You’ve seen ‘em, they look like the unattractive love-child of a bar code and a bit-mapped maze—QR Codes. The QR is “quick response” as in a something you use your smart phone to do quickly (I don’t know, doesn’t really make sense to me either, I didn’t come up with the name).
Hoots and I were sitting in a little coffee shop in Seattle a weekend or two ago and I was reading the posters in the window. You know the ones advertising bake sales and dog walkers and indie band and walkathons. About half of them had QR codes. I entertained myself by popping the codes to see how they were being used. Most took me to a website, usually not mobile-optimized but the iPhone managed it OK. One gave me their event information ready for loading into my calendar (nice). Another allowed me to “like” their FB page (I didn’t). Another prepped me to tell all my friends about the event (tempted but didn’t). Really a nice range of uses for a coffee shop window.
One thing to consider is that not many organizations are using them in the nonprofit space.
Oneicity is gently steering our clients into experimenting with QR codes. You can find as many detractors as proponents. At this point, we like ‘em.
Here’s the kind of things you can do with QR Codes:
- Show a special mobile webpage;
- Take people to your FB page (or just about any other social media page you want people to see);
- Link to a blog post that they should see;
- Give calendar info for an event;
- Share contact information;
- Really, there’s a long list of uses.
So why should you slip one of these funky little squares into your next newsletter or new donor brochure? I mean, really there aren’t that many people using them. It’s kind of a hassle…
I have 3 reasons based on what I’m reading and my gut-instinct about ‘em. All of these are centered in what I believe about who might use their smart phone to grab your QR code.
The people who are using QR codes are:
Nope, don’t have a lot of research to back up my conclusions. But I think I’m right. And here’s the worst thing that can happen. No one uses their smart phone on your QR code. But your donors see it in your newsletter and think: “Hey, that’s pretty cool. They’re on top of all this high-tech stuff.”
I had the opportunity to speak to a business group recently. Used a QR code as my closing slide. Easily half of the room hopped up and started scanning. It was fun. So I think I’m making a QR code as part of my PowerPoint deck.
Oh and QR codes can be very trackable depending on how you deploy them. If anyone does hit it, you’ll know it and know something about them.
And unlike what many do, give people who aren’t techno-savvy an explanation of what the code’s for. Something like: “Use your smartphone to like us on Facebook” (or whatever you’re doing).
Oh and one more thing, don’t go QR code wild. One QR per piece is enough. You don’t want to overwhelm people or cause them to dismiss your message if they’re not QR Code equipped.
And just to show, we’re playing, too, scan that code below! Come on, and play. The QR code will lead you to what I think is a cool and easy use for an NPO. And yes, it is a little weird to use a QR code on a blog, but we’re pretty much digital around here. It’ll work off your screen.
What do you think about QR codes—flash in the pan or a decent tool? Are you using them? Does your smart phone have a QR code reader? What’s the most interesting/effective use of a QR code you’ve seen? I love hearing what you’re thinking.
(photo credits: Steve Thomas)