QR Codes Do’s and Don’ts

Yikes. Do NOT do this. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/MattsLens)

We were having an interesting discussion at The Rebecca Gordon Group this week about QR codes and it got us to thinking, what are the best ways to use them and what are the worst?

Let’s start with the worst…

1. DON’T put QR codes on billboards
First, it’s dangerous, taking your phone out and trying to capture a QR code on a billboard at 70 miles per hour is a very bad idea.  Arrive Alive, a motto we believe in.  Secondly, putting a QR code on a billboard takes up valuable real estate for what you want people to see which is your message. Even the QR code in the billboard above on the side of a building would be difficult to scan for most users.

2. DON’T put them on your website
This one’s simple — they have already found you, why would you want to send people somewhere else?

3. DON’T put them in places phones can’t go
Don’t put them at the bottom of a pool, in the shower at the gym or in a location where there is not decent cell phone reception.  QR codes were developed to be utilized via your smartphone.  Don’t put them in places where smart phones don’t work.

4. DON’T use QR codes without explanation
A QR without any hint as to where that might lead a user, is typically bad practice. It’s like clicking on a shady link online. With more harmful computer viruses popping up every day, users are more wary than ever about clicking on unidentified links. Now if you can find a way to make the QR code so intriguing or mysterious that users will just have to scan it, more power to you. Just don’t lead them anywhere shady.

Now some cool ways to use QR codes…

1.  DO put them on products where people are waiting in line.
Hanging out at the DMV, in a long line at the gas station, waiting for the bus, people are bored.  Help them out and give them something interesting to look at. Plus, it takes a few seconds to pull up the QR code reader app and scan the code. People are much more likely to scan your QR code if it is positioned in a place where they are going to be standing for more than a few seconds.

2. DO make your holiday cards more interactive
Put a QR code in your holiday cards to direct your friends and family to your online holiday message, picture or video.

3. DO give the gift of music
Looking for a really cool way to use a QR code?  Create a playlist on spotify, create a QR code that directs people back to your playlist!  Voila!

Want to make your own QR code? Check out some sites like:
http://www.qrstuff.com/
http://goqr.me/

Have any more ideas on how to use QR codes effectively? Or any other bad examples? Share them in the comments below.

Social media icons aren’t enough!

Because I’m a person who actually watches a fair amount of commercials rather than flipping to the next channel like most people, I’ve been noticing a trend lately. At the end of most commercials, a little Facebook icon and often times a Twitter icon will appear, letting viewers know that you connect with the company on those social media platforms. Take this commercial for Special K:

Notice the Facebook and Twitter icons in the lower left corner. Special K’s website is given, but no specifics are offered as to how to find them on Facebook or Twitter. Typing facebook.com/SpecialK leads you nowhere, and Twitter.com/SpecialK is owned by someone named Karen Adkins who has yet to tweet. Turns out, Special K uses “SpecialKUS” for both Twitter and Facebook.

This wouldn’t be an issue if the social media icons were being displayed on Special K’s website, as those could be easily linked to the correct accounts. But, since we live in a world where most televisions or print media aren’t interactive yet, a social media icon alone does you no good in these mediums.

Luckily for larger brands such as Special K, users can search for Special K on either Facebook or Twitter and they appear as the first result. But many smaller companies aren’t so lucky.

Let’s look at an example of how another company is tackling this problem. Progressive has received a lot of praise and recognition for it’s advertising campaigns featuring Flo. In a recent commercial, they feature a “Shazam” icon in the bottom left corner. Shazam is an app that is typically used to identify a song. Progressive has used it in a different capacity. By “shazaming” the Progressive commercial, the following screen appears:

That’s a lot more helpful than just displaying an icon as it gets the viewer involved. From this page you can click on links to Progressive’s social media as well as website and app. That’s pretty innovative. Some companies are using QR codes, allowing viewers to simply take a picture of the code, which then sends them to a predetermined page.

QR codes, social media icons and Shazam, are just a few of the tools companies can use to gain followers, “Likes” or website views. But if not used properly, they are just a waste of space. For example, if Progressive would’ve waited until midway through the 30 second commercial to display the Shazam icon, viewers wouldn’t have had nearly enough time to get out their mobile device and open the app. To the same extent, I’ve seen QR codes on billboards along the interstate.  Unless there’s a traffic jam, who has time to (safely) try to scan that code?

So what can your company do to better utilize these tools? Here’s a few tips to start:

1. MAKE IT EASIER TO FIND YOU

Register a custom username for your Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/username. For example, ours is http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaGordonGroup. That’s much easier to say than “Check us out at facebook.com/6786232347827321839.” That’s a lot of numbers to memorize.

Try searching for your Facebook page or Twitter account. If your company isn’t the first result, then you MUST include the full URL for your social media in all printed materials. If you chose the same URL/username for all of your social media accounts (helpful), then you could insert all of the social media icons in one row, followed by “.com/yourusername”

2. LET PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO FIND YOU

If you are going to display social media icons around your business on on your marketing materials, make sure they encourage the customer to interact. A foursquare sticker on your front door reminds visitors to check-in. But a Facebook sticker? Not so much. Have you ever tried to search for a Facebook page on your phone? It’s not always easy. Let them know the easiest way to find you. If you offer social media specials or giveaways, advertise that! The best thing you can do is to mention it to the customer when they leave, “Did you know you can find us on Facebook?”

3. ONCE THEY FIND YOU, YOU’RE IT!

Just like hide and go seek, once the customer finds you, it’s now your responsibility to interact with them (in this case, there are tag backs). It’s not enough to simply drive people to your Facebook page if once they get there you have nothing to offer them. Be sure to update your social media accounts on a regular basis. Give shout outs to new followers. Post photos. Interact with other pages. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes they’re just hiding…

Sound like a lot to handle? Let the Rebecca Gordon Group help you out! We specialize in social media management. Find out more here.