You’ve probably heard of QR codes. If not, I’m sure you must have seen them. A QR code looks something like this:
QR code means quick response code. It was created in Japan in 1994 and has made its way to North America in the last year or so. It’s a 2-dimensional code that delivers information to you high speed, similar to how retail bar codes deliver product, price and stocking information as soon as the cashier scans it.
In fact, you can think of it like a consumer bar code—you scan it with your smart phone, and it takes you to a website, starts a phone call or delivers a vcard. A retailer in my town uses it in their flyer on the vitamin page. You scan it and it opens your phone’s browser and gives you specific information about the vitamin’s benefits, properties and usage.
Here’s a good article with some different ideas on how these could be used. My favorite from the article includes t-shirts when you’re participating in a local event. You could even imprint one on a water bottle you giveaway at your fun center. If you send post cards as direct mail pieces, you could have a fun picture on the front, and a QR code on the back that takes readers to a relevant page on your website about what’s happening at your facility.
Here’s an example of a fun use from a different article also found on http://www.FastCompany.com:
Click on a cupcake to read the full article.
I’ve typically seen these codes used in print materials—retail product flyers, movie ads in newspapers and on a poster mounted on a delivery truck in the city—but I just tried scanning the one above right from my monitor, and that works too!
How do you make a code?
It’s actually amazingly simple, as I found a site and made the code at the beginning of this article in less than 30 seconds.
- Go to http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ (where I went) or find another free QR code generator.
- Choose the kind of content you want your code to deliver.
- Choose the size you want your code to appear as (probably the larger the easier it will be for scanners to scan—I chose large for the above code.)
- Click “Generate” and then copy the resulting URL and use on a website page (copy it in your HTML code) or take a screen capture and save it to your desktop to use in your page layout.
How do you “read” the code?
This is easy and free also!
- On your smart phone, access your app store and search for a QR code reader. I’ve had the most luck with i-nigma.
- After the app installs, select it, hold it over the code and tap the “scan code” button.
- Within seconds, the results should load.
Pretty fun! This technology is likely more readily used in bigger cities, but I’ve seen it here and there in my town (80,000 people) so maybe it’s making its way to smaller communities. If you find that many of your guests are on Facebook, tweet from their phones and generally find it important that you offer wi-fi, this could be another fun way to engage with that group.
Have fun, and let me know where my code above takes you!
Nala Henkel is a social media partner to FEC Network Inc., and editor of the IAAO Blog.