I’m here at the what might be the biggest gathering of social media minds, Austin’s annual South by Southwest Interactive conference.
With over 15,000 interactive registrants this year, many brands, big and small, are looking for innovative ways to grab the attention of SXSWI attendees who, by nature, suffer from shrinking attention spans. We’re checking into FourSquare with our mobile devices while tweeting from our iPads and taking videos with our flip cams.
Marketers can no longer rely on paper handouts, simple postcards or signage to get their message across to this new breed of conference goer. Instead, they are embracing a marketing tactic that hits both traditional and new channels – QR codes.
Created in 1994 in Japan, a QR (Quick Response) code is a two-dimensional barcode that can be read by barcode readers and camera phones. With the incredibly high adoption rates of smart phones today, most platforms offer a QR-code reader application that can easily scan QR codes with a couple clicks.
So what happens once you scan a QR code? The number of options keeps growing and is only limited by a marketer’s imagination. Perhaps you want a conference attendee to visit your corporate Website – follow your brand on Twitter – enter a sweepstakes – download your new mobile app. All of these calls-to-action are possible through the use of QR codes.
Brands at SXSW are taking advantage of the mobile-toting masses and are enticing us to scan a code for a chance to win a shiny new iPad2 or download the newest app. I’d much rather take a second to scan a code while I’m standing at a company’s booth than take a postcard with a printed URL, remember to look it up once I get back to my computer and then miss an opportunity to ask questions and follow up with the company’s staff. How you share these codes with your target audience is up to you. At SXSW, I’ve seen QR codes displayed on postcards, flyers, t-shirts, signage, monitors, backpacks, business cards, buttons, stickers - you name it!
In a few weeks, we'll be at our biggest user conference of the year, SAS Global Forum 2011 in Las Vegas. Without revealing too much just yet, we have some plans to use QR codes at the event, and I look forward to seeing how our attendees respond. After seeing such an explosion of QR codes at SXSW, marketers can't afford to ignore the mobile channel when reaching their audiences.