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How QR codes and social media marketing can work together

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 29 Aug, 2019
Essential Essential topic

Social media users want access to relevant information immediately, which QR codes can help provide

QR codes, short for Quick Response, have really taken off in the last few years, with many social media giants jumping onto the bandwagon as well.

In today’s fast-paced world, social media users want instant gratification. They want access to relevant information immediately. QR codes can make that happen!

The amount of QR codes redeemed is set to grow from 1.3 billion in 2017 to 5.3 billion by 2022. You’re probably used to seeing QR codes all around you: on receipts, restaurant menus, discount coupons, mobile apps and pretty much everywhere you go. It’s no secret that they’ve taken the digital world by storm.

However, what most people fail to realize is how these small symmetrical codes have such a huge impact. They are a simple way of directing you exactly where companies want you to go, seeing what they want and taking actions that are in their best interest.

One such use of QR codes, often not very discernible, is its impact on social media and how it is gradually changing the social media marketing landscape.

How do QR codes work?

A QR code is very similar to a barcode in that they both contain relevant information that is accessed only by scanning them. QR codes are made of small black squares and dots. Each of these shapes represents certain information that is machine-readable.

A QR code reading application coupled with a smartphone’s camera translates the code into understandable information. These applications are available online and compatible with both Android and iOS devices and are usually free of charge.

What you see after scanning the code is not some information in a paragraph or anything of that sort. Instead, you will usually find actionable information.

Actionable information is meaningful data to help you make a decision or perform a relevant action. This type of information can be anything from directing users to a web page to receiving a text message.

Increase in % of QR codes scanned

As we see from the graph above, in the US alone, there is a huge potential for companies to use QR codes for advertising in their print and online media campaigns.

Before moving on to how QR codes and social media tie in together, let’s glance over some advantages of QR codes:

  • User convenience: They are easy-to-use, and only require a one-step process to get things done.
  • Environmentally friendly: QR codes take up less space on printed materials, thereby, they reduce paper waste.
  • Cost-effective: Production of QR codes costs next to nothing and you can use them limitlessly.
  • Easily measurable: Actions completed as a result of QR codes are more easily traceable and measurable as compared to other marketing strategies.
  • Seamless integration: QR codes can be integrated with almost every marketing material possible such as print media, outdoor advertising, and email marketing.

QR Codes and Social Media Marketing

If you’re looking to grow your social media marketing, an effective tool is to use QR codes in your campaigns. It offers several benefits and can be done in a myriad of ways.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways how QR codes and social media marketing go hand in hand:

1. To increase engagement

Marketing is all about engagement - creating content that readers can engage with. Social media marketing is no different.

It’s all about getting your readers to like, share, comment and subscribe to the content so that eventually, they may move to establish meaningful interactions i.e. making a purchase.

Companies use various tactics to increase their social media engagement. The most basic one is to place share and like buttons almost everywhere possible. Even then, it’s difficult to be sure of whether the reader will see the button or not, let alone click it.

But the question remains! How do QR codes fit into all these tactics? The answer is simple - with QR codes, you can ensure that users land exactly where you want them to and take actions that help improve engagement.

Let’s say, your aim is to drive up the number of likes on your Facebook content. You can do that by simply creating a QR code that is linked to a fully functioning ‘like’ button on your Facebook page.

It simplifies the process for the readers. They don’t have to go find your page first and then hit the like button.

By simply scanning the code, they are taken directly where they need to be. It also expedites the entire process, and we all know that time is money.

Using QR codes in a similar manner, you can easily generate greater social media engagement. All you need to do is add a relevant QR code to your printed materials, on your storefronts, even in email messages.

It’s a simple yet effective way of directing traffic to your social media and ensuring that they engage with your content.

2. To create awareness

Back in 2015, Snapchat introduced QR codes under the name of “Snapcodes”. This feature basically lets users scan the codes to view social media profiles of others. Users can also generate their own QR based Snapcodes so others can easily follow them using them.

Many celebrities, social media influencers and brands were quick to use this feature to create and increase awareness about themselves. Michelle Obama, Miley Cyrus, and Kim Kardashian were just some out of the long list of celebrities to do so.

Snapchat QR codes


There was a time when you would find your Snapchat overflowing with stories of users’ Snapcodes, as everyone tried their best to gain social media awareness.

As if that wasn’t enough, Snapchat later expanded the Snapcodes, so that they could be linked to websites as well. This feature was, and to date still is, a creative way for companies to create awareness online.

Using Snapcodes, companies can reach a greater audience. Moreover, as discussed above, simply scanning codes makes it easier and quicker for users to take action. This simplicity and user-friendliness can, in turn, result in lower bounce rates for your company’s website.

If Snapchat isn’t the right medium for you, consider Instagram. Instagram launched a similar QR code scanning feature in 2018, under the name of Nametags. You can add Nametags to your Instagram stories to make it easier for users to follow you.

Or you can add these codes on your printed materials, from store window displays to receipts. This way, you can create awareness about your brand much quicker.

3. For competitive differentiation

QR codes aren’t something widely used by companies for their social media marketing yet. Therefore, if you use QR codes for your marketing, they can help as a way to differentiate your company from others.

If you start to incorporate these codes into your marketing campaigns, you are sure to set yourself apart as a strategic marketing leader.

Take a look at how Verizon carried out its social media marketing campaign using QR codes! This huge telecommunication company used QR codes to direct and engage users with their Facebook page.

How they did that? Verizon had QR codes printed in their stores. In-store users could scan the QR code. This would share a post to the user’s Facebook profile with information about them having entered an online competition.

If the user’s friend clicked on the link in the post and made a purchase, then the original user would win a prize. This competition and incorporation of the QR code not only set Verizon apart from others, but it also helped them receive 25,000 new fans on their Facebook page.

You too can benefit from the use of QR codes in your social media marketing campaigns. It will stir excitement among your customers, help set you apart from your competitors and ensure that your marketing campaign is not easily forgotten.

Spruce up your social media marketing with smart QR codes

If your social media marketing campaign hasn’t been producing great results so far, now would be the right time for you to introduce QR codes into the mix.

With their large number of benefits, QR codes are a surefire way to help increase your brand awareness and social media engagement. Adding to this, you can even enjoy the fact that you’re a class apart from all others who still haven’t realized the awesomeness of QR codes.


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By Expert commentator

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