Chris Brogan’s recent highlight of PingTag’s QR code integration into LinkedIn is just one more in a series of high profile inclusions of QR codes. Recent online communities are popping up like Social QR Code that features ongoing discussions of how QR codes are being integrated. I have little doubt that this technology is a few breaths away from mainstream use. Holding it back is simply the availability of readers and the knowledge of their simplicity. So what are QR codes and why do they really matter to a business?
QR codes are a two dimensional bar codes that can be read with a mobile device’s camera and the right app. By scanning or taking a picture of the code your mobile devices connects to a URL (website). QR codes can appear in print, on signage or even on screen and be read by your mobile device. Wikipedia has a great summary.
QR codes have been popping up in magazine ads, on the back of business cards and even on public outdoor signage. With the popularity of mobile devices and the growing knowledge of what they are, it is breathing new life into the role print can play. They are appearing on direct mail pieces, brochures and even in-store POP displays. Their role is simple, to help guide consumers in your interest community to more information. Information that should be in a branded environment like your website. Look at how Best Buy or Target handle QR codes. Even in their stores, you can scan the code and be given more product information AND be able to read reviews or other feedback.
Why do these clumsy-looking squares matter? Bottom line: they are links to your website in print. No typing in the URL, no hoping the user remembers to look you up after putting the magazine down, no waiting for the user to get back to a laptop to connect them to your brand. One click to engagement.
That’s were the QR code will really matter to business — fast and more effective engagement. Even in print, which has traditionally been viewed as the least engaging medium, this has the ability to take the conversation up a notch. How can you utilize QR codes? That is limited only by your imagination.
If you’re curious how QR codes might help your business, drop me a line. I’d love the chance to hear your thoughts and perhaps generate some ideas for you!
UPDATE (2/10/11): Social Media Examiner has a great summary article here.