<br />BeeTagg<br />Kaywa<br />Scan a Code<br />Not sure – search by phone:<br />mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/<br />Tip: There is absolutely no reason to pay for a reader.<br />Picture CC: Fimb<br />
Create a Code<br />http://goo.gl/<br />http://www.beetagg.com/<br />http://qrcode.littleidiot.be/<br />http://www.daqri.com/<br />https://bitly.com/<br />http://getsharesquare.com/<br />Tip: There is absolutely no reason to pay for a generator<br />CC Photo from Clevercupcakes<br />
Golden Rule<br />“Every campaign is defined by the value that lies beyond the QR code, and if you reward & delight the person that has taken the time to scan your code, you're on the surest path to success.” <br />- Matthias, http://getsharesquare.com<br />
Tips for a Successful QR Campaign:Start with the Right Tools<br />Use a QR Code Generator you can: <br />Test your code with more than one phone<br />Gather Statistics<br />Change content without generating a new code<br />Don’t Use Proprietary QR Codes (e.g. Microsoft Tag)<br />Tip: Use different codes to measure different campaigns to the same destination.<br />
Tips for a Successful QR Campaign: Creating A PLan<br />Have a target audience in mind<br />Have a goal<br />Educate ALL staff on how to read, use codes<br />Have a call to action/purpose or better yet….a REWARD<br />Scale image for the correct distance<br />If Codes are being displayed, make sure there is WiFi&/or cell signal<br />Tip: Make sure the landing page is MOBILE ready! <br />
Mashable’s Most important Tip!<br />From: http://mashable.com/2011/01/28/qr-code-business-tips/<br />
QR Codes in The wild<br />Photos & Ideas from: ACU Library, Half Hallow Hills, Harold B Lee Library, GFU Libraries, SWILSA , <br />
Library Uses for QR Codes<br />Connect Books to readers<br />QR Codes from Books2Barcodes, Gutenberg, TBLC’s OverDrive, OverDrive iPhone App<br />
Creating a QR Code Event<br />Create a scavenger hunt for fun, education or prizes<br />Create a your own badges, game and tie to FourSquare or Facebook<br />Post riddles or trivia with answers displayed as code – or have them enter a contest by scanning and entering answer<br />Riddles & Trivia<br />Win prizes in exchange for collaborating with your colleagues, sharing locations of hidden codes, being in the right place at the right time, and having a bit of luck! <br />