QR Codes (Quick Response) is a bar code that can be scanned by your mobile phone (with a free app) and are currently being used with print media (or t-shirt media) to point people to more information online. The information embedded can be a URL, a link to a download, text, phone number, or SMS.
According this post by Gina Trapani, many geeks think QR codes are gimmicky, clumsy, not used well or enough, or that they’re “a solution looking for a problem. That’s no surprise given there are many free QR code creators online, and it is easy to make create one without a real purpose. I made the one above and if you scan it, it is the URL to my blog.
There are a couple of useful business applications such as airplane boarding passes. Also, they’re being used in books. For example, Jay Baer’s and Amber Nashlund’s new book, The Now Revolution, uses Microsoft’s version of QR codes called Tag technology, so readers can scan pages and get additional bonus materials on their phones.
Gina’s post suggests that QR codes could be just a fad–unless Facebook introduces them to a mainstream audience.
Leaked screenshots indicate Facebook’s experimenting with profile or status QR code generation on fan pages, according to TechCrunch. Imagine a QR code that instantly makes the person scanning it a fan of a brand, company, or personality on Facebook without ever typing a URL.
NTEN has published a useful quick “What’s This? piece and there a number of “Scanning for Good” posts on nonprofit technology blogs that offer tips and use cases. Nonprofit Tech2.0 blog offers a laundry list of possible ways to use this new technology.
Chad Norman shares a post of some interesting nonprofit examples, including one from the South Carolina Aquarium that created the Be Rare Contest, which used QR codes as the focus of a city-wide scavenger hunt. Joe Waters shares an example used for Cause Marketing. QR codes are popping up in school lesson plans, like this arts lesson plan.
QR codes hold potential for arts organizations. Museums have been using them to enhance the visitor experience and have been early adopters of the technology.
While preparing for the “Leveraging Social Media Masterclass”, I reviewed social media presences of over 260 arts organizations looking for interesting “living case studies.” I discovered how the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is using QR codes to encourage audiences to download program books onto their mobile phones.
As SFGMC continues to “go green,” we have for the first time made our concert program available on line pre-show. With over 2,100 of you coming on Thursday (!), this will save on printing costs and reduce waste. Scan the QR code below to download the program to your mobile device, or visit http://www.sfgmc.org/media/SFGMC_Words_program.pdf to view it on line. Of course, standard print programs will still be available at Davies on Thursday.
The announcement prompted some discussion in the comments about the use of electronics during concerts. While the norm has been to “turn off” all electronic devices, the Gay Men’s Chorus encourages the use of electronics during their “Social Media Moments” throughout the concert. They want audience members to post mini reviews at intermission or photos during the concert.
While there are some tactical points to keep in mind when using QR codes, nonprofits should consider these design principles:
- Can you use QR codes to encourage audiences to get more information online?
- Can you embed game design or make it fun?
- Does the use of QR codes help save your organization printing costs?
Of course, a bigger question is about strategy – how the use of this tactic enhances a campaign and whether or not your target audience has a QR reader on their mobile phone and uses it.
What are some of the best examples of QR codes for nonprofits?