QR codes were big in 2010. And with the number of smartphone users continuing to grow, there’s every reason to believe they will be even bigger in 2011.
A QR code looks a lot like a barcode. Users scan the code using their smartphone camera, and it in turn redirects them to a web page or a video (YouTube videos work great). QR codes are a great tool for connecting print readers with your mobile content – whether you are trying to grow awareness of your mobile site or trying to show off great mobile content.
With that in mind, I brainstormed 39 ways that newspapers (or other media companies) could use QR codes to drive engagement and readership. (Make your own QR codes here.)
- Ask a “question of the day” in print (a lot of sports sections do this already), and let readers see the answer by scanning the QR code.
- Link to the correct answers to today’s crossword puzzle.
- Link to expanded box scores in your sports agate.
- Does your newspaper do a weekly video program? Run a QR code that links to the video.
- Trying to cutback on newsprint cost? Run shorter stories and link to longer versions of your stories.
- Allow readers to enter a contest.
- Simply run a QR code in print that links to your mobile home page. That crazy-looking QR code will get their attention
- Add QR codes to your staffers’ business cards.
- Put a QR code on your website rotating into an ad position. It’s gotta be better than most of the filler ads you’re running already.
- Print out a giant QR code and place it in a window or on your building where the public can see.
- Put one on the side of a bus. Or on an ad inside a bus (or subway).
- Next time you’re printing t-shirts for a company event, add a QR code.
- Put them on your newspaper racks – on street corners and in stores.
- Have a local coffee shop put them on their coffee cups 0 or place one on their counter.
- Put them on all of your marketing material – posters, pamphlets, etc.
- Run a poll in print, and let users scan in the QR code that goes with their answer. Example: Ask who will win the Super Bowl, and offer a QR code for each team.
- Put QR codes in advertisements.
- Run a QR code that links to movie times.
- Newspapers have ads all over local sports arenas, use a QR code there to link to your coverage of that team.
- Create a scavenger hunt in the paper using QR codes – with new segments every day (to encourage daily readership).
- Create a scavenger hunt in your town using QR codes placed at your advertisers locations all around town.
- Ask readers to scan in code to review the same restaurant your critic reviewed…
- Or to see the menu…
- Or go to a page that shows recent reviews near you (using location-based services).
- Link to a how-to video with a cooking story.
- Use QR codes with listings in your real estate section to see more photos of a house.
- Put QR codes at historic/important places around town. Link them to articles where your local experts give info on each place.
- Have a QR code that users can scan in to send breaking news to the newsroom.
- Do you have a booth at the state fair or other events? Give out QR code temporary tattoos.
- Do your reporters or editors give presentations to the public? Put a QR code on one of your slides.
- Put one next to your garage sales listings to see a map of sales.
- Run one with a photo that links to a full photo gallery online.
- People want weather news on their mobile. Link one to your mobile weather page.
- Link to election results on your mobile site.
- Allow readers to sign up for breaking news text alerts.
- Get local cell phone stores to put up a QR code in-store. Potential phone-buyers can test them out while testing out phones.
- Do some guerrilla marketing and put them on bulletin boards around town.
- Put one with a story so readers can easily share the story with friends.
- Do you have a story that will drive a lot of discussion online? Use a QR code to link to where that discussion takes place.
How else have you seen QR codes used? Please share your ideas in the comments area.